Mao ILL Patron Clams Up

The original newspaper source that broke the DHS-ILL monitoring story has a follow-up report today. New quotes include: "The UMass Dartmouth Library has not been visited by agents of any type seeking information about the borrowing patterns or habits of any of its patrons," and, "the student and his parents have made it clear to The Standard-Times that they do not want to discuss what happened." Sounds like the Kerri Dunn case, don't it?

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Which Library Did the Feds Visit?

This story states that the original story was wrong about the social security number being needed to do an ILL. That may be true, and if it were, so what? Does it mean the whole incident never happened? I don't think so. But a new detail emerges in this followup story, that the ILL was processed by another school, UMass Amherst. Unfortunately, no further details are forthcoming about this, since UMass Amherst says "it is university policy not to discuss or divulge any information on library borrowing. When asked whether federal agents requested information on a student's inter-library loan request, Mr. Blaguszewski said that under the Patriot Act, the university "is not allowed to discuss whether federal agents have visited or requested information." This response is very interesting, as it implies and at the very least, leaves open, the possibility that the feds did indeed visit the school and/or student in question. But what is strange about this is why the schoool ths student presumeably approached to get the book, his school at Dartmouth, wherein the book was missing off the shelf, denies being visited by the Feds, while the library at Amhurst, who is supplying the book invokes Patriot Act laws as a way to avoid talking about this. If Dartmouth states the feds did not visit and Amhurst is not saying, who do you think they visited? If Amhurst was not visited, why would they be compelled to invoke Patriot Act laws to avoid telling us? Also: did the student perhaps actually physically go himself to Amhurst to get the book (because he was, say, in a hurry and could not wait for the ILL process to be completed), hence he was asked for an SS number, since it was not his school? Should be easy to determine, to get a handle on this - without breaking Patriot Act laws -if Amhurst requires SS numbers to loan out books to people who are not their own students. Another facet of the followup story is the DHS flunky's response to the question of the Fed's monitoring ILLs and maintaing a book watchlist, "Mr. Whitworth could not comment on the record whether the agency monitors inter-library loans, or whether there is a watch list of books that the agency maintains." Oh really, is that so? If they are not doing it, why do they refuse to tell us straight out? As I mentioned in a reply to the posting of the original story, there was posted here in LisNews in July of 2004 an article from a columnist who indeed asserted there is a watchlist - of over 800 books. Hence with regard to this incident at the Dartmouth libary, this is NOT the first time the idea has appeared of the Feds maintaining a book watchlist. One extremely strongly wishes that ALA and various giant media, such as the NYT, would investigate the probable existence of such a watchlist, that is, prove or disprove it once and for all. In light of these observation and questions, John's claim this may be like the Kerri Dunn case strikes me as utterly implausible.

What happened to journalistic standards

Did Jayson Blair have a hand in this? The article was based on second hand information, the research behind the article was lacking if not non-existant. How could an ethical journalist stoop to such lows, how could a responsible editor allow it into print?

While many people seem to want so much for this to be true, it is most certainly a fabrication. Every time I read another story about it another untruth (I would call them lies but I won't ascribe to maliciousness what can be explained by incompetence) surfaces.

Why won't those the who have been called upon, or took it upon themselves to blog about the issue follow up? Is it because they still believe it to be true, or because they wish it were true? If it were true one would think the ALA would have it front and center, but there are no mentions of it at all.

Re:What happened to journalistic standards

"While many people seem to want so much for this to be true, it is most certainly a fabrication." I agree the story is based on 2nd hand sources, hence it is not a very well sourced story, but I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it as a fabrication. For instance, if a student made it up, wouldn't he use something else besides Mao's The Little Red Book, which has been around a long time and has long since lost it's shock value (a book he is unlikely to know once even had a shock value in the 1960's). He could have picked out something much more recent and obvious if he was out to pull a stunt. Also, the fact his parents are admanant about sheilding his identity could be interpreted as resulting from getting the bejesus scared out of them from the Feds visit. If it didn't happen, why be so secretive? Besides this, the other issues mentioned in my reply above, particulary the DHS's refusal to confirm if a watch list exists, strengthens the impression something strange is going on here that isn't good for our continued freedoms.

