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.
“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.
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.