What Editorial Pages Are Saying…

Newsday (New York), August 2, 2006: "Dropped Ball"

“The surveillance program has raised several questions that remain unanswered, and congressional inquiries could at least begin the process of answering them … Heaven knows a congressional inquiry is not always the best way to answer such questions, but it’s an important vehicle in our form of government. If the legislative branch is still a factor in our constitutional scheme, it needs to exercise this oversight power aggressively.”

San Jose Mercury News (California), August 2, 2006: “Stop the Presidential Power Grab”

“Working with the White House, [Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen] Specter has crafted a bill that would rubber-stamp the [warrantless spying] program. Worse, it would essentially embed into federal law the notion that the president has the power under the Constitution to conduct electronic surveillance on anyone he wants, indefinitely and without judicial oversight, making a mockery of the right to privacy…

“…In short, it would be an invitation to wholesale abuses of power and to the return of the politically motivated domestic spying that was commonplace in the 1960s and 1970s.”

The Oregonian (Oregon), July 31, 2006: “Cheney-Specter Bill: A Blank Check for Spying”

“The so-called ‘compromise’ legislation makes a mockery of the nation's historic separation of powers… “…The Cheney-Specter bill, as the proposed new law is known, is being promoted by the White House and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., as a ‘compromise’ on the administration's warrantless surveillance program. … In truth, this legislation looks more like capitulation than compromise.”

Miami Herald (Florida), July 21, 2006: “Secret NSA Program Needs More Oversight”

“… the deal is a legislative fig leaf that allows Congress to abdicate its oversight responsibility and weakens Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable intrusions on civil liberty. … This doesn't sound like reasonable oversight but rather like congressional endorsement of the dubious legal position held by the administration.”

Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania), June 25, 2006: "Domestic Spying Program"

“Congress needs to stand up to President Bush over a domestic spying program that might be trampling the freedoms that the war on terrorism is intended to protect.

“Every time Americans open a newspaper, they read of more troubling expansions of surveillance on Americans, with no meaningful oversight from courts or Congress.”

USA Today June 14, 2006: "Congress Keeps Itself, Public in Dark on Surveillance

“Unfortunately, spying on those who pose a threat is not easily separated from spying on everyone else, and no one is watching the Bush administration with equal attentiveness. Despite lots of rhetoric, Congress has offered little to fulfill its duty to act as a check on the executive branch.”

Washington Post June 12, 2006: "NSA Train Wreck"

“An effort to get NSA surveillance under control is morphing into a license to spy…

“… Legislation that authorizes and limits necessary surveillance is surely the ultimate goal. But many key lawmakers, including Mr. Specter, have not been briefed fully on what the NSA is doing, so it is way too early to be legislating — and all the more dangerous not just to tinker but to fundamentally alter the rules.”

Washington Post June 11, 2006: "Blind Man's Bluff"

“It's time for the Senate to stop rolling over and start focusing on uncovering the extent of the spying and enforcing the law.”

Los Angeles Times (California), June 8, 2006: "Regulate the Spooks"

“The issue now is whether Congress will apply some meaningful safeguards to what has until now been a freelancing exercise by the executive branch.”

Washington Post May 25, 2006: "Make No Law"

“What the [Senate Judiciary] committee should do now is clear: nothing. Any legislation is premature, because most members of the committee still have no firm sense of what the NSA surveillance program consists of.

“We sympathize with members eager to get the program under some legal control. But action, in advance of real understanding of the surveillance, risks authorizing too much or failing to address the issues that led the administration to act outside of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which regulates domestic electronic surveillance.”

Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania), May 19, 2006: "Checks and Balances: Congress Must Do Its Job

“Congress is supposed to act as a check and balance on the executive branch. Recently, lawmakers have seemed more interested in obtaining checks from lobbyist Jack Abramoff to boost their account balances.”

Chicago Tribune (Illinois), May 12, 2006: "The NSA Has Your Number"

“[NSA surveillance of communications between the U.S. and overseas], this page has argued, could be justified and extended if it included some modest judicial oversight. But this vast mining of domestic phone records ... this is something else.”

The New York Times April 11, 2006: "Adventures in Testifying"

“Congress has yet to make any serious effort to get to the truth about domestic spying. But when loyal Republicans like Representative James Sensenbrenner Jr., chairman of the judiciary panel, get indignant about Mr. Gonzales's stonewalling and misdirection, perhaps there is still cause for hope.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution (Georgia), March 29, 2006: “Executive power scourge; Bush consistently ignores constitutional balance, yet Congress sits idly by, rendering itself irrelevant”

“If allowed to stand unchallenged, [the president’s claim to inherent constitutional authority] would permanently alter the balance of power among the executive, the judiciary and the legislature on questions of national security. More important, it would place unchecked power in the hands of a single person, a step without precedent in American history or political theory.”

The Beacon Journal (Akron, OH), February 22, 2006

“Fast-forward to April 2004, when, during a campaign speech in Buffalo, NY, while discussing the USA Patriot Act, President Bush stated in part: ‘Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about a wiretap … a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed…’ It has now come to light this administration has authorized wiretaps without court orders in the course of ‘chasing down terrorists.’ What was it again that Bush said in Buffalo about wiretaps and court orders?”

Washington Post February 7, 2006

“…If those words meant that Mr. Bush is opening the door to a compromise with Congress that would bring NSA spying under FISA or some other legal authority providing for judicial review and congressional monitoring, then that is to be welcomed.”

Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee), January 10, 2006

“Mr. Bush should take his critics to heart and rein in his abusive practices before stiffer sanctions are needed. He has already contradicted the logic of his argument regarding authority to evade FISA – and lied to Americans in the process – by his own statements in support of an extension of the Patriot Act.

“Mr. Bush has … gratuitously implied that he was faithfully respecting Americans' legal rights, while he was secretly allowing electronic spying on thousands of Americans, including even environmental groups. He owes the nation an explanation, a correction, and an administration that respects the law.”

Dallas Morning News (Texas) January 8, 2005

“The Patriot Act is an essential tool in this nation's defense strategy. …But House leadership and the president are pushing a version of the legislation that fails to strike a proper balance between protecting America and infringing on civil liberties. These significant shortcomings must – and can – be fixed.

“A periodic discussion about the scope and effectiveness of emergency anti-terror powers is a crucial part of maintaining checks on the power of the executive branch. … The recent controversy over domestic spying illustrates why these checks and balances are mandatory. … Common-sense revisions…to provide clear and fair due process would shore up the concerns of all but the most ideologically driven civil libertarians.”

The Republican (Massachusetts) January 5, 2005

“[The president] has launched a campaign-style blitz against those who would dare to suggest that the Patriot Act is somehow less than perfect. … No one in Congress wants to toss the Patriot Act into the trash. There are some, however, who want to refine and revise elements of the laws. That in no way makes them unpatriotic, in no way makes them less supportive of efforts to uncover terrorist plots while they are still being planned. … Those who believe that elements of the Patriot Act go too far should be able to make their case without being branded as insufficiently anti-terrorist. … If the president wants to call them names, he can call them true patriots, defending the Constitution. And then they can all get to work doing their jobs.”

