Repeal the Patriot Act

Background Information

You can read the 2006 version of the Patriot Act here.

In 2003, John W. Whitehead did a point-by-point rebuttal of then-Attorney General Ashcroft's claims about the Patriot Act (PDF).

The American Civil Liberties Union is a valuable resource for information and analysis regarding the Patriot Act and abuses committed under it.

The ACLU provides the following list of Patriot Act powers . . .

  • Section 206, the "roving wiretap" provision that allows the FBI to wiretap a phone without having to provide the target's name or even phone number. And unlike other law enforcement agencies, the FBI doesn't even have to get permission to tap the specific phone before they tap it.
  • Section 6001, a.k.a. the "lone wolf" provision. Section 6001 authorizes the government to get secret surveillance orders against individuals who are not associated with any international terrorist group or foreign nation.
  • Section 215, a.k.a. the "library provision": Section 215 lowers the bar on the standard of proof needed to get a court order to access private info. Before Patriot, "specific and articulable facts" showing that the target of surveillance was the agent of a foreign power was required. After Patriot, Section 215 allows the FBI to only claim that the items or information sought is relevant to an investigation. That means the person being surveilled doesn't necessarily have to be the target of the investigation or even be suspected of involvement in terrorism.

Other dangerous provisions of the Patriot Act are NOT expiring, including the one creating National Security Letters (NSLs). As explained by the ACLU . . .

  • The National Security Letter provision of the Patriot Act radically expanded the FBI's authority to demand personal customer records from Internet Service Providers, financial institutions and credit companies without prior court approval.
  • Through NSLs the FBI can compile vast dossiers about innocent people and obtain sensitive information such as the web sites a person visits, a list of e-mail addresses with which a person has corresponded, or even unmask the identity of a person who has posted anonymous speech on a political website.
  • The provision also allows the FBI to forbid or "gag" anyone who receives an NSL from telling anyone about the record demand.
  • The Justice Department's Inspector General has reported that between 2003 and 2006, the FBI issued nearly 200,000 NSLs. The inspector General has also found serious FBI abuses of the NSL power.

And there's more. The Patriot Act . . .

  • Provides indefinite detention of immigrants
  • Requires banks to report YOUR financial activities to the federal government
  • Authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to regulate your financial transactions with foreign individuals and businesses
  • Gives an overly-broad definition of "material support" for terrorism that can be used to punish peaceful speech and humanitarian aid

Send a letter to Congress

We provide the first few words of the letter so that Congressional offices will see the most important point right at the start, and so that no one can hijack our system for another purpose. Here's the part we provide . . .

I want the Patriot Act repealed.
Your ZIP Code is required so we can direct your letter to your representatives in Congress.