Resolution in Support of the USA PATRIOT Act Exposed
The Resolution in Support of the USA PATRIOT Act was adopted by ALEC's Criminal Justice Task Force at the Annual Meeting on July 29, 2004 and approved by the full ALEC Board of Directors in August 2004. ALEC has attempted to distance itself from this piece of legislation after the launch of ALECexposed.org in 2011, but it has done nothing to get it repealed in the states where it previously pushed for it to be made into law.
CMD's Bill Summary
This 2004 Resolution parrots the talking points of the Bush Administration in its effort to support the Patriot Act. The claim that Americans' privacy protections were not altered is false on its face: Sections 213 and 215 of the Patriot Act, as well as the expanded National Security Letter powers (untethered from any requirement of individualized suspicion of wrongdoing before a person's financial records and internet transactions could be obtained unilaterally by the FBI), significantly expanded the power of the federal government to pry into Americans' privacy. It expanded the power of the federal government to conduct secret searches of Americans' homes and of the FBI to obtain access to "any tangible thing" about a person without probable cause of wrongdoing. It also allowed the FBI to demand Americans' financial and bank records, internet transactions, phone records and more without judicial approval and without probable cause of wrongdoing. Note that this resolution was passed in 2004, the same year President George W. Bush was running for re-election.
ALEC Resolution Text
WHEREAS, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were committed against the United States and its citizens by foreign terrorists; and
WHEREAS, these cowardly acts rendered it both necessary and appropriate that the United States exercise its rights to self-defense and to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad; and
WHEREAS, terrorism poses a fundamental threat to the ordered liberty that is the essence of our constitutional democracy; and
WHEREAS, as a key part of our nation's response to these acts, Congress spent six weeks negotiating and debating law enforcement tools that both protect civil liberties while also helping detect, disrupt and prevent terrorism; and
WHEREAS, the Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act (PL 107-56) on October 25, 2001 with wide, bipartisan margin (Senate 98-1, and House of Representatives 357-66), and President George W. Bush signed the Act into law the following day; and
WHEREAS, the USA PATRIOT Act has strengthened the nation's criminal laws against terrorism; and
WHEREAS, the USA PATRIOT Act has enhanced the capacity of law enforcement to gather and analyze intelligence on terrorist activity; and
WHEREAS, the USA PATRIOT Act has helped law enforcement defend against the sophisticated tactics used by modern terrorists by updating the law to reflect new technologies and new threats; and
WHEREAS, the USA PATRIOT Act has accomplished these goals without altering the tangible legal protections that exist to preserve the privacy of law-abiding citizens; and
WHEREAS, the Congress, in performing its constitutional role of oversight, found no instance of any abuses of the USA PATRIOT Act and in fact has praised the Justice Department for its efforts to fight terrorism and defend the lives and liberties of the American people; and
WHEREAS, the security provided by the USA PATRIOT Act has been a necessary and Constitutionally-appropriate means to the greater end of liberty;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that (insert state) supports the President of the United States and Congress in their work to defend the homeland against further terrorist attacks; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that (insert state) earnestly and resolutely supports the USA PATRIOT Act as necessary and vital to the preservation of American civil liberties in a way that is respectful of the legal and constitutional safeguards of those liberties; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that copies of this Resolution be forwarded to the President of the United States, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Governor of the State of (state name).
Adopted by ALEC's Criminal Justice Task Force at the Annual Meeting July 29, 2004.
Approved by full ALEC Board of Directors August, 2004.