Baltimore Sun (Maryland) January 3, 2006

“Four Republican senators joined Democrats last month in demanding more Patriot Act safeguards against government snooping into business, bank and medical records, as well as secret searches and tapped phones. They are responding to constituents alarmed by a government that just last week was caught sneaking software ‘cookies’ into private computers to track Internet activity.

“A consensus may be finally emerging that nothing justifies such means – a welcome development that should help restore some balance. No administration, of either party, should be allowed such power.”

Waco Tribune (Texas) January 3, 2006

“Congress can do better. It needs to pass a reauthorization of the Patriot Act similar to the one unanimously approved by the Senate last year.”

Palm Beach Post (Florida) December 31, 2005

“The administration's excesses – the president's secret authorization of surveillance on Americans without a court order being the latest – have justified concerns regarding unconstitutional abuses [under the Patriot Act].

“Mr. Bush's unapologetic stance on domestic spying underscores why Congress was correct to block the administration's make-it-permanent demand and take time to get the Patriot Act renewal right.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania) December 30, 2005

“Promoting security is not incompatible with preserving freedom, provided adequate safeguards and oversights are clearly included in any expanded authority of the government to conduct search-and-seizure operations on private citizens. But our civil liberties are in danger of being seriously compromised by a government with too much power to pry into the lives of Americans. We've already seen evidence of that with the Bush administration's domestic spying program.

“Enacting serious evasions of the Constitution won't make the country more secure – only less free. Keep the Patriot Act, but mend it.”

Lima News (Ohio) December 29, 2005

“The refusal to rubber-stamp the controversial Patriot Act was a victory for the American people. It suggests that, finally, four-plus years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Americans have impressed on their legislators the idea that they are not willing to accept any and all expansions of government power that some official can dream up in the name of a safety that never can be 100 percent guaranteed. … The idea that failing to renew the entire Patriot Act in all its confusing glory will set the stage for a terrorist attack is a scare tactic, plain and simple.

“The stage has been set for a sober discussion, informed by experience and the passage of time, of the perennial problem of balancing liberty against safety. The fact that it will come at a time when the Senate is slated to hold hearings on the president's authorization for the National Security Agency, which had been previously confined to overseas surveillance, to conduct surveillance within this country without judicial oversight, should widen the discussion in a healthy way.”

Times Union (New York) December 28, 2005

“These senators [who supported filibustering the Patriot Act conference report] aren't soft on terrorism. They want the White House to have the powers it needs to combat al-Qaida and other extremists who seek to destroy the American way of life. But they also want to protect a vital part of that way of life – specifically, the cherished individual liberties guaranteed under the Constitution.

“Some of the provisions in the Patriot Act would sacrifice basic freedoms in the name of national security. … It's time Republicans in the House and Senate joined Democrats in driving home that message to Rep. Sensenbrenner.”

Omaha World Herald (Nebraska) December 27, 2005

“Before the next Patriot Act deadline on Feb. 3, Americans should remind their president and Congress of a principle once self-evident: When it comes to preserving freedom and liberty, the national future trumps the political present.”

Washington Examiner (District of Columbia) December 27, 2005

“Passed in the tumultuous aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the USA Patriot Act greatly expanded the government's ability to find and prosecute suspected terrorists. … The administration defends warrantless wiretaps by claiming that national security outweighs privacy concerns, but doesn't say why agents can't just go and get a warrant from the secret court that was created expressly for that purpose.

“When a critical balance between safety and security must be found, it's often hard to draw the line. But it's certainly not where the threat to liberty from your own government looms far greater than the original risk.”

Patriot News (Pennsylvania) December 26, 2005

“Essentially, the Patriot Act diminishes the role of the courts in protecting individual privacy rights. The White House and its congressional supporters have been pushing to renew the act with some even stronger provisions than the original. What's needed are more protections for Americans, not fewer.

“With the recent disclosure of White House-approved warrantless wiretaps of U.S. citizens within the United States, we think more debate and more consideration of civil liberties, rather than less, is appropriate.”

Star Tribune (Minnesota) December 26, 2005

“The president couldn't be surer that [the Patriot Act] works. … [But] he’s not cited a single instance in which the Patriot Act has proved pivotal in averting terrorism. Yet somehow, even in the absence of proof, the assumption prevails that the Patriot Act is all that stands between American tranquility and terror.

“It's a dangerous assumption to make – especially when American liberty is at stake. That's the point the president seems to miss – and that the skeptical seek to emphasize. Many of the Patriot Act's provisions, they grant, raise no concerns at all. Their misgivings focus on a few provisions that have greatly broadened the government's power to invade personal privacy.”

The Providence Journal (Rhode Island) December 25, 2005

“If anything is worth more deliberation – and deliberation on extending the Patriot Act has gone on for months – our civil liberties are. …As the debate continues, we urge Congress to make sure that government retains power to investigate terrorists without tipping off terrorist networks. But there must be reasonable checks on executive spying by the legislative and judicial branches.”

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (Indiana) December 24, 2005

“Congress passed the original [Patriot] act in haste. This time, it deserves analysis and debate. Congress must remember that protecting Americans’ civil liberties is as important as protecting their physical safety”

Kansas City Star (Kansas/Missouri) December 24, 2005

“National security is essential, but the Patriot Act must ensure protection for privacy and civil liberties.”

Wisconsin State Journal (Wisconsin) December 23, 2005

“The United States has no choice but to fight terrorism and protect civil liberties if it is to continue to stand as the world's beacon of freedom. … Reauthorizing the Patriot Act is a vital element in America's war on terrorism. It should be a top priority for Congress. But the civil liberties of American citizens should also be a top congressional priority.”

Seattle Times (Washington), July 4, 2005

“As Congress continues the debate whether to renew the sunsetting provisions of the USA Patriot Act, it must tease out the disparate issues and influences of our two wars. The act must be scaled back, not expanded as the Bush administration desires…

“The SAFE Act is measured and thoughtful in a way that the original Patriot Act couldn’t be, given the crush of emotion and impulse to do something quickly.”

News-Leader (Virginia), July 4, 2005

“Happy Independence Day, Virginia; although we’re not sure if a few famous Virginians would feel as sanguine about that wish if they were zapped forward in time from the year 1776. …

“Would Thomas Jefferson, who said, ‘where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe,’ appreciate the government’s desire to know what we read in the name of the USA Patriot Act?”

Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Georgia), June 29, 2005

“If you say the Patriot Act does not do away with some of our civil liberties, then you are ignorant of its provisions or are simply lying. In any case, you are clearly not competent to judge anyone’s loyalty.

