Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fighting Back at Last



WHEREAS, Lane County has a long and distinguished tradition of protecting the civil rights and liberties for all its residents as expressed in the United States and the Oregon Constitution; and

WHEREAS, Lane County has a diverse population, including immigrants, students and working people, whose contributions to the community are vital to its character and function; and

WHEREAS, Lane County reaffirms its support of the U.S. Constitution and the Oregon Constitution; and

WHEREAS, Lane County's Diversity Statement contained in LM 2.390 states the County policy of respecting and valuing differences, such as those based on ethnicity, language, and race, as well as respecting each individual's right to privacy in areas such as religious faith, political beliefs, and association; and

WHEREAS, in our opinion, several new federal laws, regulations and executive orders issued since September 11, 2001, including the adoption of certain provisions of the U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act (Public Law 107-56, hereafter UPA) and the Homeland Security Act (Public Law 107-296) now threaten this local policy, as well as our constitutional rights and liberties, including:

a. Freedom of speech, association, and religion,

b. Right to privacy,

c. Right to counsel and due process in judicial proceedings,

d. Right to equal protection before the law,

e. Protection from unreasonable searches and seizures; and

WHEREAS, federal, state and local governments need to protect the public from terrorist attacks such as those that occurred on September 11, 2001. Governments have an obligation to do so in a rational and deliberative fashion to ensure any new security measures enhance public safety without impairing Constitutional guarantees, or infringing on civil liberties; and

WHEREAS, in our opinion, federal policies adopted since September 11, 2001, including provisions in the UPA and related executive orders, regulations and actions threaten fundamental rights and liberties by:

a. authorizing the indefinite incarceration of non-citizens based on mere suspicion (UPA, sections 411 and 412), and the indefinite incarceration of citizens designated by the President as "enemy combatants" without access to counsel or meaningful recourse to the federal courts (White House Order June 9, 2002; Department of Defense Report October 2, 2002),

b. establishing secret military tribunals for terrorism suspects, without judicial oversight or Constitutional safeguards (Military Order, November 13, 2001),

c. permitting wiretapping of conversations between federal prisoners and their attorneys (28 CFR 501.3),

d. limiting disclosure of public documents and records under the Freedom of Information Act ("Memorandum for Heads of all Federal Departments and Agencies," Attorney General John Ashcroft, October 12, 2001),

e. permitting the use the secret Foreign Intelligence Courts to oversee law enforcement use of electronic surveillance in anti-terrorism investigations and in ordinary criminal investigations (UPA, section 216),

f. expanding the authority of federal agents under the secrecy of Foreign Intelligence Courts to conduct so-called "sneak and peek" or "black bag" searches, in which the subject of the search warrant is unaware that his property has been searched for citizens and non-citizens alike. (UPA, section 213),

g. granting law enforcement and intelligence agencies broad access to personal medical, financial, library and education records with little if any judicial oversight (UPA, sections 215, 218, 358 and 508),

h. chilling constitutionally protected speech through overbroad definitions of "terrorism", which include protests and other political demonstrations (UPA, section 411),

i. driving a wedge between immigrant communities and the police that protect them by encouraging involvement of state and local police in enforcement of federal immigration law (Public Law 107-296, Title VIII, Subtitle I: Homeland Security Information Sharing Act; Department of Justice Legal Opinion April 10, 2002),

j. permitting the FBI to conduct surveillance of religious services, Internet chatrooms, political demonstrations, and other public meetings of any kind without having any evidence that a crime has been or may be committed (UPA, sections 203 and 901 and Attorney General's Investigative Guidelines promulgated in May, 2002),

k. eliminating many safeguards designed to prevent the potential for broad dissemination of unsubstantiated, incorrect or inappropriate information via law enforcement (Public Law 107-296, section 202; Department of Justice Rule amending 28 CFR Part 16 Privacy Act of 1974, March 24, 2003),

l. allowing the Attorney General to override court decisions granting bond to immigrants seeking asylum, by requiring most immigrants to be jailed indefinitely without bond when "national security" risks exist (Interim Decision #3488, from John Ashcroft April 17, 2003),

m. failing to ensure the accuracy of National Crime Information Center (NCIC) records (Department of Justice Order issued March 24, 2003, amending 28 CFR part 16, Privacy Act of 1974),

n. granting the Attorney General broad discretion to determine which political and religious organizations are `terrorist organizations', with no judicial or congressional oversight; (Executive Order 13224); and

WHEREAS, we believe that new legislation has been drafted by the Administration currently entitled the Domestic Security Enhancement Act (DSEA) (also known as PATRIOT II) which contains a multitude of new and sweeping law enforcement and intelligence gathering powers, many of which are not related to terrorism, that would severely dilute, if not undermine, many basic constitutional rights, as well as disturb our unique system of checks and balances by:

a. diminishing personal privacy by removing important checks on government surveillance authority,

b. reducing the accountability of government to the public by increasing government secrecy,

c. expanding the definition of "terrorism" in a manner that threatens the constitutionally protected rights of Americans,

d. seriously eroding the right of all persons to due process of law; and

WHEREAS, we believe that these new powers pose a particular threat to the civil rights and liberties of the residents of our county who are Arab, Muslim, or of South Asian descent; and

