New Legislation Will Counter Civil Liberties Dangers of Patriot Act

“Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act” Offers First Broad Response to Anti-Terror Law’s Assault on Freedoms

Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) yesterday introduced the Protecting the Rights of Individuals (PRI) Act, a bill that would serve as the first broad-based legislative response to the USA Patriot Act passed by Congress in the weeks after September 11, 2001. The bill, which is endorsed by People For the American Way and enjoys support from other groups across the ideological spectrum, could curtail some of the most draconian aspects of the Justice Department’s anti-terrorism work. Few of these efforts have been demonstrated as effective in the fight against terrorism, serving mostly to endanger the privacy and chill the free speech rights of ordinary, innocent Americans.

“With this law, Congress has a chance to stand up for Americans’ rights. When John Ashcroft rammed the USA Patriot Act through Congress nearly two years ago, it seemed that our lawmakers had abandoned their responsibility to protect the rights and freedoms — as well as the security — of all Americans,” said PFAW President Ralph G. Neas. “Through the Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act, lawmakers have an opportunity to demonstrate that they will defend the rights of innocent people from unnecessary and unwarranted invasions of privacy and loss of basic constitutional rights.”

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