“The true enemies of freedom are among us.”

Newsday(New York), June 26, 2005

“The challenge for Congress is not simply to decide, thumbs up or thumbs down, whether to keep [Patriot Act] provisions due to sunset on the books. It’s to decide how to tweak and circumscribe the powers they provide in ways that allow law enforcement to do its job without unduly shredding the right to privacy and freedom from government snooping that Americans expect.

“The goal should be to strip away as little freedom as necessary and to ensure that the freedom traded away reaps a real return in increased security.”

Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee), June 21, 2005

“The House’s sensible rejection of the library-bookstore provision in the Patriot Act is more symbolic than effective at this juncture. …Still, legislators should hold their ground and use the sunset provision to eliminate the library-bookstore regulations as well as other offensive and intrusive parts of the Patriot Act.

“… Upholding, not eroding, civil liberties is the way to build a bulwark against those who would undermine our free and democratic society.”

Wisconsin State Journal (Wisconsin), June 21, 2005

“The U.S. House of Representatives dealt a blow to Big Brother last week."

“The House voted 238-187 to protect our library records and bookstore receipts from willy-nilly government perusal. …

“The Patriot Act may still be needed to make sure our nation is adequately protected. But its continuation must be coupled with careful thought and concern for the privacy rights of ordinary Americans."

Philadelphia Daily News (Pennsylvania), June 21, 2005

“The scariest thing I’ve seen lately… was a C-SPAN tape of the House Judiciary Committee chairman closing down a hearing on the Patriot Act on June 10. …

“No wonder some true conservatives have joined with civil libertarians to broadcast this clear and present danger to our freedoms—and why the House of Representatives last week passed an amendment not to enforce the ‘library provision.’”

The Clarion-Ledger (Mississippi), June 20, 2005

“Passed in the weeks after 9-11, the Patriot Act had a number of provisions with an automatic repeal due to their far-reaching infringement of citizens’ rights that Bush now seeks to make permanent. A coalition of liberal and conservative groups has united to oppose extending them.

“Congress must cautiously guard civil liberties, not expand government surveillance and control.

“The Patriot Act needs retooling, not reauthorizing.”

Rockford Register Star (Illinois), June 20, 2005

“Nearly three years later, Congress is admitting to reservations about the law. The U.S. House of Representatives voted 238-187 last week to repeal the library and bookstore provision of the Patriot Act. …

“Lawmakers knew these segments of the law were not popular; they heard from constituents. And lawmakers were smart in 2001 to put a ‘sunset,’ or expiration date, on the provisions. The sunset is Dec. 31, 2005.

“… That the House is having second thoughts is comforting indeed. The Senate should follow suit.”

Palm Beach Post (Florida), June 19, 2005

“A House vote on Wednesday to kill one of the Patriot Act’s silliest provisions…is a sign of progress. Lies, secrecy, and bullying are no way to justify expanded governmental power. …

“There should be no shame or implied criticism in revising the flawed provisions. …But the Bush administration seems incapable of admitting even the slightest mistake, and the arrogance is wearing even thinner. …

“… Congress should not let the FBI bypass judges and issue its own warrants. As the Justice Department noted, the FBI missed five chances to snag two of the 9/11 hijackers. A better FBI will make the nation safer than an open-ended Patriot Act.”

The News & Observer (North Carolina), June 19, 2005

“The House of Representatives last week voted to block federal agencies from prying into the private reading habits of Americans. It was a triumph of American values over police-state paranoia. …

“If President Bush, as he has threatened, exercises veto power because of the stricken provisions, Congress should stand firm. Americans have willingly made great sacrifices in the war against terror. Giving up the right to such fundamental privacy as the choice of reading material is too much to ask of a free people.”

The Dallas Morning News (Texas), June 18, 2005

“We say bravo to the U.S. House, which voted 238-187 to block the portion of the Patriot Act that allows the government to investigate the library and bookstore habits of terror suspects. Congress, which quickly passed the Patriot Act in the days after 9-11, is right to remove this provision that violates the privacy and civil liberties of law-abiding Americans.”

The Augusta Chronicle (Georgia), June 18, 2005

“The poster-child for opposition to the Patriot Act was the part that let the FBI snoop through library and bookstore records to see what suspected terrorists are reading. Well, on a 238-187 vote, the U.S. House killed that provision—and we join in saying, ‘Good riddance.’”

The Denver Post (Colorado), June 18, 2005

“The House of Representatives has voted down a provision in the Patriot Act that curtails the FBI’s powers to secretly monitor and seize library records. …

“… So far, seven states and hundreds of cities and towns have objected to the law, which gives the government far too much power to invade the privacy of ordinary Americans. …

“… This week’s action did nothing to alter the sneak-and-peak provision, which allows the government to spy on people without notifying them or obtaining a court order. Neither did it curtail the FBI’s ability to seize medical records. More bipartisan action is needed to safeguard civil liberties."

The Buffalo News (New York), June 18, 2005

“President Bush is playing a disingenuous game with Americans, falsely insisting that the country will be left vulnerable to terrorist attack unless Congress reauthorizes the Patriot Act as is. It’s not true. …

“…It is dismaying that the president of the United States cannot distinguish between a sensible rebalancing of this intrusive law and a declaration of open season on American skyscrapers. Congress should reauthorize the law, but it should do so with the bipartisan sense.”

The New York Times (New York), June 17, 2005

“In a welcome rebuff to President Bush, the House has finally heeded the public’s growing fears for their liberties under the Patriot Act’s sweeping police powers…

“The action was needed to stop federal agents from conducting secret fishing expeditions. …

“Parts of the Patriot Act are reasonable and necessary, but too much of it provides license for federal agents to spy on innocent people and suppress dissent. … Protecting civil liberties is never a one-shot exercise. It is crucial that the surprise House coalition defend its vote and the public’s interest.”

Detroit Free Press (Michigan), June 17, 2005

“Bush should back off his all-or-nothing stance and allow leeway for legislators to make reasonable alterations to the Patriot Act. That should include keeping Big Brother out of the nation’s reading rooms.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri), June 17, 2005

“The idea of government agents checking what Americans read goes against the grain of our free society, which explains why Democrats and Republicans found themselves on the same side of the issue. …

“Much of the Patriot Act is a logical response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. … Congress needs to study the law more carefully and reassess whether all the trade-offs between personal freedoms and national security are warranted.”

The Tennessean (Tennessee), June 17, 2005

“The nation needs sound, principled laws that address the terror threat without trampling on constitutional rights. Finding that balance requires care and deliberation …

“Lawmakers now have the chance to get the Patriot Act right, and do so in an orderly fashion.”

