Support the Sanders-Otter-Conyers Amendment to the Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary Appropriations Bill of 2004 with a phone call to your House member. Consider following up with a fax. This amendment could be voted on the House floor as early as Monday, July 21, 2003.

Points to include in your call or fax:

  a.. Like the Freedom to Read Protection Act (H.R. 1157) sponsored by Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT), this amendment would restore legal standards and warrant procedures for investigations of libraries and bookstores which were in place before passage of the USA PATRIOT Act. H.R. 1157 has the bipartisan support of 129 cosponsors.

  b.. Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act severely expands the scope of materials the FBI can access with a warrant from the government's secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance ACT or "FISA" court. This section gives the FBI the power to search for any "tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items)" in any location without having to show "probable cause."

  c.. Many people across the country, including librarians and booksellers, are concerned about the "chilling effect" of this legislation, which encourages users to self-censor their reading choices. Three state legislatures, 44 state library associations, and 137 cities and towns representing nearly 17 million people have passed resolutions expressing their concerns with Section 215 and other specific provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act.

  d.. Passage of this amendment would still allow the FBI to use all constitutionally sanctioned means to obtain warrants and criminal subpoenas to access library and bookstore records pertinent to investigations related to terrorism or criminal acts.

The Sanders-Otter-Conyers amendment is part of a national grassroots campaign to protect our cherished civil liberties, which are threatened by the USA PATRIOT Act. This amendment and the Freedom to Read Protection Act are the first big step of that movement in Congress. People like you in cities and towns across the country must let your elected officials in Washington know that we can have security without sacrificing our constitutional guaranteed rights and liberties.

To find contact information for your House member, go to

Nancy Talanian, Director
Bill of Rights Defense Committee