Resolutions protest increasing federal power

Posted: Friday, April 04, 2003

Democratic legislators have introduced identical resolutions expressing concern about the federal Patriot Act's effect on civil liberties.

The resolutions, filed by Rep. David Guttenberg of Fairbanks and Senate Minority Leader Johnny Ellis of Anchorage, call on Alaska's congressional delegation to work to change the act.

Passed by Congress last year as an anti-terrorism measure, the Patriot Act dramatically increased federal search and surveillance powers. Opponents argue that stipulations of the act infringe on civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

"The provisions of the (Patriot) Act that expand the authority of the federal government to detain and investigate citizens and noncitizens and to engage in the electronic surveillance of citizens and noncitizens violate civil rights and liberties guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States," read the resolutions. "The State of Alaska affirms its strong opposition to terrorism, but also affirms that the efforts to end terrorism must not be waged at the expense of essential civil rights and liberties."

The measures state it is the policy of Alaska to not conduct surveillance or record, file or share any intelligence information without probable cause of criminal activity, to not use racial profiling, and to not collect information about the views of any groups or associations.

The resolutions urge the delegation to correct provisions of the act that infringe on civil liberties and to oppose the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, a proposal that would give the federal government more powers along the same lines as the Patriot Act.

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