Contact: Frank DiFulvio
ALA Press Officer
For Immediate Release
May 26, 2004
The American Library Association Strongly
Opposes Legislation to Make Permanent those Provisions
of the USA PATRIOT Act Set to Expire in 2005
"Senator Jon Kyl's (R-AR) Bill is Attracting Bi-partisan
Opposition on Capitol Hill and Around the Country"
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - The American Library Association (ALA) strongly opposes legislation (S.2476) introduced in the United States Senate this past Friday by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AR). The bill seeks to make permanent those portions of the USA PATRIOT Act set to expire at the end of 2005. President Bush directly asked the United States Congress to renew these provisions in his State of the Union Address in January.
Several Republican Senators have joined Democrats and their fellow citizens, including Sen. Larry Craig (ID), Arlen Specter (PA), John Sununu (NH), and Mike Crapo (ID) in opposing the legislation. Instead, they are looking to narrow a highly controversial provision of the USA PATRIOT Act, section 215, that permits law enforcement officials to access library, business, and medical records without probable cause. Known as the SAFE Act, it would prevent unwarranted investigative snooping by the FBI, by requiring that the individual target of secret records searches have at least some connection to a foreign government or organization.
"ALA expects our government leaders to continue to secure the constitutional rights and personal freedoms that are the foundation of our Democracy. One of the ways that we can ensure such constitutional protections in the future is for the Senate to oppose this bill which seeks to extend the USA PATRIOT Act provisions set to expire in 2005," insisted Dr. Carla Hayden, President of the American Library Association. "Librarians around the country are concerned that if these sunset provisions of the USA PATRIOT ACT are overturned and made permanent, there will most certainly be a greater interest by the FBI in the reading records and Internet access of library patrons," she concluded.
Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and the general public have clearly conveyed their close affinity with ALA's position. Pro-civil liberties resolutions have been passed in 318 communities, spanning 40 States and representing approximately 51 million people. This includes four statewide resolutions. These community-supported actions provide a clear indication of the genuine and growing discomfort with elements of the USA PATRIOT Act nationwide.