CAIR Applauds Senate
Defeat of Patriot Act Extension
Washington, DC: A prominent
national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group has applauded
the US Senate's vote to reject reauthorizing several provisions
of the USA Patriot Act because of civil liberties concerns.
By a vote of 52 to 47, Senate supporters of the act were unable
to obtain the 60 votes necessary to overcome a threatened
filibuster. Several controversial provisions of the Patriot
Act are due to expire at the end of this month. SEE: "Senate
Blocks Extension of Patriot Act"
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a
"We applaud the Senate's decision to reject reauthorization
of the Patriot Act unless it has stronger protections for
the civil liberties of all Americans. Everyone wants to increase
national security, but that goal need not be achieved by sacrificing
The Washington-based group noted that media reports indicate
that President Bush secretly authorized the National Security
Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on Americans without first obtaining
court-approved warrants. SEE: "Bush Lets U.S. Spy on
Callers Without Courts"
CAIR said the two Patriot Act provisions of greatest concern
to civil libertarians are Sections 215 and 505.
Section 215 allows law enforcement to acquire a search warrant
for "any tangible thing." It also forbids the warrant's
recipient from telling anyone about the warrant. CAIR and
other civil liberties groups support a Senate provision that
would have required that the government show that a person
whose records are sought has some connection to a terror suspect.
Currently, law enforcement officials must merely say the records
are needed for an ongoing investigation.
Under Section 505, National Security Letters (NSL) can be
authorized by FBI field inspectors. NSLs allow access to such
records as financial, business dealings, telephone calls,
e-mails, web sites visited, and Internet searches. They do
not require a judge's approval and are typically presented
to employers or Internet service providers who are then prohibited
from informing anyone of the request, even their own lawyers.
The Washington Post recently reported that a stunning 30,000
such letters are being issued annually.
SEE: CAIR Patriot Act Blog, http://cairpatriotact.blogspot.com/
Earlier last week, CAIR issued an "action alert"
calling on Muslims and other people of conscience to oppose
reauthorization of the Patriot Act and to support Sen. McCain's
anti-torture amendment, which was accepted by President Bush.
"We would like to thank all those who contacted their
elected representatives to express their opinions on these
important issues," said CAIR Government Affairs Director
Corey Saylor. "The results demonstrate clearly that your
voice is being heard." Saylor also thanked the diverse
coalition of groups that worked to strengthen civil liberties
protections in the Patriot Act.
SEE: "Action: Call Congress on Torture, Patriot Act,
CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has
31 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission
is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue,
protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build
coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.