The Massachusetts PATRIOT Act:

Massachusetts People Against Tyranny, Redressing the Intrusions Of Totalitarianism


WHEREAS, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the birthplace of American Freedom and Democracy,


WHEREAS, The General Court of Massachusetts and the people of Massachusetts continue to take pride in our early role as leaders in resisting English tyranny and in the founding of our Nation, as well as the General Court’s long and distinguished history of protecting the civil rights and liberties of the people of Massachusetts; and,


WHEREAS, The Declaration of Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, adopted as part of the Constitution of Massachusetts in 1780, secured for the people the most extensive protection of civil rights of any State constitution, including, most notably, the only existing explicit protection from “all unreasonable searches and seizures”(Art. XIV) at the time of its ratification; and,


WHEREAS, the people of Massachusetts were the first Americans to shed their blood in the struggle to, in the words of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”; and,


WHEREAS, the people of Massachusetts have consistently distinguished themselves in the service of their state and the union against enemies both foreign and domestic in the ongoing struggle for the freedom of the people of the United States of America, and the people of the World; and,


WHEREAS, it is the longstanding tradition of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to honor the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice defending our nation, and furthering the principles of Freedom and Democracy everywhere; and,


WHEREAS, on September 11, 2001, for the first time since the War of 1812, the continental United States was subjected to an attack from abroad when terrorists killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, XXX of whom were from Massachusetts, by hijacking four commercial airliners, destroying the World Trade Center in New York City, and attempting to destroy the Pentagon; and,  

WHEREAS, in response to these tragic and devastating events, Congress adopted, after minimal debate, the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56) in an attempt to enhance law enforcement capabilities; and,

WHEREAS, while the prevention of future terrorist attacks is a critical national priority, the measures we take to protect our security must be guided by a respect and devotion to the Nation’s founding principles, as enshrined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; and,

WHEREAS, while sunset review dates were attached to certain provisions, the final bill remains, perhaps, the most severe legislative attack on civil liberties since the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts in the 1790s; and,

WHEREAS, under the auspices of both the USA PATRIOT Act and related executive orders, Arab, Muslim and South Asian immigrant communities have been unfairly singled out for surveillance, special registration, and interrogation by the FBI and by immigration officials; and,

WHEREAS, according to the report of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General, dated April 2003, the above-mentioned program has caused many people to be detained for minor immigration violations unrelated to terrorist activities, held in jail for extended periods without sufficient access to legal counsel, without being timely informed of the charges against them, and subjected to physical and verbal abuse; and,  

WHEREAS, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy has taken the lead in challenging the discriminatory special “call in” regulatory program of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS); and,

WHEREAS, the ability of the Central Intelligence Agency to engage in domestic spying activities, with tragic repercussions, fortunately halted in the 1970s, but is now being revived pursuant to sections 223 and 901 of the Act; and,      

 WHEREAS, section 213 greatly lowers the threshold required for a court to issue a search warrant; and,

WHEREAS, section 216 nearly eliminates judicial supervision of telephone and Internet surveillance; and,

 WHEREAS, section 411 gives the U.S. Attorney General extraordinarily broad authority to designate domestic groups as “terrorist organizations,” and,

 WHEREAS, both sections 411 and 412 subject noncitizens to indefinite detention or deportation even if they have not committed a crime; and,

WHEREAS, several sections of the bill, including 215, 218, 358, and 508, permit law enforcement authorities to have broad access to sensitive mental health, library, business, financial, and educational records despite the existence of previously adopted State and federal laws which were intended to strengthen the protection of these types of records from unnecessary and unjustified intrusion; and,

WHEREAS, there has been a strong outcry in Massachusetts against the ability of federal authorities, under section 215 of the Act, to obtain judicially-issued warrants for health records, financial and credit card information as well as library or bookstore patron records based on minimal information, and the accompanying prohibition on the providers of such information from revealing any information regarding the request; and,

WHEREAS, Congresspersons Capuano, Frank, McGovern, Olver and Tierney opposed the USA PATRIOT Act; and,

WHEREAS, 12 cities and towns within Massachusetts, as well as numerous municipalities outside of Massachusetts and the state legislatures of Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont, have expressed their deep concerns relative to the USA PATRIOT Act’s historic degradation of civil liberties, and

WHEREAS, in testimony before the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on June 5, 2003, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced his intention to seek new legislation to further expand the already broad powers granted by the USA PATRIOT Act; and


WHEREAS, the USA PATRIOT Act, related executive orders, and proposed expansions of the USA PATRIOT Act’s powers gravely threaten the civic values, personal freedoms and individual liberty that are the foundation of our national existence; and


WHEREAS, these values and freedoms are, particularly in Massachusetts, the fruits of a hard-won struggle against tyranny, and represent a collective birthright that should not be easily or lightly relinquished; and


WHEREAS, by protesting the present violation of our inalienable rights and freedoms, the General Court of Massachusetts is working to preserve that collective birthright and fulfilling its patriotic duty to, in the words of the preamble to the Massachusetts Constitution, protect the power of the people to “enjoy in safety and tranquility their natural rights.”;




