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Carbondale rejects Patriot Act

Greg Massé

Carbondale has joined the growing list of American cities and towns that have declared official opposition to the USA PATRIOT Act.

The Carbondale Town Council Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that calls for the repeal of all “unconstitutional provisions” in the controversial act.

“Every person has the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure,” states the resolution, which was drafted by a Carbondale activist group, Wake Up Now. “Every person has a right to equal protection under the law.”

The USA PATRIOT Act – or the Uniting & Strengthening of America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act – was passed in October 2001, in the immediate wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

While some see the act as a necessary tool to protect the United States against terrorists, others think the act goes too far.

The American Civil Liberties Union contends Patriot Act “takes away checks on law enforcement and threatens the very rights and freedoms that we are struggling to protect. For example, without a warrant and without probable cause, the FBI now has the power to access your most private medical records, your library records, and your student records … and can prevent anyone from telling you it was done.”

Wake Up Now member Richard Veit, of Carbondale, calls the USA PATRIOT Act an “assault against the Bill of Rights.”

“They’re always trying to add more and more power to the central government,” he said. “We just wanted to stand up and be counted, that’s all.”

Veit also pointed out that Carbondale is far from the only town to pass a resolution opposing the act; it is merely the latest.

“As of last week, 300 communities in the country have done the same thing,” he said. “So it’s not as if we’re lone wolves in this.”

Wake Up Now members not only aim to repeal unconstitutional parts of the act, but they encourage lawmakers to vote against the act’s renewal when it expires on Dec. 31, 2005.

“We really need a change in government, so we’re doing what we can,” Veit said.

Now that the Carbondale Town Council approved his group’s resolution, Veit said Wake Up Now might bring it to other local town and city governments. “Most of us are from Carbondale, but we’re thinking about doing it at Glenwood Springs,” he said.

Glenwood Springs Mayor Larry Emery said the Glenwood Springs City Council hasn’t been approached by anyone who wants to see the city pass an anti-Patriot Act resolution.

“The Patriot Act has been pretty much under the radar here locally,” Emery said.

The council has, however, been approached with a similar request. Emery said before he was mayor, the council was asked to back a resolution condemning the war in Iraq. That request was denied.

“At that point in time, it was our decision not to meddle in national politics,” he said.

Once Carbondale’s resolution is signed by Mayor Michael Hassig, it will be sent to President Bush, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, U.S. Sens. Wayne Allard and Ben Nighthorse Campbell, and Congressman Scott McInnis.


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