Forum On Patriot Act Slated For Saturday
By Alex Gordon
A local forum giving residents the chance to speak out about the Patriot Act is being planned for Saturday.
The forum is part of a 10-city initiative of the League of Women Voters to encourage dialogue about the balance between civil liberties and Homeland Security. Its title is Local Voices: Citizen Conversations on Civil Liberties and Secure Communities.
"We believe that Local Voices gives people the opportunity to learn about the issues surrounding civil liberties and understand the ways in which citizen voices can be heard," said Kay J. Maxwell, chairwoman of the league’s education fund.
The league, the Miami-Dade County Public Relations Board and the Women’s Fund of the Miami-Dade Women’s Advocacy Project are organizing the meeting at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus.
The Patriot Act, enacted by Congress after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was designed primarily to boost the authority of US law enforcement. But critics think it can infringe on free speech, human rights and the right to privacy.
Other residents participating in the initiative come from Maryland, Iowa, New York, Missouri, Texas, Kentucky, California and Washington and are to reflect a geographically, ethnically and economically varied sampling of the country.
The final report, to be released in the fall, will coincide with debate about the sunset provisions of the Patriot Act.
Ms. Maxwell said she the leagues’ findings will reflect broad opinions. Forums have been well-attended, she said, and the league is satisfied with the information it has gathered to date.
The forum is financed through the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, an independent institution in Chicago.