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Archive for Friday, September 14, 2001

U.S. groups will monitor civil liberties

September 14, 2001

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Civil libertarians are girding for a backlash that could limit individual freedoms as a result of this week's terrorist attacks.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California has started a telephone hot line to monitor incursions into civil liberties, particularly racial profiling.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights is meeting today in San Francisco to discuss the risks of repressive steps taken in the name of safety and plan a response if needed.

"It is a slippery slope when you say you want to be safer at the expense of civil liberties and civil rights," said Eva Paterson, executive director of the regional affiliate of The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "We have to be careful that we don't overreact to it."

An ABC-Washington Post poll taken shortly after Tuesday's attacks on the East Coast found 66 percent of Americans would give up some civil liberties to fight terrorism.

Congressional leaders have not proposed any changes in law at this point to respond to security threats, and some groups say it is premature to worry about limitations to privacy and other rights.

"We are not looking for draconian proposals that don't yet exist," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. "If they are presented, we will need to look at them."

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