Copwatch, a Berkeley-based civil liberties organization, held a forum Thursday night to discuss the controversial PATRIOT Act before Congress.
In light of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has sought to pass the Provide Accurate Tools Required to Intercept Terrorist (PATRIOT) Act to combat potential terrorism in America. Copwatch believes the bill is unconstitutional.
“We felt it was necessary to break down the changes that will take place,” said Andrea Prichett, founding member of Copwatch and organizer at the event.
There were close to 40 people in attendance at the forum which was held at Dwinelle Hall on the UC Berkeley campus.
The act would give the government the authority to conduct secret searches and intrude into other private sectors of American lives, Prichett said.
Those who favor the act, however, point to the Sept. 11 attacks and say the precautions would help such acts from recurring.
They also note that two-thirds of the Americans polled after the attacks said they would accept fewer civil liberties for stronger security measures.
Copwatch representatives, however, said they believe otherwise.
“They are not making our lives secure, but are putting are lives in danger,” said Gerald Smith, a member of Copwatch who spoke at the forum.
Jason Cox, a member of the National Lawyers Guild and a speaker at the forum, called the bill provisions “draconian” and “a right-wing prosecutor’s dream list.”
The forum ended with a question and answer session about civil liberates in general in relation to dealing with the local authorities – Copwatch’s specialty.