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REPORT, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, “SEEKING TRUTH FROM JUSTICE, PA
TRIOT PROPAGANDA: THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT'S CAMPAIGN TO MISLEAD THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE USA PATRIOT ACT,” JULY 2003
AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION
The following report, titled “Secking Truth From Justice," is the first volume in a series of ACLU special reports that will catalogue and detail the Justice Department's seeming inability to get its facts straight. This report is part of a series of ACLU special publications examining government policies since September 11. Each of the reports The Dangers of Domestic Spying By Federal Law Enforcemeni (January 2002), Insatiable Appetite (April 2002), Civil Liberlies Asier 9/11 (September
LAURA W. MURPHY DIRECTOR, ACLU WASHINGTON LEGISLATIVE OFFICE
Seeking Truth From Justice
The Public About the USA Patriot Act n recent months, citizen concern about the crnment power to rifle through individuals' USA PATRIOT Act has continued to climb finances, mcdical histories, Internet usage,
to new highs. More than 130 communities bookstore purchases, library usage, school across the country - and state legislatures in records, travel pallems or through records of Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont have passed any other activity. resolutions opposing provisions of the PATRIOT Act and other government actions The debale over the PATRIOT Act comes at a that compromise civil liberties. And librarians time when the Justice Department is not only have begun taking steps to warn patrons pushing Congress to remove “sunset" or erpi. about and protect them from the Act's dan- ration provisions that apply to some portions gerously overbroad powers.
of the Act, but is also planning to ask
Congress for passage of new legislazion Unfortunately, the Department of Justice dubbed “PATRIOT II" - that would give tedunder Attorney General John Ashcrott has eral law enforcement authorities even more responded to this movement by trying to mis- expansive powers. In testimony before the lead the American people about the Act's House Judiciary Committee on Juno 5, new powers. Department spokespersons Attorney General Ashcroft testified that the have consistently made statements to the new powers would include expansions of the mcdia and local officials that are cither half- offense of “material support" for tcrrorism, truths or arc plainly and demonstrably false which under overbroad definitions of terrorand which are recognized as false by the ism in the original PATRIOT Act could be Justice Department in its own documents. applied to political protesters, and an expan
sion of presumptive, pre-trial detention cven Primarily at issue is Section 215 of the after the Department's own Inspector General PATRIOT Act, the so-called “business found widespread mistreatmeni of detainees records" or "langible things” provision. wrongly classified as lerror suspects. Section 215 allows the government to obtain
without an ordinary criminal subpoena or It is troubling that in its cagerness to prepare search warrant and without probable cause – a foundation for new surveillance and other an order from a court giving them records on powers, the Justice Department has resorted clients or customers from libraries, book- lo spreading falsehoods and half-truths about stores, doctors, universities, Internet service thc powers it already has. providers and other public entities and private sector businesses. The Act also imposes The following report lays out a series of a gag order prohibiting an organization "falsehoods" and "half-truths" that Justice forced to turn over records from disclosing Department officials have consistently made the search to their clients, customers or any- in the media as well as in letters to lawmak
Seeking Truth From Justice
FALSEHOOD: The PATRIOT Act does not apply to Americans. What the government has been saying:
“This is limited only to foreign intelligcncc," said Mark Corallo, a spokesman with the Department of Justice. “U.S. citizens cannot be investigated under this act.”
- Florida Today
Sept. 23, 2002
“I think, for instance, there is concern that under the PATRIOT Act, federal agents are now ablc rcvicw library records and books checked oul by U.S. cilizens. If you read the Act, that's absolutely not truc..., It can't be for U.S. citizens."
- Testimony of Timothy Burgess, U.S. Attorney for Alaska, before the
Alaska Senate State Affairs Committee on May 13, 2003
TRUTH: Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act can be used against American citizens.
Claims that Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act cannot bc uscd against American citizens are simply wrong. According to the text of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as it was amended by Section 215;
Mark Corallo, Justicc Department spokesman, said Wednesday that critics of the USA Patriot Act were "completely wrong" and denied that the act targeted Americans. ... "I don't know why thcy arc mislcading the public, but they are,” he said of the act's crilics Thursday. “The fact is thc FBI can't get your records." - Bangor (ME) Daily News
April 4, 2003 “And I have prepared ... this handy chart that takes the actual text of section 215 and cxplains the requirement for court authorization, the requirement that it not – it is not directed at US Persons, the requirement that it cannot be directed solcly at First Amendment activities. ..." “The public has I think been misled, and this is the myth versus the reality of scction 215."
- Viel Dinh. Assistant Allorney General, primary author of the PATRIOT Act, speaking at the National Press Club, Washington D.C., April 24, 2003/
(a)(1) The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or a designee of the Director (whose rank shall be no lower than Assistant Special Agent in Charge) may make an application for an order requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, provided that such investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely upon the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
| Video of Dinh's remarks is available online at www.c-span.org. "Viet Dinh & Marc Rotenberg Debate Patriot Act,” April 24, 2003,