To the editor:

We enjoyed your analysis of the Chicago Tribune’s recent editorial series on the USA Patriot Act [Hot Type, December 5]. While it made many important points about the legislation, the article overlooked one important development.

We agree with your thesis that different “types” of civil libertarians may have varying perspectives on the act. Yet your argument should have also included the fact that many groups not traditionally recognized as civil liberties advocates have come together to oppose the act. Indeed, resistance to the act and its related executive orders has seen the leaders of the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Rutherford Institute, as well as bona fide conservatives like Newt Gingrich, Bob Barr, Dick Armey, Pat Buchanan, and Phyllis Schlafly, join forces with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Religious Action Center, and other “traditional” civil libertarians.

Indeed, the national grassroots campaign to pass local resolutions condemning various aspects of the USA Patriot Act is one of the most energized and admirable displays of American democracy in years, uniting citizens across the political spectrum. The fact that more than 222 communities in 35 states have passed such resolutions sends a strong signal that the act cannot stand and must be revised. The recent introduction of several bills, including the Security and Freedom Ensured Act of 2003 (HR 3352), the Benjamin Franklin True Patriot Act (HR 3171), the Reasonable Notice and Search Act of 2003 (S 1701), and the PATRIOT Oversight Restoration Act of 2003 (S 1695), demonstrates that our federal legislators are beginning to recognize and respond to the considerable public fear and concern about this act.

As one local example, last month in Chicago an interfaith coalition, including the Muslim Civil Rights Center, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, and the American Friends Service Committee, hosted David Cole at a mosque in southwest Chicago. These three groups, which may not always agree on every political and social issue, were able to work together to generate awareness of the civil liberties intrusions of the current administration in Washington. David Cole’s forceful presentation of the assault on our civil liberties linked all of our faith communities for our concern for the rights of immigrants and refugees in our city. Thank you again for the Reader’s continued attention to this crucial topic.

Jane Ramsey

Executive director

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs