To: All NCPCF member organizations, supporters and civil libertarians

Re:  PATRIOT ACT REAUTHORIZATION — Using the Congressional break at the end of

April to Lobby Congressional Delegations back home in their Districts.

Date: April 8, 2011

The infamous PATRIOT Act is again up for reauthorization by Congress: with three provisions set to expire at the end of May, its congressional supporters face a deadline to secure extensions.  While the process in the House may move quickly, the Senate will not likely move until after Congress goes on a break for the last half of April, when members of Congress return to their districts to hear from their constituents.  This is a perfect opportunity to lobby against reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act as it is presently drafted.

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee is mobilizing grassroots activists to support a legislative “fix” to the PATRIOT Act called the “JUSTICE Act,” developed by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) during the last Congress (before a millionaire bought his seat) as well Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who chaired the hearing last week on protecting Muslim Civil Rights. The JUSTICE Act, among other legislative initiatives, overrules the Supreme Court decision in Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder, and provides that nobody can be convicted of “material support for terrorism” until prosecutors prove their intent to promote terrorism.  Overturning the Humanitarian Law Project decision is one of the NCPCF’s fundamental goals.

We encourage you to mobilize NCPCF members and supporters to contact their congressional representatives during the congressional recess in April, and ask them to oppose the PATRIOT reauthorization and support (by co-sponsoring and voting for) the JUSTICE Act.  BORDC will be sharing updates and suggested talking points with any interested participants, who can sign up at

While our supporters are visiting and lobbying their congressional representatives, they should begin developing a relationship and suggest that we will soon present additional proposals to address serious ongoing constitutional problems with regard to our civil freedoms.  For instance, we will request:

· special prosecutors to review cases that (as acknowledged by the Inspector General of the Justice Department) may have been handled illegally.  The City of Albany, NY declared its support for this solution in the resolution it passed in 2010;

· that SAMs be put under Judicial control; and

· that the CMUs be closed.

NCPCF member organization BORDC is standing by to supply materials to understand the JUSTICE Act.  As a coalition, we will need to organize around essential issues like reform to the PATRIOT Act, while also proactively setting the agenda on our other issues.  This is a great place to start.  The NCPCF Steering Committee and Board of Directors urge members to support the BORDC initiative and lobby their congressional representatives immediately as Congress debates the extension of the PATRIOT Act.

Action Plan to NCPCF Members

Meet with your congressional representatives [April 18 to May 1, 2011]

Members of Congress are returning to their districts April 18 to May 1. With the USA PATRIOT Act up for reauthorization again in May, this is the perfect opportunity to ensure that Congress keeps your views in mind as it debates this dangerous–and now vulnerable–law.

  1. Find your members of Congress, including both senators and your representative in the House.
  2. Call the district offices nearest you and ask to schedule a meeting with the member of Congress or a legislative aide who addresses government surveillance issues, congressional oversight, or votes on matters referred to the Judiciary Committee. Introduce yourself as a constituent and offer your name and address.
    • You don’t have to go it alone. Organize yourselves and invite a few like-minded friends and colleagues in your congressional district to join you at the meeting.
    • Prepare. Before the meeting, go over the issues you want to discuss and prepare responses to common questions. Use our PATRIOT Act talking points to help you.

  1. Meet with your elected officials. Arrive on time and dress professionally. At the meeting, always be respectful and polite–even with representatives who oppose your interests. Outline your requests:
    • Vote NO on reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act until it is amended to add strong protections for civil liberties.
    • Support the JUSTICE Act. The JUSTICE Act was first introduced a year ago and would provide civil liberties protections: it contains critically important new checks and balances to prevent abuse of the three expiring PATRIOT provisions, but also proposed many meaningful reforms to other surveillance powers.
    • Rein in the FBI and COINTELPRO 2.0: Congress must conduct more careful oversight and prevent the FBI from investigating innocent Americans without any evidence or even suspicion of a crime; or profiling based on race, ethnicity, religion or political belief.
    • Cut spending: When addressing the bloated federal budget, start with wasteful programs justified in the name of national security that offend both fiscal conservatism and constitutional rights. See also: Specific budget recommendations.

  1. Ask for a response. Be sure you understand where your members of Congress stand on specific issues.

  1. Email and BORDC to let us know how your calls went. Make sure your voice is counted!

  1. Follow up: write a letter in response to your conversation. This will help you build a relationship with your legislators, which will increase your influence on their actions in the future.

Talking Points with your Congressman and Senators

The PATRIOT Act must not be reauthorized unless and until necessary privacy and civil liberties protections are added. Here’s why:

The PATRIOT Act powers scheduled to expire this year don’t actually make us safer.

The government has done a fine job of addressing terrorism without the vast and unchecked powers of the PATRIOT Act. Some provisions (e.g., the “lone wolf” powers set to expire in May) have never even been used in the decade since the PATRIOT Act was first enacted, and others have repeatedly faced criticism from internal government watchdogs about recurring abuses unhinged from national security. Why sacrifice the privacy of law-abiding Americans for powers that aren’t even needed?

Stopping PATRIOT Act abuses is Congress’s constitutional responsibility.

Congress’ job includes a constitutional responsibility to check and balance the Executive Branch. Internal government watchdogs have already documented tens of thousands of instances of abuse under administrations from both parties, which have never been addressed or corrected. Congress should insist on long overdue reforms before writing the intelligence agencies yet another blank check.

If we don’t make these changes now, the PATRIOT Act may be made permanent.

The House leadership favors permanent reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act. If privacy and civil liberties protections aren’t added now, Congress will shackle itself and severely limit its oversight opportunities in the future. Permanent reauthorization would also allow the Executive Branch to continue and expand on previously documented abuses under administrations from both political parties.

Both Democrats and Republicans oppose the PATRIOT Act.

Opposing the PATRIOT Act–by supporting the JUSTICE  Act–is one way for members of Congress to gain support from both sides of the aisle. Americans from all walks of life–and both major political parties–share serious concerns about the PATRIOT Act, but few in either party are passionate supporters of unchecked government authority to abuse the rights of Americans.

Opposing the PATRIOT Act demonstrates that members of Congress are listening to their constituents–instead of the Washington establishment.

If any theme has dominated the last several elections, it is that voters distrust representatives who take their cues from inside the Beltway rather than their constituents. Both parties are now dominated by populists who want their elected officials to place the people’s needs before the government’s. Voting to stop abuses under the PATRIOT Act will send that message loud and clear.

Stopping PATRIOT Act excesses will reduce spending and help balance the federal budget.

By authorizing expensive government investigations without adequate controls, the PATRIOT Act not only violates the Constitution, but also inflates the federal budget. At a time when states are laying off teachers and struggling to stay afloat, we should make sure that intelligence agencies spend their money wisely, instead of inviting them to pursue dragnet investigations at the taxpayers’ expense.