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Removing sunset provisions in the PATRIOT Act

Senator Jon Kyl has introduced S.2476, a bill "To amend the USA PATRIOT Act to repeal the sunsets." The Electronic Frontier Foundation is asking people to urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose this bill. I agree.

Dear Senate Judiciary Committee,

I am a concerned citizen and I write today to urge you to oppose S.2476. The sunset provision in the USA PATRIOT Act is a necessary safeguard to my privacy and civil liberties, and its repeal must be clearly justified. Rather than endorse S.2476, I ask that you support S.1709, the Security and Freedom Ensured Act of 2003 (SAFE Act), which would curb PATRIOT's worst excesses while still providing the tools necessary to counter terrorism.

When PATRIOT was hastily passed after the tragic events of 9/11, the public was assured that its most controversial "emergency" provisions would not be renewed unless or until they were shown to be necessary and effective in fighting terrorism, as well as sufficiently protective of our civil rights. Yet S. 2476 prematurely proposes to make these PATRIOT sections permanent — blindly sacrificing our most basic rights as U.S. citizens without proof that it is making us any safer.

Any expansion of PATRIOT should be preceded by a careful review of its uses to date. Unfortunately, the Department of Justice (DoJ) has so far been unresponsive to Congress's requests for information about how PATRIOT is being used. If Congress passes S. 2476, the DoJ will be even less likely to cooperate, removing the last vestiges of accountability.

Instead of supporting a bill to bypass public scrutiny, Congress should enable an open, frank discussion of the effects PATRIOT is having on the civil liberties of Americans like me. Please reject S. 2476 and hold a hearing on the SAFE Act, a bill that recognizes Congress's original goal of preserving our rights while giving the government the necessary tools to fight terrorism.

Thank you for your time.


Hugh D. Hyatt

I hope you agree and will take this action.

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