Civil Liberties: Repeal telecom immunity and roll back Bush-era abuses

Three key provisions of the USA PATRIOT act (a.k.a., the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism act -- you have to give the Right props for salesmanship) and related legislation, set to expire on December 31, are up for renewal in the House and Senate. The Obama Department of Justice has asked Congress to renew three sections, set to expire, that give the government the authority to access business records (the so-called library-records power);  to deploy roving wiretaps; and to conduct surveillance of “lone wolf” suspects with no known links to foreign governments or terrorist groups.

Sens. Dick Durbin, Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold, along with Sens. Jon Tester, Tom Udall, Jeff Bingaman, Bob Menendez, Jeff Merkley, Daniel Akaka and Ron Wyden, have introduced the JUSTICE Act (for the Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools in Counter-Terrorism Efforts act -- there, now the liberals are getting the hang of it) to use the reauthorization process to reverse laws passed in the aftermath of 9/11 that were designed to undermine civil rights traditionally considered to be protected by the Constitution.

The JUSTICE Act will completely repeal the provision of the FISA Amendments Act that immunized from civil and criminal liability the big telecom companies that illegally assisted in the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping activities. It will restore protections for the privacy of library and bookstore records. And it will add strong checks and balances to PATRIOT ACT provisions governing FISA orders, wiretaps, and national security letters.

Working Assets' CREDOaction is participating with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Campaign for Reader Privacy (which includes the American Library Association, American Booksellers Association, Association of American Publishers, and PEN American Center) in an effort to undo the worst of the damage of the PATRIOT fiasco. You can help by signing CREDOaction's petition to restore civil liberties stolen by the Bush administration in the wake of September 11:

"It's time to repeal telecom immunity for illegal spying," the petition reads, "restore privacy protection to library and bookstore records, and roll back the worst abuses of the PATRIOT ACT. I urge you to co-sponsor and vote for the JUSTICE Act, a bill introduced by Sens. Russ Feingold and Dick Durbin which reinstates much-needed safeguards to our constitutional rights."

Take action: CREDOaction petition
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Campaign for Reader Privacy
American Library Association
American Booksellers Association
Association of American Publishers
PEN American Center

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