a Jan. 24, 2001, congressional “Forum on National Security and the Constitution”: “We know from history what happens when the FBI is given too long a leash — it targets individuals and groups based on their advocacy and association rather than based on legitimate law-enforcement concerns.”
The ACLU also issued 18 fact sheets, wrote dozens of letters to Congress and the Bush administration, and made hundreds of TV and radio appearances calling on Congress to defend the fundamental rights and freedoms that distinguish us from repressive societies in other parts of the world.
The ACLU persuaded Congress to build some safeguards into the USA PATRIOT Act. The bill as proposed would have given the Attorney General power to label a non-citizen a “terrorist” and detain him or her indefinitely without any meaningful judicial review. The bill as passed by Congress permits the Justice Department to detain such persons without charges for seven days. The ACLU helped to quash provisions that would have exempted Department of Justice attorneys from ethics rules that bind other lawyers. It also influenced Congress to limit the sharing of information obtained through wiretapping, and to bar foreign governments from conducting wiretapping in the United States. FBI WHISTLE-BLOWER: Colleen Rowley blasts FBI officials for failing to act on information from field agents.
The ACLU persuaded Congress to build safeguards into other anti-terrorism legislation.
In a border security bill, ACLU lobbyists persuaded Congress to drop a requirement that identification documents issued to certain U.S. citizens have biometric identifiers. And to minimize the risk of deportation for immigrants reporting crimes to their local police, the ACLU lobbied Congress to restrict the sharing of federal immi- gration information with state and local law-enforcement officers.
In a trade bill, the ACLU persuaded Congress to preserve the privacy of outbound international U.S. mail that weighs less than a pound.
In an information-sharing bill, the ACLU influenced Congress to narrow the types of sensitive personal information that could be shared by the federal government, and the purposes for which it could be shared.
The ACLU alerted the nation to the dangers of citizens spying on each other under the proposed Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS). That pro- posal “languished in relative obscurity,” according to The New York Times, until the ACLU warned in July that it would “turn local cable or gas or electrical technicians into government-sanctioned peeping Toms.” The prospect of “citizens spying on one another” led to a firestorm of criticism from conservatives, such as the House majority leader, Richard K. Armey of Texas, and Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, as well as from liberals like Sens. Edward M. Kennedy of Massa- chusetts and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California.
“We don’t want to see a ‘1984’ Orwellian-