Assembly committee to review anti-terrorism laws

Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Juneau's views on the USA Patriot Act and other federal anti-terrorism legislation will get an airing before a Juneau Assembly committee later this month.

The Assembly on Monday referred a draft resolution objecting to elements of the Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Act and recent executive orders to its Human Resources Committee for more discussion. The resolution was drafted by a group called Juneau Citizens for the Defense of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Many of the group's members filled Assembly chambers Monday night.

Juneau's resolution is based on similar resolutions approved in 23 other communities, said Pam Finley, a member of the group. The proposal affirms the city's opposition to terrorism, but says city employees and resources shouldn't be used to cooperate with federal terrorism investigations that violate civil rights.

The new federal laws give the government broad access to bank, library and medical records, Finley said.

"It doesn't have to be anything that you did wrong," she said. "It may be that your last name is similar to the name of some terrorist alias. It seems very open-ended to me, more so than necessary."

Raymond Gallegos said the proposed resolution backs the U.S. Constitution.

"As a veteran, I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and as a father I have taught my children to expect a few things from this country," he said. "If you're a law-abiding citizen and you do what you're supposed to, you can expect to be free. ... The Patriot Act and some executive orders rescind that right."

Assembly member Marc Wheeler, chairman of the Human Resources Committee, said the panel will take testimony on the resolution at 5 p.m. Feb. 18 at Assembly chambers.

"I think the resolution is pretty detailed, and I'm not sure we need to go into that much detail," he said. "I'd like to have some more discussion on it."

City Attorney John Corso, who reviewed the proposal at the request of Assembly members, suggested the city temper some of the wording and avoid giving orders to federal and state agencies.

Finley said the group isn't wedded to language in the draft resolution, but wants to be a part of committee discussions.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.



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