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CAIR joins first legal challenge to Patriot Act

CAIR joins first legal challenge to Patriot Act

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today joined five other advocacy and community groups in mounting a constitutional challenge to the section of the USA Patriot Act that vastly expands the FBI’s power to spy on ordinary people living in the United States. The lawsuit, litigated by the ACLU, names Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller as the defendants.

At a news conference this morning in Detroit, Mich., representatives of the ACLU and the plaintiffs outlined why they believe Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act is unconstitutional.

SEE: http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=13249&c=206

  • Under Section 215, the FBI has virtually unlimited power to secretly obtain a variety of information about ordinary Americans, including medical records, reading habits, religious affiliations, and Internet surfing.
  • Section 215 allows the FBI to obtain records and personal belongings without having to show “probable cause” or any reason to believe that there has been any wrongdoing.
  • A gag order in the law prevents those served with Section 215 orders from telling anyone that the FBI demanded information, even if the information poses no risk to national security.
  • There is no limit to the kinds of information the FBI can get under Section 215.
  • Judicial oversight of these new powers is extremely limited. The government must merely assert that such a search meets the statute’s broad criteria.

    “We stand firmly in support of our nation’s security,” said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad. “Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act does not enhance that security, but instead violates the privacy rights of all Americans and creates a legal cover for intrusive investigations of people who are not suspected of planning or carrying out criminal acts. The abuses inherent in this legislation are also unnecessary because the government already had the power to investigate criminal activity.”

    Ahmad noted that many libraries nationwide have reacted to Section 215 by shredding documents and notifying patrons that their records are at risk.

    Along with filing the lawsuit, the ACLU is releasing a new report, “Unpatriotic Acts: The FBI’s Power to Rifle Through Your Records and Personal Belongings Without Telling You,” which describes how Section 215 violates the Constitution.

    SEE: http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=13246&c=206

    Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include CAIR, American-Arab-Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor (MCA), Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), Bridge Refugee and Sponsorship Services, and the Islamic Center of Portland, Masjed As-Saber.

     

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