More communities are denouncing the USA Patriot Act, even as U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft seeks greater antiterrorism powers, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. On Thursday, Ashcroft told Congress that he wanted stiffer penalties and broader authority to go after people who support terrorist groups. Passed two weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, the Patriot Act makes it easier for federal agents in terrorism investigations to gain access to personal records, search homes, and set up wiretaps.
So far, 123 municipal, county and state governments in 25 states have passed anti-Patriot Act resolutions, with more than half taking action in the last three months, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Although largely symbolic, the resolutions reflect pockets of unease about the pumped-up federal powers.
In Pennsylvania, four communities – York, Reading, Philadelphia, and Lansdowne in Delaware County – have approved anti-Patriot Act resolutions, while groups in Pittsburgh and State College are pushing for similar action.