The Times Union (New York), June 17, 2005

“The American Civil Liberties Union does not exaggerate when it says the House has defended basic freedoms by placing restraints on the USA Patriot Act. ‘It bodes well that the first vote Congress has taken on the Patriot Act this year has been in favor of liberty and freedom,’ the ACLU said in a statement…

“Regrettably, House Republican leaders, bristling at their party colleagues for voting against the White House, are talking openly about removing these checks-and-balances requirements during a conference committee with the Senate, which has yet to vote on the measure. They should think again."

The Post-Standard (New York), June 17, 2005

“President Bush has threatened to veto Wednesday’s House action to block renewal of some intrusive provisions in the Patriot Act. He should recognize that the vote expresses a measure of the outrage many Americans have voiced since the act was passed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. …0

“Some measures to protect Americans from terrorism are legitimate. But over-reaching governmental powers must be challenged because they make us less free, more vulnerable and less American.”

San Francisco Chronicle (California), June 17, 2005

“What you can do: Write members of Congress and urge them to reject any effort to follow the example of Senate Intelligence Committee that would strengthen the Patriot Act and further encroach on the civil liberties of the American people.”

San Jose Mercury News (California), June 17, 2005

“No section of the USA Patriot Act has caused more unease among ordinary Americans than the so-called ‘library provision.’…

“Most Americans are profoundly offended by the notion that the government could snoop on their reading habits—and rightly so. In the land of liberty, the freedom to read anything without fear of the government intrusion ought to be sacrosanct.

“So it was heartening that the House of Representatives voted Thursday to curtail the library provision. …

“… Americans care deeply about their civil liberties. While they want their government to protect them from terrorists, they are increasingly wary about needlessly intrusive measures that threaten their most fundamental rights.”

The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), June 17, 2005

“The Bush administration has declared that each of these federal intrusions [“sunset” provisions of the Patriot Act] and more are necessary to the preservation of this nation.

“We, as well as hundreds of communities, tens of thousands of Americans, and a growing number of members of Congress, believe the administration is wrong. …

“The administration hopes that the Senate will retain its ability to legally snoop wherever it chooses. We urge that body … to emulate the courage blossoming in the House. The intrusive Patriot Act provisions reach too far into innocent people’s lives. They, and not liberty, must be extinguished.”

Dayton Daily News (Ohio), June 16, 2005

“The president is at pains to suggest that 200 convicted terrorists are in jail. It’s not anyplace close to true. …

“This discussion [of the Patriot Act] is not going to get far if the president insists on using misleading numbers to paint his opponents as people who are trying to change a law that is working.”

The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.), June 13, 2005

“The Senate Intelligence committee has included as part of its reauthorization package a broad authority for the FBI to collect information from businesses in intelligence matters using an administrative subpoena the FBI can issue on its own. This should not become law. … Administrative subpoenas are more secretive than grand jury subpoenas, and they involve less scrutiny from prosecutors; they strip away a layer of oversight. The administration may well make a case for Patriot Act renewal, with increased oversight. But this particular power should not be granted.”

The Boston Globe (Massachusetts), June 8, 2005

“Congress…had the good sense to put a time limit on many of the most controversial sections so they expire next Dec. 31. It ought to assess their effectiveness and potential for abuse rather than toughening the act…

“… While some sections of the law are useful, its implications for civil liberties are troubling and its impact on terrorism is unclear. …

“Congress ought to be pruning unnecessary, intrusive sections instead of adding more threats to personal liberty.”

San Jose Mercury News LocationDate

“On the whole, the Patriot Act is a useful law that appropriately strengthens the power of law enforcement to combat terrorism. But it has become a lightning rod because of provisions allowing for far-reaching searches that threaten individual privacy and liberties.

“The unease with the Patriot Act is bipartisan. Fortunately, so are some of the more enlightened efforts to reform it.

“The Security and Freedom Enhancement Act, or SAFE Act… would go a long way toward limiting the Patriot Act’s most damaging provisions.”

The New York Times (California), June 5, 2005

“Far from removing obvious threats to civil liberties in the law, the White House and eager Senate Republicans seem bent on making it worse. …

“One of the most common complaints about the Patriot Act is …it was a wish list of powers law enforcement officials had yearned for over the years that Congress had rightly resisted conferring. Now the Bush administration and its Senate allies have come up with another: a proposal to let FBI agents write their own ‘administrative subpoenas’…

“Freeing agents from getting a judge’s sign-off is an invitation to overreaching and abuse…

“Legitimate complaints that the existing law is overbearing have been heard from hundreds of state and local officials and from civil liberty and libertarian groups. Rather than addressing these flaws, Senate Republicans seem to be planning to compound them.”

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Washington), May 31, 2005

“Because of the controversial nature of the law… every element of its re-enactment should be carefully considered, broadly debated and exposed to extensive public review. …

“… Some in Congress and the White House would not only make permanent the law’s controversial elements but also expand the law to increase the power of the federal government to sift through our files and peer into our lives.

“One of the most troubling of the proposed new powers would be granted to the FBI, in the ability to issue ‘administrative’ subpoenas, which would not require a judge’s approval. Surely legislation in such blatant conflict with the Fourth Amendment should at least be debated in the light of day.”

The State Journal-Register (Illinois), May 31, 2005

“The Patriot Act now draws criticism from across the partisan and ideological spectrum of American politics. Those committed to protecting our constitutional values from both the political right and the political left in our nation want to use this renewal process as an opportunity to ‘fix’ some portions of the Patriot Act. …

“… The provision of the Patriot Act authorizing secret searches contains a broad justification for secret searches…

This overly broad loophole leads to abuse of innocent persons. …

“It is precisely this sort of abuse that led a bipartisan group of legislators in both houses of Congress to introduce the Security and Freedom Ensured (SAFE) bill. …

“Unfortunately, one part to these discussions is unmoved by evidence of abuses – the Bush administration. While most of Congress is talking about limiting power under the Patriot Act, the Bush administration actually wants to expand the reach of the Patriot Act.”

The Clarion-Ledger (Mississippi), May 31, 2005

“The Senate Intelligence Committee apparently is having a hard time living up to its name – the ‘intelligence’ part, anyway – by trying to broaden the so-called Patriot Act. …

“So, as a truly divergent set of groups opposed to the act’s infringement of liberty – including such polar opposites as the American Civil liberties Union and the American conservative Union – are fighting to protect citizens by repealing portions of the act, the Senate Intelligence Committee has been meeting secretly to broaden the act. …

“Citizens need to let Congress know that they don’t approve of giving government more power; less is better.”

Monterey County Herald (California), May 31, 2005

“Under a misguided proposal long on the wish list of federal law enforcement, the FBI would be given virtually unchecked subpoena powers to search records in terror probes. In like manner, the agency would have near-carte blanche to track the mail of Americans – a move that has U.S. Postal Service officials concerned about privacy. …

“Congress should be focused on reining in the more intrusive investigative techniques under the anti-terrorism law…

“Instead, the proposal from Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., would authorize administrative subpoenas by the FBI.”

