New legislation takes
away our freedoms
With great haste and secrecy and in the
name of the “war on terrorism”, the federal government
passed legislation with sweeping new powers that undermine the
Bill of Rights without demonstrating that these powers are necessary
to keep us safe. This 342-page law was passed on October 26, 2001
by the US Congress and signed by the President without even being
read and debated by Members of Congress. Many of its provisions
had been declared unconstitutional in the past.
What are the rights that are being threatened?
• First Amendment - Freedom of religion,
speech, assembly, and the press.
• Fourth Amendment - Freedom from unreasonable searches
and seizures without probable cause.
• Fifth Amendment - No person to be deprived of life, liberty
or property without due process of law.
• Sixth Amendment - Right to a speedy public trial by an
impartial jury, right to be informed of the facts of the accusation,
right to confront witnesses and have the assistance of counsel.
• Eighth Amendment - No excessive bail or cruel and unusual
punishment shall be imposed.
• Fourteenth Amendment - All persons (citizens and non-citizens)
within the US are entitled to due process and the equal protection
of the laws.
The USA PATRIOT Act
• Creates a new crime of “domestic
terrorism” that labels lawful advocacy groups as “terrorist”
bodies and subjects them to surveillance, wiretapping, harassment,
and criminal action for legal political advocacy.
• Allows FBI spying on religious and political organizations
and individuals without having evidence of wrongdoing.
• Expands the ability of law enforcement to conduct secret
searches, gives them wide powers of phone and internet surveillance,
and access to highly personal medical,
financial, mental health, and student records with minimal judicial
• Allows investigation of American citizens for criminal
matters without probable cause if they say it is for
• Permits non-citizens to be jailed based on mere suspicion
and to not be allowed readmission to the US for engaging in free
speech. Suspects may be detained indefinitely without charges
or court review even if they have never been convicted of a crime.
New Federal Executive
• 8,000 Middle Eastern and South Asian
immigrants have been interrogated because of their religion or
ethnic background, not because of actual wrongdoing.
• Thousands of men, mostly of Arab and South Asian origin,
have been held in secretive federal custody for weeks and months,
sometimes without any charges filed against them. The government
has refused to publish their names and whereabouts, even when
ordered to do so by the courts.
• The press and the public have been barred from immigration
court hearings of those detained after September 11th and the
courts are ordered to keep secret that the hearings are taking
• The government is allowed to monitor communications between
federal detainees and their lawyers, destroying the rights of
• President Bush has ordered military commissions to be
set up to try suspected terrorists who are not citizens, with
the accused being convicted on hearsay and secret evidence by
only two-thirds vote.
• American citizens suspected of terrorism are being held
indefinitely in military custody without being charged and without
access to lawyers.
What can be done?
This lack of due process and accountability
violates the rights extended to all persons, citizens and non-citizens,
by the Bill of Rights. It resurrects the illegal COINTELPRO-type
programs of the ‘50’s, 60’s, and ‘70’s,
where the FBI sought to disrupt and discredit thousands of individuals
and groups engaged in legitimate political activity.
The American Civil Liberties Union. along with Arlington United
for Justice with Peace and thousands of organizations and individuals
concerned with protecting our civil rights and civil liberties,
are campaigning to repeal the Act.
Join us in this effort to regain our hard-won freedoms.
• Join/contribute to the Dutchess
• Support A Resolution Regarding the USA PATRIOT Act and
the Protection of Civil Rights and Liberties, which asks your
town to join towns across the nation in upholding the Bill of
• Contact your elected representatives and the President
to express your opposition to the USA PATRIOT Act. Send letters
to local newspapers. Organize discussions in your schools, organizations
and religious institutions.
Call Congress at 1-800-839-5276
• Support the ACLU Civil Liberties Task Force, the Cato
Institute and others in their campaigns to repeal the USA PATRIOT