welcomes the Senate's caution
about renewal of the USA Patriot Act
York, December 19, 2005 -- The National Council of Churches today praised
the U.S. Senate for its caution when it declined to end a filibuster blocking the renewal of the USA
"The Patriot Act was hastily enacted after 9/11
in an attempt to protect U.S. citizens from further terrorist violence,"
said Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, associate general secretary of the NCC for
International Affairs and Peace. "It's now time to ask ourselves what
this law has meant with respect to our most basic freedoms."
Last month, the General Assembly of the NCC and
Church World Service passed a resolution calling for "ever-vigilant"
support of civil and religious liberties. The resolution
expresses concern that the Patriot Act "has the potential for vastly
eroding" those liberties.
provisions of the act are in seeming conflict with the Fourth Amendment
prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures," the
resolution states. "These provisions include: delayed-notice
search warrants to secretly investigate potential criminals; national
security letters to secretly gather private and confidential information;
relaxed restrictions on wiretapping; and extensive use of deportation and
denial of immigrant applications based on unknowing associations."
Last week President Bush admitted authorizing
wiretaps on U.S. citizens and said they were necessary to uncover
terrorist plans. Even so, many of the 40 Democrats and four Republicans
who voted against a motion to end the filibuster cited this unusual
one of their concerns.
a series of public statements, Mr. Bush
has defended the Patriot Act as a necessary weapon for the war on terrorism.
war on terror, we cannot afford to be without this law for a single
moment," he said. The Patriot Act's 16 major provisions will expire Dec. 31 unless
Congress extends them.
not calling upon the government to abandon its responsibility to defend
its citizens," said the Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the NCC.
"At the same
time, there is no more eloquent rebuke to our terrorist enemies than to
show we will never back away from the religious and civil liberties they
seem to hate so much."
The full text of the General Assembly’s
on the Threat to Civil and Religious Liberties in Post-9/11 America" can
Contact NCC News:
Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2252,
and Leslie Tune, 202-544-2350.