San Bernardino Sun (California), May 31, 2005

“Extreme situations can require extreme measures. … As lovers of liberty, we have been concerned, though, about the problematic possibilities.

“Last month, three senators… introduced the Security and Freedom Enhanced Act or SAFE.

“It addresses the three most worrisome aspects of the Patriot Act, and would reinstate privacy protections…

“The SAFE Act is a sober compromise between the very real needs to protect our security with the equally real needs to protect our liberty. It deserves passage.”

The Miami Herald (Florida), May 29, 2005

“Incredibly, the FBI not only wants all of the ‘sunset’ features made permanent; it wants them expanded. One proposal would allow the FBI to subpoena records in intelligence investigations without the approval of a judge or grand jury. This do-it-yourself search warrant represents another unchecked power that makes it easier for prosecutors and police to go on fishing expeditions. …

“Instead of seeking unlimited power to protect the lives of Americans, at the expense of the civil liberties we enjoy, the administration should consider how it can protect both.”

The Seattle Times (Washington), May 29, 2005

“But several new investigative powers are overreaching and should be changed to allay valid civil-liberty concerns. …

”SAFE would scale back both the ability of investigators to demand records from third parties such as libraries and banks and to forbid disclosure of the requests. The bill also would narrow the ability of investigators to obtain so-called ‘sneak and peek’ search warrants and delay notifying the suspect for sometimes weeks or months.

“… [It] keeps the positive aspects of the act but ensures modest, but critical, checks to protect civil liberties.”

The Times Union (New York) May 29, 2005

“Now, in a move that many civil libertarians had feared, the Justice Department has told Congress what it wants … an expansion… to allow the FBI power to subpoena business and personal records without first getting approval from a judge.

”Such broad powers are permitted under administrative subpoenas, and are used by other government agencies to investigate drug crimes, child pornography, medical malpractice and other wrongdoing. …

“… a terrorism investigation is open-ended and might well involve unknown numbers of suspects under surveillance, based on evidence that might be little more than a bookstore receipt. These are reasons why the bureau should continue to be required to obtain a judge's approval before seizing records - as a check on the government's powers to investigate people at will.”

The Miami Herald (Florida), May 28, 2005

“The Patriot Act… already gives law enforcement considerable leeway in going after the personal information of anyone within reach. The request for expanded power suggests that judicial review, a crucial safeguard against the abuse of power, is considered a mere inconvenience to be discarded whenever possible. …

“… Instead of seeking unlimited power to protect the lives of Americans, at the expense of the civil liberties we enjoy, the administration should consider how it can protect both.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania), May 26, 2005

“Not only is there a chance the Senate intelligence committee will meet behind closed doors today, it's also likely to consider what the American Civil Liberties Union describes as ‘a dramatic expansion of secret search powers.’"

”Under a misguided proposal long on the wish list of federal law enforcement, the FBI would be given virtually unchecked subpoena powers to search records in terror probes. …

“There's no reason to believe the FBI cannot safeguard the nation against terror attacks and yet still subject its investigative techniques to judicial review. Congress has rejected the idea of administrative subpoenas for the FBI before, and should do so again."

”Lawmakers and the Bush administration can best serve the nation by assuring that antiterrorism laws safeguard both lives and liberty.”

Plain Dealer (Ohio), May 26, 2005

“Secrecy is the enemy of liberty. Why, then, is the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence meeting in secret today to finish the details of its Patriot Act rewrite?

”The committee, at the behest of the White House, not only seeks to make permanent the Patriot Act’s most onerous features, but plans as well to give federal authorities yet more unquestioned access to the private medical, financial and transactional records of Americans without so much as a by-your-leave from any court. …

“… That’s too much power for any law-enforcement agency to wield with no oversight. It invites misuse and abuse and threatens the freedoms the Patriot Act sought to protect.”

The Post-Standard (New York), May 26, 2005

“It's a tricky balancing act under any circumstances, meeting the legitimate need to provide effective national security in the wake of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, while safeguarding the civil liberties that make America free and strong. All the more reason to wrestle with these sometimes contradictory principles out in the open. …

”The Fourth Amendment … protects the people's right ‘against unreasonable search and seizures.’ Those seeking to protect those same people from terrorists have not made a compelling case for breaching that precious right.”

The Providence Journal (Rhode Island), May 25, 2005

“In the age of potential (likely?) nuclear terrorism, the government must be equipped with the power to move quickly against suspected perpetrators. Unchecked power is dangerous, however, and may be easily abused. So the judiciary should continue to provide a check — a very rapid one, in an emergency — on the executive branch's activities.

”We are already straining the Fourth Amendment… Congress should continuously monitor how the Patriot Act is being implemented: whether it is allowing unfounded attacks on citizens' rights."

The San Francisco Chronicle (California), May 24, 2005

“The so-called Patriot Act went too far, but the Bush administration doesn't think it went far enough. …

”If the proposed changes are made, the committee would effectively eliminate what little checks and balances were left once the Patriot Act was put into play. …

“‘You have 400 jurisdictions saying the Patriot Act went too far, too fast,’ said Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, during a phone interview on Monday."

“‘Bipartisan questions and concerns that the law was overreaching should underscore the need for public debate. This is a set of issues that requires a level of public review and scrutiny.’”

Orange County Register (California), May 23, 2005

“Just as momentum seems to be building in Congress for some modest reform of the Patriot Act… comes news that at least one Republican senator is contemplating what might be called a ‘nuclear option’ on this issue as well. …

“… Former Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., who has been part of the left-right coalition to modify the Patriot Act to reduce arbitrary government power, believes it's a response to the increasing number of co-sponsors the coalition is getting for the SAFE Act…

“Sen. Roberts … would do better to drop this ill-advised power grab and focus on his committee's supposed real job: providing better oversight of the intelligence community so it doesn't fail as badly as it has in the recent past.”

St. Petersburg Times (Florida), May 23, 2005

“There already are civil liberties concerns over the lax standards for records access contained in Section 215 of the Patriot Act — one of the provisions set to expire.

“Getting rid of this individualized suspicion requirement enabled the FBI to gain access to huge databases that include personal information on law-abiding Americans, with only the barest of judicial oversight. …The Bush administration and Republican leaders … now want to allow the FBI to obtain these sorts of records with an administrative subpoena, which can be issued internally without a request to a judge. …

“… The FBI may not want to be answerable to a judge when it seeks to peer into our private lives, but the protection of our liberty demands it.”

The Daily News Leader (Virginia), May 22, 2005

“As scary as the innocuously spin-titled USA Patriot Act is, with its broad powers of search, seizure and intrusiveness, there's a proposal under consideration in the U.S. Senate that makes it look positively libertarian in its current form. …

”The broad powers the proposal would allow are both frightening and unconstitutional. …

”You may be sure that Congress and the administration will carefully explain to us how these unconstitutional outrages are necessary to ensure national security, and that they are merely protecting us from terrorism. Frankly, we would prefer some protection from our ‘protectors.’”

