On Feb. 3 our legislators in Washington D.C., will be voting on the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, a law with 1,016 sections passed so hurriedly in October 2001 that neither discussion nor amendments were permitted. Some provisions of the Patriot Act have nothing to do with fighting terrorism, but rather invalidate the protection of inviolate rights guaranteed by our Alaska State and United States constitutions. It also creates a new crime, "domestic terrorism," so broadly defined that it could apply to freedom of speech, the right to privacy, and civil disobedience, and could be used against ordinary citizens.
If the Patriot Act is reauthorized in its current form, the civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights will be seriously eroded, violating in particular the First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendments of the United States Constitution.
What lies ahead if such provisions of the USAPA become law again is a citizenry subject to conditions more common in nations under a dictatorship, where people can be "disappeared" for holding a dissenting opinion.
As of Dec. 13, 2005, seven states and 394 cities and counties have passed resolutions rejecting the Patriot Act as it is presently written, and affirming and protecting the peoples' constitutional rights and liberties. Haines, Alaska, passed the 401st resolution by a 6 to 0 vote. Fourteen other Alaska communities, including Juneau, have passed similar resolutions.
The state of Alaska Legislature passed Legislative Resolve No. 27 in 2003, stating in part: "... the Alaska Ssate Legislature implores the United States Congress to correct provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act and other measures that infringe on civil liberties, and opposes any pending and future federal legislation to the extent that it infringes on Americans' civil rights and liberties."
Benjamin Franklin, one of our Founding Fathers, said: "Those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
I urge everyone to contact our congressmen and women in Washington D.C., and request no law be passed that violates the constitution of Alaska or the Constitution of the United States of America.
Paul A.L. Nelson
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