A. affirm its strong support for fundamental constitutional rights and its opposition to federal measures that infringe on these rights and liberties;

B. affirm its strong support for the rights of immigrants and oppose measures that single out individuals for legal scrutiny or enforcement activity based on their country of origin;

C. direct the Massachusetts State Police to:

(1) seek adequate written assurances from federal authorities that residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and individuals in the custody of the State who are placed in federal custody will not be subjected to military or secret detention or secret immigration proceedings without access to counsel and, absent such written assurances, refrain from assisting federal authorities to obtain custody of these individuals;

(2) refrain from engaging in the surveillance of individuals or groups of individuals based on their participation in activities protected by the First Amendment to the United States constitution, such as political advocacy or the practice of a religion, without reasonable and particularized suspicion of criminal conduct unrelated to the activity protected by the First Amendment to the United States constitution;

(3) refrain from using race, religion, ethnicity or national origin as a factor in selecting who is subject to investigatory activities unless race, religion, ethnicity or national origin is part of the description of a specific suspect in an active criminal investigation;

(4) refrain, whether acting alone or with federal law enforcement officers, from collecting or maintaining information about the political, religious or social views, associations or activities of any individual, group, association, organization, corporation, business or partnership unless such information directly relates to an investigation of criminal activity and there are reasonable grounds to believe that the target is involved in criminal conduct;

(5) provide advance or simultaneous notice of the execution of a search warrant to any resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts whose property is the subject of the search and refrain from participating in a joint search with any law enforcement agency absent assurances that such a notice will be provided;

(6) refrain from sponsoring, conducting training sessions for, or otherwise participating in any initiative, such as the terrorist information and prevention system, also known as TIPS, that encourages members of the general public to improperly perform law enforcement functions, such as conducting surveillance of or surreptitiously collecting information about neighbors, colleagues or customers whom they suspect of terrorist activity;

(7) refrain from the practice of stopping drivers or pedestrians for the purpose of scrutinizing their identification documents without reasonable and particularized suspicion of criminal activity; and

(8) protect the trust essential for good police work to take place in immigrant communities by reserving immigration enforcement for the appropriate federal agencies and keeping in place the traditional “firewall” separating criminal enforcement from immigration enforcement;

(9) report to the Joint Judiciary Committee, the Joint Public Safety Committee, and the House and Senate Ways and Means Committee, any request by federal authorities that, if granted, would cause agencies of the state to exercise powers or cooperate in the exercise of powers in apparent violation of a city ordinance or the laws or constitution of this state or of the United States, and to file any such report with the House and Senate Clerks’ Office concurrent with its submission to the House and Senate Committees;

D. direct public libraries to post in a prominent place within the library a notice as follows: "WARNING: Under Section 215 of the federal USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), records of books and other materials you borrow from this library may be obtained by federal agents. This law also prohibits librarians from informing you if records about you have been obtained by federal agents. Questions about this policy should be directed to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, Department of Justice, Washington, DC 20530."; and

E. direct public libraries to purge all borrowing records that are not necessary for the retrieval of books and to take all steps necessary to prevent breaches of privacy by federal law enforcement agencies; and, 

F. direct public schools and institutions of higher education to provide notice to individuals whose education records have been obtained by law enforcement agents pursuant to Section 507 of the USA PATRIOT Act

G. direct the Director of Commonwealth Homeland Security to seek periodically from federal authorities the following information in a form that facilitates an assessment of the effect of federal anti-terrorism efforts on the residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and provide to the Joint Judiciary Committee, the Joint Public Safety Committee, and the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees, no less than once every six months, a summary of the information obtained, for filing with the clerks of both the House and Senate not after the 30th of January, and the 30th of June respective to each six month period:

(1) the names of all residents of Massachusetts who have been arrested or otherwise detained by federal authorities as a result of terrorism investigations since September 11, 2001, and:

(a) the location of each detainee;

(b) the circumstances that led to each detention;

(c) the charges, if any, lodged against each detainee; and

(d) the name of counsel, if any, representing each detainee;

(2) the number of search warrants that have been executed in Massachusetts without notice to the subject of the warrant pursuant to Section 213 of the USA PATRIOT Act;

(3) the extent of electronic surveillance carried out in the Commonwealth pursuant to powers granted in the USA PATRIOT Act;

(4) the extent to which federal authorities are monitoring political meetings, religious gatherings or other activities within Massachusetts that are protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution;

(5) the number of times education records have been obtained from public schools and institutions of higher learning in Massachusetts pursuant to Section 507 of the USA PATRIOT Act;

(6) the number of times library records have been obtained from libraries in Massachusetts pursuant to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act; and,

(7) the number of times records of books purchased by store patrons have been obtained from bookstores in Massachusetts pursuant to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act; and,

(8) the nature and number of FBI and CIA liaison programs, surveillance efforts, or other information-gathering programs on college campuses in Massachusetts; and,


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry and Representatives Michael Capuano, William Delahunt, Barney Frank, Stephen Lynch, James McGovern, Marty Meehan, Richard Neal, John Olver and John Tierney; and,


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to the President George W. Bush and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to the Massachusetts State Police and to all public schools, institutions of higher learning and public libraries within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.