Detroit, Des Moines Area Activists Express Concerns About the USA PATRIOT Act


For Immediate Release: Contacts: Frank DiFulvio

August 21, 2003 Patrice McDermott 202-628-8410

Detroit, Des Moines area activists, ALA express concerns about USA PATRIOT Act

(Detroit) – After playing to mostly negative reviews in Philadelphia and Cleveland yesterday, Attorney General John Ashcroft, in his role as the author of an interpretation of the USA PATRIOT Act that reads like a work of fiction, takes his taxpayer-funded USA PATRIOT Act road show to Detroit this morning. He will be met there by a diverse group of concerned citizens voicing their genuine concerns about the USA PATRIOT Act’s assult on our most basic Constitutional rights. Ashcroft will then head to Des Moines, Iowa, to face an equally skeptical crowd of area activists and citizens who have been excluded from attending his performance at the Holiday Inn Airport Main Ballroom. Tickets are available only to the privileged, well-connected, or those who fully agree with Ashcroft’s policy positions within the law enforcement community.

The American Library Association (ALA), People for the American Way and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) worked closely with area activists and citizens in both Cleveland and Philadelphia yesterday, where an estimated crowd of over 100 people, on very short notice, peacefully gathered and protested the Ashcroft’s closed door and secretive speech defending the USA PATRIOT Act.

The ALA is particularly concerned about Sections 215 and 505 of the USA PATRIOT Act, which is why the organization 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 seeks to restore civil liberty protections, including provisions of particular interest to the library community, which were dramatically weakened under the USA PATRIOT Act.

"What Attorney General Ashcroft's tour has clearly shown is that there is a growing swell of opposition to the USA Patriot Act, including sections 215 and 505," said ALA President Carla Hayden, Ph.D. "Many Americans are not willing to concede their most basic civil rights and liberties to those in positions of power who simply ask us to trust them."