WASHINGTON: Advocacy groups ranging from ultra-conservative to ultra-liberal have come together to turn public opinion against parts of the Patriot Act now that the polarizing legislation is up for renewal.
Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances (PRCB), led by former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), counts among its members the American Conservative Union and Gun Owners of America, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
PRCB has brought Dittus Communications on board to handle media relations outreach and support, said Dittus SAE Laura Brinker.
She declined to offer details of the scope of the contract, or the value, but said the firm, known largely for work in the public policy and tech sectors, has been issuing regular media advisories and talking points.
Barr told PRWeek that PRCB is primarily concerned with three sections of the Patriot Act: section 213, known as "sneak and peek," which allows federal agents to search a home or business without notice; section 215, which allows federal agents to collect records, such as medical documents; and section 802, which broadly defines domestic terrorism.
"We've taken a practical look at [the Patriot Act]," Barr said. "If we only accepted a complete overhaul, it wouldn't succeed."
Barr said he'll speak throughout the US to educate Americans about the act, as well as hold meetings with lawmakers. As a former member of Congress, Barr enjoys unique access and freedom of movement within the House.
Mark Corallo, public affairs director at the Department of Justice under former Attorney General John Ashcroft, said outcries against the act haven't had much of an impact.
But Corallo did say that after groups like the ACLU voiced their opposition, "we didn't go out and defend the Patriot Act as vigorously as we should have early on."