WASHINGTON – The Senate Intelligence Committee announced today that it is
rushing forward with a markup of Patriot Act reauthorization legislation Thursday,
but that the session will be behind closed doors.
Some of the most extreme parts of the Patriot Act are set to sunset, or expire,
at the end of this year unless Congress reauthorizes them. When lawmakers passed
the Patriot Act just 45 days after 9/11, they included these sunsets because
they knew that some provisions shouldn’t be made permanent. The committee
will be reviewing legislation involving the sunsets and other key parts of the
Patriot Act that impact civil liberties.
Members of Congress have until the end of the year to review and modify the
Patriot Act, but some lawmakers hope to steamroll the entire process through
Congress in the next few weeks. This closed-door markup is an indication that
some in Congress are trying to rush through legislation, and keep the public
in the dark.
The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director:
“One reason that people across the political spectrum are concerned about
the Patriot Act is that so much of it is shrouded in secrecy. Many provisions
are implemented secretly, and the government has kept secret key information
on how it is being used. Now, lawmakers are trying to keep legislation to reauthorize
the Patriot Act secret as well.
“Nearly 400 communities, included seven states, have passed resolutions
calling on lawmakers to bring the Patriot Act in line with the Constitution.
Instead of addressing these legitimate concerns, and reviewing the act in daylight,
some in Congress would rather hide behind closed doors away from public scrutiny.
The Patriot Act has been the subject of heated debates in recent months—in
Congress, in the media, and in households around the country. There is no good
reason for the mark-up and vote on this public law to be kept secret from the