- October 23 - The publics disenchantment with the Patriot Act reached a new high on October 21 as the local governments of Bisbee, AZ; Robbinsdale, MN; and Urbana, NY, passed resolutions decrying the hastily passed legislation and declaring themselves civil liberties safe zones. The recent additions brought the total of local and state governments opposing the Patriot Act to 200 and the populations of such communities to more than 25.5 million. According to the Northampton, Mass.-based Bill of Rights Defense Committee, which launched the movement in November 2001, resolutions and ordinances have now been passed in 34 states, and hundreds more are in progress.
This movement of cities, towns, and states passing resolutions against the Patriot Act and certain executive orders has helped educate people across the country about threats to their liberties and has encouraged Congress to propose fixes, says BORDC Director Nancy Talanian. The USA PATRIOT Acts name may initially convince people that it is patriotic. (The acronym stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.) Certainly the misleading acronym helped keep most members of Congress from voting against it in October 2001. But once people open the cover and look inside, they recognize that several of the Acts sections threaten liberties without making us safer. Several recently introduced bills such as H.R. 3352 and S. 1709 known as the SAFE Acts, and S. 1552, The Protecting the Rights of Individuals Act, enjoy broad bipartisan support.
To help fix the Patriot Act, starting with its name, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee last month announced a contest to Rename the Patriot Act using the letters of its acronym. Winning entries are:
Useless State-sponsored Action Purporting to Attack Terror While Really Initiating an Oligarchic Takeover, from Monroe Rabin, Amherst, Massachusetts.
Unseemly and Simplistic Attempt to Preclude Americans Treasured Rights by Inapt Obsession with Terrorism, from Randy Herrick-Stare, Washington, D.C.
Unilaterally Subverting America by Punishing Activists and Torturing and Repressing Immigrants by Oppression and Tyranny, from Ellen Kaye, Brattleboro, VT.
Winners will receive prizes of the Bill of Rights Defense Committees buttons and bumper stickers emblazoned with the slogan Dissent Is Patriotic, Bill of Rights get well cards to send to members of Congress, and booklets about the Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act.