From the moment the Patriot Act was passed into law in October 2001, a host of leftwing activists (and the organizations they represented) launched a relentless campaign of attacks smearing the legislation as an invasive assault on the freedoms of all Americans. Among the leaders of this anti-Patriot Act coalition were officials and spokespersons of such groups as the Center for Constitutional Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, the National Lawyers Guild, the Humanitarian Law Project, People For the American Way, the National Coalition to Repeal the Patriot Act, the American Muslim Alliance, the American Muslim Council, the American Muslim Union, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim American Society, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and the Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada.
Typical of the criticisms directed against the Patriot Act were those expressed by Nancy Chang, senior litigation attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights. Chang asserted that the Patriot Act "sacrifices our political freedoms in the name of national security and upsets the democratic values that define our nation by consolidating vast new powers in the executive branch of government"; "portends a wholesale suspension of civil liberties that will reach far beyond those who are involved in terrorist activities"; "places our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and political association in jeopardy by creating a broad new crime of 'domestic terrorism,' and by denying entry to non-citizens on the basis of ideology"; "grants the executive branch unprecedented, and largely unchecked, surveillance powers, including the enhanced ability to track email and Internet usage, conduct sneak-and-peek searches, obtain sensitive personal records, monitor financial transactions, and conduct nationwide roving wiretaps"; "permits law enforcement agencies to circumvent the Fourth Amendment's requirement of probable cause when conducting wiretaps and searches that have, as 'a significant purpose,' the gathering of foreign intelligence"; and "allows for the sharing of information between criminal and intelligence operations and thereby opens the door to a resurgence of domestic spying by the Central Intelligence."
In a similar vein, Ralph Neas, president of People For the American Way, stated that "the USA Patriot Act and other actions taken by the [Bush] administration undermine our civil liberties and the constitutional system of checks and balances." "Provisions in the USA Patriot Act," wrote Neas on another occasion, "have left individuals open to secret seizure of private data and individual records even when there is no evidence of a relationship with a suspected terrorist or criminal activity. The increasing practice of ethnic and racial profiling has created a culture of fear and suspicion within many immigrant communities, especially Muslim communities. This suspicion and fear discourages cooperation with antiterrorism efforts, and diverts resources from more targeted investigations that could lead to dangerous terrorist cells as opposed to innocent immigrants."
The RESOURCES column located on the right side of this page contains a
link to the section where profiles of anti-Patriot Act individuals can be found.
It also contains
links to articles, essays, books, and videos that explore such topics as:
- who are the leading opponents of the Patriot Act and its provisions
- the city councils and local governments that have passed formal resolutions opposing the USA Patriot Act