WHEREAS, more than 130 communities throughout the country, and three states have enacted resolutions reaffirming support for civil rights and civil liberties in the face of government policies that threaten these values, and demanding accountability from law enforcement agencies regarding their use of these new powers; and

WHEREAS, the citizens of Lane County want their commissioners and government to take a stand affirming the civil liberties and human rights of its residents,


1. The County Administrator is directed every three months to compile from each County Department a list of all contacts, requests for assistance, requests for information, and any other communication from any federal agency, or on behalf of any federal agency, under the auspices of enforcing any of the provisions mentioned in the body of this Order. The information shall be disclosed to the fullest extent permissible by law. The information to be compiled includes but is not limited to:

a. The number of any detainees connected with "terrorism" investigations;

b. The names of any detainees connected with "terrorism" investigations;

c. The charges, if any, lodged against each above mentioned detainee;

d. The number of times federal authorities contacted any department in furtherance of monitoring political meetings, religious gatherings or other similar activities;

e. The number of times education records have been requested or obtained from public schools and institutions of higher learning in Lane County under section 507 of the UPA, and

f. The number of times library records have been requested or obtained from libraries in Lane County under section 215 of UPA

g. The number of times records of books purchased by store patrons have been requested or obtained from bookstores in Lane County under section 215 of UPA.

2. The County Administrator shall request a report from the Lane County Sheriff disclosing, to the extent permitted by law, any incidents within the past year in which he has been requested by federal authorities to take part in enforcement or furtherance of the above-listed statutes, regulations, and orders. The County Administrator shall request updated information every three months. The information requested by the County Administrator will include, but will not be limited to, the following:

a. information regarding "sneak and peak" searches, that is, searches without either advance warning or prompt notification following a search, pursuant to Section 213 of the UPA,

b. information regarding military tribunals involving Lane County residents;

c. information regarding requests to obtain library, educational, and bookstore purchase records in connection with an investigation of suspected terrorist activity;

d. information regarding the involvement of Sheriff's deputies in the investigation of immigration offenses;

e. information regarding surveillance of religious services, internet chat-rooms, political demonstrations, or other public meetings in connection with an investigation of suspected terrorist activity.

3. The County Administrator shall advise the Board and the Lane County Human Rights Advisory Committee of the results of his inquiries within three months of the date of this Order, and every three months for as long as federal laws and orders specified in this resolution remain in place.

4. The Sheriff is further requested to advise the Board of how his Department complies with ORS 181.850 and 181.575, including providing copies of any applicable written procedures.

5. All county agencies are directed not to use county funds in any manner which would violate the civil liberties of Lane County residents, as outlined in this resolution. No contract or agreement for any service will be approved by the Board if the terms of the contract or agreement is for the purpose of conducting any activities under the provisions of Federal law mentioned in the body of this Order in a manner that would violate the civil liberties of Lane County residents.

6. The County Administrator is directed to transmit a copy of this Order to Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Gordon Smith, and Representative Peter DeFazio, accompanied by letters, urging them to:

a. monitor federal anti-terrorism tactics,

b. work to repeal the UPA, Homeland Security and other laws and regulations that infringe on civil rights and liberties,

c. ensure that provisions of the UPA "sunset" in accordance with the provisions of the Act, and

d. take a lead in Congressional action to prohibit passage of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act, known as "Patriot II" and/or any other new legislation that performs similar assaults on privacy, due process, increased government secrecy, and the checks and balances in government.

7. The County Administrator is directed to transmit a copy of this Order to Governor Kulongoski, Oregon Attorney General Hardy Meyers and appropriate members of the State Legislature, accompanied by letters urging them to ensure the state does not weaken in any way ORS 181.850 or ORS 181.575, urging them to ensure that any policies implemented by the Legislature do not infringe on civil liberties as described in this Order, and urging them to take a public stand supporting a statewide resolution prohibiting the expenditure of state funds in support of the federal laws, regulations and policies described in this Order.

8. The County Administrator is directed to transmit a copy of this Order to President George W. Bush and U.S. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft.

9. The provisions of this Order shall be severable, and if any phrase, clause, sentence or provision of this Order is declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be contrary to the Constitution of the United States or of the State of Oregon or the applicability thereof to any agency, person, or circumstances is held invalid, the validity of the remainder of this Order and the applicability thereof to any other agency, person or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

DATED this 2nd day of July, 2003.


Peter Sorenson, Chair
Lane County Board of Commissioners

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