February 16, 2011

Udall Statement on PATRIOT Act Reauthorization

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), issued the following statement regarding his opposition to the reauthorization of controversial provisions of the Patriot Act:

"Nearly a decade has passed since I was one of only sixty-six members to vote against the so-called Patriot Act in the House of Representatives. That October, Congress introduced, passed, and the president had signed the far-reaching piece of legislation with the power to undermine the Constitutional right to privacy of law-abiding citizens. It was an unpopular vote at the time, but when the details of the new law were examined, the breaches on our civil liberties became clearer.

"Last night, I once again opposed the extension of three controversial provisions of the Patriot Act: roving wiretaps, government access to 'any tangible items'such as library and business records, and the surveillance of targets who are not connected to an identified terrorist group. To govern in a post-9/11 world, we have to strike the delicate balance of thwarting the terrorist actions of some, without infringing on the constitutional guarantees of the vast many. We are failing to strike that balance today by forcing short-term reauthorizations of the Patriot Act without scrutinizing the long-term ramifications of the law.

"In 2001, it was hastily passed by a congress left reeling in the wake of a devastating attack. Today, the circumstances have changed and more voices from very different places on the political spectrum agree that the entire law bears scrutiny and debate. We can no longer neglect our duty to review the full scope of a law with such serious constitutional challenges before rushing to reauthorize it, again."