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Text of conference report:
ACLU Condemns Hidden Provision that Would Impede Freedom of Speech,
Patriot Act Reauthorization Bill Would Empower Secret Service as Censors
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 12, 2005
Contact: Shin Inouye
WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union today denounced a
provision contained within legislation created to reauthorize the
Patriot Act that would make major changes to the criminal statutes
administered by the Secret Service and could seriously damage the free
speech rights of all Americans. The controversial provision has not had
any Congressional review or hearings.
The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the
ACLU Washington Legislative Office:
"If this provision is adopted, our precious First Amendment would be
significantly curtailed. The Secret Service already has broad authority
to stifle dissent at events where high-ranking public officials appear.
This little-noticed provision, contained in legislation meant to
reauthorize the Patriot Act, would give the Secret Service effective
power to enact 'exclusion zones' even without the attendance of the
president or other Secret Service protectee.
"Imagine, in the future, a pro-choice president is set to speak at a
conference, which the Secret Service declares as an 'event of national
significance.' If the bill passes, the Secret Service could shut down
areas throughout the conference and arrest any pro-life protester who
violates the zone for a felony. This could happen even at times when
the president is not speaking.
"Congress has not had ample time to consider this attack on the First
Amendment. While there remains much to do on the Patriot Act powers
themselves, lawmakers must reject this assault on the right to dissent."
To read the ACLU's letter to the Senate on this provision, go to: