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Controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act were the topic of hot debate last week, with President Bush calling for their renewal in his weekly radio address and in stump speeches in Pennsylvania and New York. Amidst growing concerns over the sweeping surveillance and detention provisions in the act, El Paso yesterday became the 299th city in the country to adopt a resolution opposing it. Newspaper editorial boards across America are voicing their concern about the act and worrying about the consequences of stripping away American’s basic civil liberties.

Jackson, Miss. – The Clarion-Ledger
April 21, 2004

"Ashcroft and Bush are basically saying ‘trust us’ when it comes to spying on Americans, collecting information and deciding who will be targeted. But, since when was it the intention of the Founders, or even wise, to trust government?

The ‘Patriot’ Act is downright un-American."

Detroit, Mich. – The Detroit News
April 21, 2004

"There are some good things in the controversial Patriot Act, things that do make the country less vulnerable to terrorist attacks. But other elements of the act trample on civil liberties and lack adequate oversight, and should be reconsidered at a much more deliberate pace. Fixes should be made to better balance the needs of the government to root out terrorists against the desire to protect the constitutional rights of individuals."

Honolulu, Hawaii – Honolulu Star-Bulletin
April 15, 2004

"[S]hortcomings in the FBI’s effort to protect the country from terrorist attacks had nothing to do with the lack of government authority that the Patriot Act was intended to correct. The Patriot Act was enacted in haste brought about by the Sept. 11 attacks. It should be scrutinized thoroughly before any of its provisions are extended beyond next year."

Saint Louis, Mo. – Saint-Louis Post Dispatch
April 21, 2004

"The authors of the Constitution and our other founding fathers agonized over the Bill of Rights … They were designed simply to ensure Congress could not easily pass laws to take them away. Our precious liberties are the envy of the world. Should they be so freely given away, so cheerfully surrendered? … The terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon hated America and all it stands for. It was a horrible and horrifying event. Wouldn’t it be tragic if the freedom they so hated was destroyed because of their evil actions?"

Missoula, Mont. – The Missoulian
April 21, 2004

"On the campaign trail this week, President Bush reiterated his insistence that the Patriot Act is essential to America’s security. The only evidence of this assertion is the so-called Lackawanna Six, the half-dozen Yemeni-Americans from upstate New York who pleaded guilty to charges stemming from their attending an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan. We don’t have much sympathy for those men, who contend they meant no harm to America. But not even the government suggests they were involved in any kind of plot to attack America."

Albany, N.Y. – The Times-Union
April 21, 2004

"[T]here is the matter of growing skepticism about Mr. Ashcroft’s credibility. His eagerness to twist the truth was on ugly display last week as he attempted to discredit a member of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks. One has to wonder if his claims that the Patriot Act must be extended and strengthened might be exaggerated."

Reno, Nev. – Reno Gazette-Journal
April 21, 2004 – Letter to the Editor

"By submitting to the Patriot Act, we are being asked to allow greater scrutiny of our privacy to fight an enemy that the administration itself says cannot win. I feel that even if this increased scrutiny makes us safer (I have my doubts it does), it is not worth it or in line with the principles that founded this country."

Albuquerque, N.M. – Albuquerque Tribune
April 13, 2004

"Shortly after 9-11, I listened to [New Mexico U.S. attorney, David] Iglesias debate about the Patriot Act. When asked about the enforcement of some of its provisions, his reply was to ‘just trust us.’ With all sorts of mandatory minimum sentences being used to bludgeon accused people to relinquish the very thing I thought our brave soldiers around the world are fighting and dying for, I can’t.

To ‘just trust’ federal prosecutors – with a blind eye to the Constitution – frightens me."

 

 

 

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