Overture seeks repeal of Patriot Act; PCUSA lobby already opposes it
By John H. Adams, The Layman Online, April 21, 2004
The Presbytery of Northern New York wants the 216th General Assembly to ask President George W. Bush and members of Congress to repeal the Patriot Act – one of the administration’s tools in its war on terrorism.
Meanwhile, the Washington Office, the PCUSA’s lobbying arm, has expressed its opposition to the Patriot Act without bothering to wait for the General Assembly to weigh in on the matter.
The Washington Office claims that, “Many in the faith community believe that new legislation and rules impinge on First Amendment rights, ignore the role of Congress in administrative oversight, and override the criminal justice system.”
It does not identify who the “many” in the faith community are – but the Washington Office frequently uses similar language when speaking of its allies from mainline denominations and liberal lobbyists, including non-Christian groups and organizations that are anti-religion.
The Patriot Act, which became law in October 2001, expanded the government’s surveillance and detention powers but key provisions are due to expire at the end of next year.
Bush has called for a renewal of the legislation, which Congress approved after terrorists murdered thousands of Americans by crashing commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. No subsequent terrorist strike has occurred in the United States since then.
Democrat John Kerry agrees with Bush on almost all provisions of the Patriot Act but wants to “improve” it, campaign spokesman Phil Singer said.
“The president is misleading America into thinking that the current law is doing all it needs to do,” Singer told the Associated Press. “The fact is that it’s failed to address many of the problems that were exposed by 9/11, including the intelligence-sharing problems that continue to plague the FBI, CIA and other security agencies.”
The New York overture expresses “our deepening concern and opposition to emerging policies and practices of our government that infringe upon the rights of immigrants.”
The following is the full text of Overture 04-44:
The Presbytery of Northern New York overtures the 216th General Assembly (2004) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to instruct the Stated Clerk and Moderator to express to the president of the United States and the United States Congress the desire that the Patriot Act be repealed.
The Presbytery of Northern New York remains mindful of anxieties and genuine security needs generated by the events of 9/11/2001, but we express our deepening concern and opposition to emerging policies and practices of our government that infringe upon the rights of immigrants.
Legal aliens disappear from place of residence and work without notice. Any person can, upon mere accusation of certain crimes, be arrested and incarcerated without representation, due process, or notice.
When anyone’s rights are infringed, everyone’s rights are infringed. All these things are being done in the name of security and under the authority of the “Patriot Act.”
Our only true security is to be found in our relationship with God, and through that relationship our relationships with one another.