Ventura County Star LocationDate

“The usual conservative and libertarian opposition to expansions of government powers seems to be missing, with the exception of former Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, an outspoken critic of the act who earlier this month submitted to the Senate a thoughtful series of recommendations for checks and balances in renewing the Patriot Act. It looks as if he has been ignored.

”Mr. Barr told The Associated Press, ‘While we're fighting to bring provisions back into balance with the Bill of Rights, here we have the intelligence committee moving to give the government more power outside the judicial system to gain access to records of Americans.’”

Pittsburgh Tribune Review (Pennsylvania), May 22, 2005

“If Congress capitulates to the Bush administration and expands the power of the Patriot Act, it also should pass a resolution demanding the repeal of the Fourth Amendment to make it official. …

“The government must not be allowed to increase its already awesome power by redefining ‘probable cause’ into ‘fishing expedition.’

“And it must not be allowed to redefine ‘patriot’ as someone who refuses to protect the rights that the original patriots fought and died for.”

Lansing State Journal (Michigan), May 20, 2005

“The USA Patriot Act is being rewritten to give the FBI the power to subpoena records without approval from a judge or grand jury. …

“This would result in one less check on an administration that has zealously undermined the civil liberties of American citizens in the name of fighting terrorism. …

“… Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia told the AP: ‘While we’re fighting to bring provisions…back into balance with the Bill of Rights, we have the intelligence committee moving to give the government more power outside the judicial system to gain access to records of Americans.’ …

“It’s unclear whether we’re winning the war on terrorism.

“But it seems certain we’re losing the battle to retain our right to privacy.”

The Roanoke Times (Virginia), May 20, 2005

“Congress should devote a more measured, studious approach to providing necessary terrorism-fighting tools without eroding constitutional protections.

“Instead, the Bush administration appears to be pushing for a dramatic expansion of the already expansive powers contained in the Patriot Act, and the Senate Intelligence Committee is meeting behind closed doors to consider changes.

“Such secrecy is an inauspicious beginning to the reauthorization. …

“Achieving security need not involve sacrificing fundamental liberties. Congress should undertake a calm – and open – debate about how best to accomplish that.”

The Deseret News (Utah), May 12, 2005

“There are two areas that cause us concern. One is a section that allows authorities to easily obtain so-called ‘sneak and peek’ warrants. …

“The other is a section that requires libraries and other non-profit organizations to turn over information about their patrons to investigators who request it. …

“No one should underestimate the threat that terrorists pose to the nation. …

“It's hard to effectively keep them at bay without trampling on constitutional rights. And yet the Constitution is the most precious document of this nation's government. It protects and guarantees the very things the terrorists wish to destroy.”

The Palm Beach Post (Florida), May 4, 2005

“The excessive secrecy …only feeds concerns about secret searches of homes, possessions, library records and other forms of spying on Americans who pose no threat.

”It also helps explain why the coalition that wants changes in the law includes right-wing conservatives and left-wing liberals. Headed by former Congressman Bob Barr, the opposition includes Americans for Tax Reform on the right and the American Civil Liberties Union on the left. Recent resolutions in Alaska and Montana to rein in the Patriot Act are ‘what true Republicans in every 'red state' should be doing,’ said Rick Maedje, a GOP member of the Montana House of Representatives.”

The Baltimore Sun (Maryland), April 28, 2005

“It's understandable that the beefy Patriot Act would pass in haste after the country was attacked on 9/11, but right that it be reconsidered at leisure, especially as Americans better understand how provisions are used and how tight the cloak of secrecy really is.”

The Dallas Morning News (Texas), April 17, 2005

“When fear replaces reason, lawmakers sometimes embrace a dishonorable route to an honorable end. Witness the USA Patriot Act, the collection of strong anti-terrorism measures Congress passed as the rubble of Sept. 11 smoldered and America's tears hadn't dried. …

“The nation must conduct the rigorous civil liberties debate that didn't occur in that fearful fall of 2001. Congress and the American people have an opportunity and, indeed, an obligation to correct provisions that assault our most sacred constitutional values.”

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Washington), April 17, 2005

“Conservatives and liberals united recently to introduce a bill repealing some of the worst parts of the USA Patriot Act. Rolling back the excessive powers granted to federal authorities will be a difficult fight. …

“It’s not surprising that Congress and the administration went too far with the Patriot Act. That’s happened in other wartime situations…

“The United States’ struggle with terrorism will be a long one. … Adhering to the civil liberties embodied in the Constitution will strengthen the freedom of Americans and the nation’s ability to hold itself up as a beacon of liberty.”

Argus Leader (South Dakota), April 17, 2005

“That law, the USA Patriot Act, largely was a mistake, addressing phantom problems while stripping Americans of some basic rights and freedoms.

“… The most offensive provisions are due to expire at the end of this year. The Bush administration not only wants all provisions renewed, it wants the Patriot Act expanded. …

“Supporters of the law say…there's been no evidence that civil liberties have been violated. …

“And how would we know if civil liberties have been violated, when so much of this is done in secret? …

“The potential for abuse exists, and our government hasn't given us any reason to be confident our civil liberties will be protected.

“We have an opportunity now to maintain the parts of the USA Patriot Act that really do offer common sense reforms to help law enforcement while ridding ourselves of onerous provisions that attack our basic freedoms.

“It is time for the USA Patriot Act to change.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania), April 14, 2005

“In the spirit of compromise, Attorney General Gonzales should heed the sensible voices of his own party on the Patriot Act and amplify them. He should consider the words of Sen. Larry Craig, a conservative Republican from Idaho and one of the sponsors of the SAFE Act. The senator's statement when the bill was introduced last week said it all: ‘It is possible to fight terrorism without eroding the Constitution and the rights of Americans, and our bill is designed to restore that critical balance in the aggressive enforcement of our laws.’”

Intelligencer Journal (Pennsylvania), April 14, 2005

“Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said some provisions of the act require adjusting. That is encouraging.

“So, too, are the criticisms of the bipartisan alliance. Their willingness to stand up to the federal government sends a message that it is not unpatriotic to criticize the Patriot Act. Those who argue that altering the Patriot Act will weaken it must recognize that if we are to forsake our guarantees of individual liberties for some modicum of safety, then the terrorists already have won.”

USA TodayApril 12, 2005

“The record shows government can't be trusted to protect privacy rights, and the law has been abused.

“After months of denials that turned out to be false, the Justice Department reversed itself and acknowledged April 5 that it had secretly searched the home of an Oregon lawyer who was wrongly accused of being a perpetrator of last year's train bombings in Madrid. He was never told of the search. …

“And while the granting of unprecedented law-enforcement powers was justified as essential to the special needs of the war on terrorism, the act's provisions have been used in criminal investigations as mundane as a Las Vegas bribery probe.

