US council defies Bush over Patriot Act

Los Angeles city council has defied President George Bush and voted to back legislation that would repeal parts of the USA Patriot Act.

    President Bush wants Congress to extend Patriot Act

    The council voted 9-2 to support a law repealing provisions in the Act on Wednesday, which Bush had asked Congress to extend in his State of the Union address.

    Councilwoman Jan Perry voiced her support for human rights activists who said parts of the Patriot Act were unconstitutional.

    "As a city, we pride ourselves on being inclusive and protecting the basic rights of all people," said Perry, who introduced the largely-symbolic resolution.

    "Significant portions of the Patriot Act destroy the spirit of inclusion and encourage racial profiling and other violations of our rights as people of this great nation."

    Threat

    Urging Congress to extend the Act that expires next year, Bush warned "the terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule".

    The anti-terrorist legislation expanded the government's ability to access individuals' medical, mental health, financial and educational records.

    "Significant portions of the Patriot Act destroy the spirit of inclusion and encourage racial profiling and other violations of our rights as people of this great nation."

    Jan Perry,
    Los Angeles councilwoman

    Los Angeles Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa said the council, which has no actual power to change US federal law, should still make a stand.

    "If we cannot speak out against the Patriot Act, then why are we here in the first place?"

    But two council members cast dissenting votes. "11 September still lives in my heart," said councilman Jack Weiss, a former police officer.

    Big brother

    The city council of the second biggest US metropolis also voted to oppose portions of the legislation that require public libraries to monitor, provide information or report on the borrowing practices of patrons.

    Ramona Ripston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, characterised the council's action as a "huge victory" for civil liberties.

    "Angelenos should be proud that their City Council stands on the side of those who believe we can be both safe and free," she said.

    "The City Council's actions underscore the fact that there is widespread opposition to the Patriot Act."

    SOURCE: AFP


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