County becomes sixth jurisdiction in Virginia to express concerns

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has sent a letter to its congressional representatives expressing concerns about provisions of the Patriot Act that infringe on civil rights and civil liberties.
Fairfax joins the governing bodies of Arlington, Alexandria, Charlottesville, Falls Church and Richmond, all of which have also taken a stand against some aspects of the Patriot Act. Although these localities passed formal resolutions, something that Fairfax decided against, the effect of Fairfax’s letter is much the same.
“This is an important development in the movement to turn back the provisions of the Patriot Act that most seriously threaten our freedoms,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “ Fairfax is the largest jurisdiction in the state and contains a representative sampling of the state’s population. Its opinions on the Patriot Act will have an impact.”
Fairfax’s announcement is also timely. Congressional committees are meeting over the next several weeks to decide whether or not to allow certain provisions of the Patriot Act to expire in December as scheduled.
“We believe that all of Virginia’s congressional representatives, not just those representing Fairfax County, will be interested in what Fairfax has to say,” added Willis.  We will be distributing a copy of the letter to each of them.”
The following are excerpts from the letter sent yesterday by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly to Congressman Tom Davis:
…we encourage you to review the Act and support measures as necessary to modify the statute so as not to undermine the fundamental rights and liberties guaranteed by the constitutions of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States. Virginia is the place that first enunciated the human rights of all Americans, and your continued advocacy is vital to ensure the Patriot Act reflects this as it is debated and modified.
Specifically, we endorse bipartisan efforts in the House of Representatives, to curtail unwarranted intrusions into the library records of our residents. Further, we believe that the Constitution and due process of law must govern all search warrants, property seizures, detentions, interrogations, prosecutions or deportations that may be triggered pursuant to the Patriot Act.
According to today’s Washington Post, Connolly is quoted as saying: "One out of four people in Fairfax is foreign-born. We want to make sure that all of those people are reassured that when they encounter the justice system they will be treated fairly."

Contact: Kent Willis, Executive Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022