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Vote in House of Representatives Could Make Permanent Controversial Sections of the Law; Endanger Constitutional Freedoms of Ordinary Americans

Washington, D.C. (July 19, 2005) - While praising the House and Senate Judiciary Committees for resisting pressure by the Administration to expand the Patriot Act, members of Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances (PRCB) today urged Congress to similarly resist the Administration's efforts to rush Patriot Act reauthorization legislation without a full and fair debate of the proposed legislation and possible amendments.

"Although much of the Patriot Act is necessary to protect Americans from terrorism, certain sections of the law extend far beyond this mission and violate ordinary citizens' constitutional rights, especially the right to privacy," said Bob Barr, former congressman and PRCB chair, at a press conference in Washington, D.C. "Rushing reauthorization legislation, with little time for debate and without consideration for important reforms to the law, poses a grave threat to the Fourth Amendment freedoms of ordinary Americans.

"Today's press conference was held in response to this week's expected floor vote on Patriot Act reauthorization legislation in the House of Representatives. The proposed legislation, based on bills passed last week by the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, would renew the Patriot Act nearly in its entirety, even those provisions set to expire at year's end. The bills call only for relatively minor changes to the controversial law without adequate reform of those sections that violate civil liberties.

In letters sent to members of Congress last week, Bob Barr urged lawmakers to bring the Patriot Act in line with the Constitution by restoring checks and balances to government power. Specifically, he encouraged legislators to uphold the sunset provisions, to resist efforts by the Senate Intelligence Committee to expand the law even further, and to modify sections 213 and 215. Section 213 allows federal agents to obtain a court order to conduct secret "sneak and peek" searches of individuals' homes and businesses without notification for months and months; section 215 allows government officials to use a secret court to collect personal data on ordinary Americans, such as medical, library and financial records, without any evidence linking them to terrorism or even a crime.

"If not amended, sections 213 and 215 will continue to severely undermine our Fourth Amendment protection from 'unreasonable searches and seizures' for generations to come," said Barr. "I urge the House of Representatives to strike a balance between protecting Americans from terrorism and preserving their basic freedoms by voting for sensible safeguards to those sections of the law that violate the Constitution."

Other participants in today's event included Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; Lisa Graves, senior legislative counsel on national security issues for the American Civil Liberties Union; Michael Ostrolenk, director of government affairs for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons; and Stephen Lilienthal, director of the Center for Privacy and Technology Policy at the Free Congress Foundation.

Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances is an organization dedicated to protecting Americans' fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment and ensuring that all provisions of the Patriot Act are in line with the Constitution. For more information, visit our Web site at

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