“The need to renew portions of the Patriot Act due to expire at the end of the year gives Congress the opportunity to take a careful look at the entire law — and this time show as much respect for the rights of ordinary citizens as for the demands of law enforcement.”

Toledo Blade (Ohio), April 12, 2005

“If Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee is an accurate gauge, the Bush Administration seems intent on permanently legalizing increased government snooping on the citizenry. …

“Objections to the Patriot Act are based not on irrational fears but on the oft-demonstrated tendency of power to corrupt — that warrantless searches, secret confiscation of medical and other personal records, and similar tactics ultimately will tempt authorities to stray into fishing expeditions with a political or otherwise extralegal motive.

“If the zeal to track down terrorists results in the dilution of constitutional strictures against unreasonable search and seizure, government snooping will be institutionalized, and we will have lost the war we've been fighting, without a shot having been fired.”

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (Indiana), April 12, 2005

“Clear thinking and not fear should drive the discussion on the Patriot Act. It should say something to Congress that the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Conservative Union are on the same side on the topic. It’s time to reclaim liberty.”

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Pennsylvania), April 11, 2005

“We should at all times be wary of government power and any efforts to expand it. This is the position taken by people who esteem liberty.

“Yes, we need a Patriot Act. But Congress must not let ‘patriotism’ blind it to any signs that any administration is abusing the rights of American citizens.”

The New York TimesApril 10, 2005

“When Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is not exactly a renowned civil libertarian, says the Patriot Act may need some adjustments, it clearly has serious problems. The act, which was rushed through Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks, gives government too much power to invade the privacy of ordinary Americans and otherwise trample on their rights. …

“… Parts of the law are reasonable law enforcement measures that have generated little controversy. But other parts unquestionably go too far, and invite the FBI, the CIA and the White House to spy on Americans, and suppress political dissent, in unacceptable ways.”

Contra Costa Times (California), April 8, 2005

“What is needed now is a calm and thorough review of how the Patriot Act has been used – or, as critics assert, misused – in the fight against terrorism. …

“Even in the midst of national hysteria, some in Congress had the good sense to recognize that it was treading on dangerous ground in passing a bill that sharply curtailed basic constitutional protections. …

“The Bush administration, however, wants again to ram the law through Congress in its entirety over objections of a rising chorus of critics. …

“… An odd coalition of liberals and conservatives calling themselves Patriots for Restoring Checks and Balances have mounted a fierce assault against some of the more onerous provisions of the law.”

The Chronicle-Tribune (Indiana), April 8, 2005

“The Bush administration claims it has been careful with the law, and perhaps that is true. But leaving such powerful laws on the books leaves open the invitation for abuse. Plus, keeping the government accountable is difficult because much of the government’s actions under the Patriot Act are classified.

“The act is important, but some of its more onerous provisions should be modified with requirements for specific intent and boundaries that are not invitations for abuse. The sunset provision gives lawmakers the opportunity — actually more of a duty — to re-evaluate the law before extending it.

“The act has the potential to weaken our rights under the First, Second, Fourth and Sixth Amendments. And if the fight against terrorism isn’t a fight to protect our rights, what are we doing?”

The San Francisco Chronicle (California), April 7, 2005

“Three years has been enough time for Congress and the White House to take a time-out and think about what they've done in enacting it [the Patriot Act].

“The Security and Freedom Enhancement Act, reintroduced by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, is a good start.

“It would amend some of the most debated provisions of the law, with the goal of allowing the government the power it needs to fight terrorism, while implementing a system of checks and balances.

“In the coming months, Congress should keep in mind the ostensible target of the Patriot Act: suspected terrorists, not the basic freedoms and rule of law that are supposed to define the American experience.”

Denver Post (Colorado), April 7, 2005

“With opposition to the law mounting, and introduction of a bipartisan reform measure, known as the Security and Freedom Enhancement Act of 2005 — SAFE — we were glad to see that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is now suggesting that President Bush would accept limited changes to the Patriot Act.

“We urge Congress to take a close look at the act in its entirety and to adopt the sensible changes contained in the SAFE measure. …

“The Patriot Act has been a magnet for controversy, and this is an appropriate time to consider changes. America's enemies have not surrendered, and an updated set of Patriot provisions will strengthen the nation's anti-terrorism efforts by prompting law enforcement to put aside indiscriminate dragnet devices to focus on true dangers and real suspects.”

Statesboro Herald (Georgia), April 6, 2005

“When groups as politically polar opposite as the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Conservative Union join together to lobby against an issue, it should make both liberals and conservatives study the particular issue of commonality more closely.

“The basic fear of the Conservative Union, ACLU, many senators of both parties and, we believe, many Americans, is two-fold – erosion of freedoms spelled out in the Constitution and potential for abuse by overzealous law enforcement agencies. …We must preserve checks and balances on enforcement even in the face of terrorism. Otherwise we put our democracy at risk. …We believe tightening some surveillance powers will better protect our rights of privacy as Americans and not adversely affect the war on terror at home.”

The Times Union (Albany, N.Y.), April 2, 2005

“‘Appropriate’ is the key word in the act's official name — the ‘Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act.’ It's imperative that Congress review and revise some portions of this legislation. While protecting the country against the threat of terrorism must remain a national priority, it is grossly inappropriate that it be done at the expense of the very freedoms that terrorists seek to destroy.

“… This is not the time to make an already overly intrusive law even more intrusive. This is the time to remove the act's excessive provisions, or at least revise them, to preserve cherished freedoms.”

The Patriot News (Pennsylvania), March 31, 2005

“Passed after 9-11 to give the government tools to fight terrorism, the well-intentioned legislation simply goes too far and unduly threatens civil liberties. Those with polar positions – outright repeal and leaving it as it is – ought to recognize, as has the newly named Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances, that the act is important, but needs modifications. …

“Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances brings a well-represented, reasoned and articulate approach to the debate – one that other critical issues before this country could also use. Congress and the Bush Administration need to recognize this joint voice and revise the act before extending it.”

The Toledo Blade (Ohio), March 29, 2005

“Politics makes for some strange bedfellows, but odd unions are exactly what a newly formed left-right coalition hopes will work to its advantage in modifying the Patriot Act. …

“… A group of people normally at each other's throats wants Washington to look past customary divides when hearings on renewing the Patriot Act begin later. In other words, they want the ensuing debate to be framed on its merit, not labeled a liberal or conservative cause — because it is neither. …

“The law that was rushed through Congress four years ago needs clarification to establish specific intent and boundaries which, left vague, only invite abuse, as has already been demonstrated.

“May the dialogue begin in earnest.”

