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July 21, 2003 09:01am
FSC Action Alert - Limiting the Patriot Act
Source: Free Speech Coalition
by: Company Press Release

Dear Member,

Here is the text of the letter from Chris Finan of ABFFE (American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression -- the nonprofit organization that works closely with bookstores around the country -- and the American Booksellers Association -- to support First Amendment issues):

We have just learned that the U.S. House of Representatives will vote next week on an amendment that cuts off Justice Department funding for searches of bookstore and library records under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will offer the measure as an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary Appropriations Bill of 2004. It is co-sponsored by John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and C.L. "Butch" Otter (R-Id).

The House has never voted on a proposal to limit the Patriot Act. The vote is expected to be very close. It is urgent that you contact your Congress member. Because we don't know precisely when the measure will be brought up on the floor, it is also critical to reach your representative as early in the week as possible.

For maximum effectiveness, call your representative's Washington office and tell whoever answers the phone that you are calling to urge their boss to vote "yes" on "The Sanders-Otter-Conyers amendment to the Commerce, Justice and State appropriations bill." (There is no bill number yet.) Then, immediately follow up by faxing a note containing the same message on your letterhead.

If you need contact information for your Congress member, you can use the search aid on the House Web site, House.gov. You can also call ABFFE at (212) 587-4025 between 9 a.m. And 6:30 p.m. (EDT).

Section 215 has created a dangerous chilling effect on First Amendment rights by giving the FBI the power to secretly search the bookstore and library records of anyone it believes may have information relevant to a foreign intelligence investigation.

In March, Sanders introduced the Freedom to Read Protection Act (H.R. 1157) to restore the protections for customer privacy eliminated by the Patriot Act. The bill has gained wide support and is co-sponsored by 129 House members.

However, the House leadership is refusing to hold a hearing on H.R. 1157. The Sanders-Otter-Conyers amendment will give supporters of the bill an opportunity to achieve its purpose through the appropriations process.

Thank you for acting quickly!

The Free Speech Coalition strongly supports this action and asks that all our members contact their congresspersons as soon as possible. Small steps like this will accumulate to stop the Bush Administrations unconstitutional actions and defeat them at the next presidential election. Thanks for your help.

Best regards,

William R. Lyon
Executive Director
Free Speech Coalition

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