For Immediate Release: Contacts: Frank DiFulvio

August 21, 2003 Patrice McDermott 202-628-8410

Area Activists, with Support of ALA, Gather Today in Philadelphia to Express

Their Concerns About the USA PATRIOT Act

Attorney General John Ashcroft Visited Philadelphia Today on the First Stop of his Taxpayer-Funded Promotional Tour to Defend the USA PATRIOT Act

(Philadelphia) -- Attorney General John Ashcroft visited Philadelphia this morning to speak to a selected and pre-screened gathering of law enforcement officials as part of his taxpayer-funded promotional tour to defend the USA PATRIOT Act.
Ashcroft’s road show will take him to Cleveland later in the day – and tomorrow to Detroit and Des Moines, Iowa. The American Library Association (ALA), People for the American Way (PFAW) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), worked closely with
area activists in Philadelphia today to peacefully voice their genuine concerns about the chilling effects that the USA PATRIOT Act is having on our nation’s most precious constitutionally protected rights and civil liberties.

The ALA is particularly concerned about Sections 215 and 505 of the USA PATRIOT Act, and that is why
ALA enthusiastically supports legislation such as the “Personal Records Privacy Act,” introduced by Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), and the “Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act,” introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). The Feingold Bill would help to protect the constitutionally protected privacy rights of law-abiding Americans by setting reasonable limits on the federal government’s access to library, bookseller, medical, and other personal information under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The Bill, introduced by senators Murkowski and Wyden, would seek to restore civil liberty protections, including provisions of particular interest to the library community, which were dramatically weakened under the USA PATRIOT Act.

“People of all political, social, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, including librarians, came together in Philadelphia today, and will do so in other cities where Attorney General Ashcroft will be visiting to promote the USA PATRIOT Act, to voice their genuine fears and concerns about the chilling effects on civil liberties of the USA PATRIOT Act, including Sections 215 and 505,” said Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director of the ALA’s Washington Office. “That is why three state legislatures, 44 state library associations, and 150 cities and towns representing nearly 17 million people, including the cities of Philadelphia and Detroit, have passed strong resolutions expressing their concerns with many provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act,” she concluded.