Manassas Journal Messenger (Virginia), March 29, 2005

“Now the battle to make changes in the Patriot Act has been joined and the ‘liberals’ have some allies. …

“The push by conservatives to forge changes in the Patriot Act should send the right message to Congress that Bush should not be given a blank check when it comes to constitutional freedoms.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Georgia), March 27, 2005

“Instead of providing a rational defense of the objectionable portions of the Patriot Act, the law's supporters have simply discounted the concerns as unpatriotic. Nothing should be wrapped in the flag to shut off vigorous debate. …

“Many advocates of civil liberties have been uneasy about the Patriot Act ever since it was signed into law. It's time for an open and rational debate that will lead to repeal of the most onerous provisions.”

The Roanoke Times and World News (Virginia), March 27, 2005

“Almost four years into the war on terror, and counting, Americans should curb some of the Patriot Act's most intrusive powers. …

“Written in fear, to forestall future acts of terror on a scale most Americans had never before conceived, the Patriot Act was a conscious surrender of some civil liberties to fight a new kind of threat to the nation's survival. …

“Now, the danger of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil has not passed. But enough time has passed to weigh the new balance that was struck, look at the inevitable unintended consequences, and move carefully toward restoring government to its founding principles. …

“If Americans must forfeit their First, Second, Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights to fight terrorism, what is the fight for? Life without liberty?”

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Nevada), March 27, 2005

“In hopes of inoculating themselves against charges of political extremism, a coalition of strange bedfellows from the political left and the right is forming in Washington in preparation for next month's hearings on the re-authorization of many of the most controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act, set to expire in 2006. …

“Congress – and the courts – should listen up. For as Mr. Franklin so prophetically warned, ‘They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security.’”

The Orlando Sentinel (Florida), March 26, 2005

“When Congress rushed to pass the sweeping anti-terrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act just weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the law's drafters had the good sense to include a December 2005 expiration date for some of its most controversial powers.

“This ‘sunset’ mechanism was intended to spur Congress to take time to re-evaluate the law before extending it.

“And that's just what members owe the American people, with the burden on the Bush administration to demonstrate that the law's powers are necessary and effective and are not being abused. …

“If the Bush administration believes all of the Patriot Act's powers are essential to protecting Americans from terrorists, it will welcome and cooperate in a full examination and robust debate on the merits of the law.”

The Orange County Register (California), March 26, 2005

“The debate in Congress over the USA Patriot Act, portions of which are scheduled to ‘sunset’ at the end of this year, will not take place for months.

“But it's heartening to see that the coalition of liberals and conservatives that has raised concerns about portions of the law is still together and beginning to marshal support not only for sunsetting the portions of the law that are scheduled to expire, but to reconsider other parts of it as well.”

The Santa Fe New Mexican,March 25, 2005

“The Patriot Act’s single saving grace was the 2006 expiration date tacked to its most oppressive aspects. Hearings will begin next month on renewing them or letting them lapse. …

“President Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales want the whole ball of wax left in the law. … Leading the forces for reform is former Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia. …

“… As Barr will be arguing before his fellow Republicans controlling the Capitol, the changes he favors ‘will secure the important powers of the law while placing reasonable limits on their use.’”

The Republican (Springfield, Mass.), March 24, 2005

“The act was pasted with haste, but it can be amended with care.

“No reasonable person has suggested that the entire Patriot Act should be thrown out. Similarly, no reasonable person should be able to maintain that it is perfect as it is.

“Anyone who believes that too much of Washington these days is divided along predictably partisan lines – and who longs for a degree of pragmatism to take hold – need look no further than the aptly names Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances.”

Port Huron Times Herald (Michigan), March 24, 2005

“The extraordinary powers given to government in the war against terrorism raise legitimate concerns about the threat they pose to Americans’ freedom. …

“The war against terrorism also is a defense of liberty. The latter is just as vital. To erode the freedoms that define America is to give comfort to our enemies.”

Victoria Advocate (Texas), March 24, 2005

“The Patriot Act has some useful components that enhance the federal government’s ability to combat terrorism on U.S. soil. But its significant problems have to be fixed before it is reauthorized. If Congress will not do that, repeal or letting it expire is a better option – if a flawed one – than reauthorizing the law in its current form.”

The Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, N.J.), March 24, 2005

“The Patriot Act offers a frightening glimpse of the Big Brother government nobody wants. The coalition [PRCB] will lobby Congress to repeal or let expire an overly broad definition of terrorists that gives investigators too much leeway; the provision that allows the government to conduct secret searches of private property without the knowledge of the owner or resident; and prosecutors' ability to easily obtain records from places such as libraries. …

“… We're glad to see this coalition already prepared to fight this worthy battle.”

The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), March 7, 2005

“This is the year that Congress must re-examine – and, we hope, do away with – some of the most dangerous elements of any legislation it ever has passed. … So it would behoove anyone interested in preserving what remains of First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights to get in the fight right now.

“The threatening language is found in the USA Patriot Act, passed in the near-panic weeks after the 9/11 attacks. Even then, certain of its elements, imbuing the government with extra-constitutional police powers for secret searches and effectively unlimited surveillance, troubled members of Congress enough that they wrote ‘sunset’ provisions into its creation. If those portions are not specifically reauthorized, they will die.

“And die they should. Unchallenged, they lay the basis for a secret police state as complete as ever existed in Berlin, Moscow or Beijing.”

The Times Union (Albany, New York), February 17, 2005

“The fate of civil liberties, even in the post-Sept. 11 eras, can’t be determined by presidential fiat and a cowering Congress.”

The Baltimore Sun, February 10, 2005

“A series of terrorist attacks in 1974 led the British government to launch a crackdown employing police powers that were unseemly by what were then American standards of due process – but that pales next to the system the United States is constructing today. The Patriot Act … make(s) the British tactics look almost quaint by comparison.

“Nonetheless, 11 innocent people spent years in British prisons as a result of that earlier campaign against terror. Yesterday, Prime Minister Tony Blair apologized for the lives ruined, and for the misplaced confidence the British government displayed in its determination that a different sort of conflict called for a different set of rules. Years from now, will an American president by making the same sort of apology?”

Reno Gazette-Journal (Nevada), February 1, 2005

“Members of Nevada’s congressional delegation, it’s been reported, express bipartisan support for reviewing the legislation. They understand clearly the necessity to protect the nation from terrorist activity. They also understand that they must study the act to make informed decisions about the positive and negative effects of all the act’s provisions and about the usefulness of the entire legislation to national security.

“Reviewing the Patriot Act should be nothing to fear. Rather, Americans should be as concerned about the possibility of losing their rights, liberties and expectation of privacy in the effort to ensure their safety.”

Winston-Salem Journal (North Carolina), January 23, 2005

“While Bush enunciates beautiful concepts of liberty, he is also pursuing renewal of the U.S. Patriot Act that threatens the civil liberties of many Americans. … America's 43rd president provided the world with a lyrical song of freedom. ... Now he must demonstrate that America truly is the world's leader on matters of freedom and liberty.”

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