Re:Which Library Did the Feds Visit?

UMass Dartmouth and UMass Amherst are, startlingly enough, both part of the University of Massachusetts. He would only have needed his UMass Dartmouth id. The original story says they visited UMass Dartmouth, not UMass Amherst. There now seems to be uncertainty as to whether it was DHS or FBI agents. And the more details prove that to be wrong, or that change when questioned, yes, the less plausible the whole thing looks.

It's also interesting that another version of the story is out there now, alleged to have happened at USCS, but otherwise identical. Hoax turning into urban legend, I think.

Re:What happened to journalistic standards

"Did Jayson Blair have a hand in this?"--No, I think it was Judith Miller. . . or maybe Karl Rove.

Re:What happened to journalistic standards

Armstrong Williams, Rendon Group, Lincoln Group. Reverse spin to elicit exactly as expected.

People Want to Believe

Sometimes, people want to believe regardless of the facts.

The patron has been identified

Re:The patron has been identified

Whoops- never mind. I miread the sentence and thought the reporters name was the patrons name. I apologize about the error.

If I were betting.....

This case has weak unsubstantiated facts from what I have seen so far. If I had to bet whether this was a hoax or not I would put my money on the student's story being untrue.
Other than the student saying he was visited by the government there is currently nothing to back up that claim.

Re:If I were betting.....

More accurate to say there is currently nothing being offered to back up the claim. Pending further investigation, there could be something that could be offered but is not, which, given the student's wish to stay quiet, is what I put my money on.

Re:People Want to Believe

And one might add: sometimes, people don't want to believe regardless of the facts.

Re:People Want to Believe

Please don't tell me people believe the story contains any facts other than the name of the professors and where the student goes to school -- even where the ILL came from is in question (isn't it?). Seriously all this is right now is a rumor. It's a rumor in part because of bad journalism and also because the student won't even let a lawyer come forward and speak for him/her.

There are college history students doing indepth research every day on more extreme topics why aren't more stories coming to light? Why is Mao so much threatening than declassified government documents?

Right now this story is nothing more than the little student who cried wolf. Regardless of what we think of the government spying on it's citizens we have to base our decisions on fact not rumor.

Re:People Want to Believe

What facts have been provided? I see no verifiable facts.

If you do I am more than willing to listen.

Re:Which Library Did the Feds Visit?

>Kerri Dunn case strikes me as utterly implausible.Story has more holes than swiss cheese and you think that is utterly implausible that it is a hoax. It may not be a hoax, but there is no way that it is utterly implausible that the story is a hoax.

Re:If I were betting.....

More accurate to say there is currently nothing being offered to back up the claim. Pending further investigation, there could be something that could be offered but is not, which, given the student's wish to stay quiet, is what I put my money on.

It was almost painful to read that. What law school did you go to?

Re:People Want to Believe

In a more "normal" world (pre-911, such as it was), your objections might have a large degree of validity. But your reply is coming from a place of ignorance and naivete. This case is merely a relatively little manifestation of very powerful forces with connections to much bigger things, such as, for example, multiple secret prisons, kidnappings of foreign nationals in their own country, fraudulent arguments for involving the US in a disasterous, immoral war in Iraq and Afghanistan (bleeding 1 billion dollars a week from our Treasury), radically high and increasing oil and gas prices, and much else that is so negative and harmful to humanity at large. Such reports as this from the Umass college cannot be looked at in isolation from most of the other negative developments in the world since 9-11 and the election of Bush. There is a sense that such things are part of a much bigger picture of everything accelerating out of control - or into much deeper control by tyrannical and fascist forces. If you cannot feel this on even a purely visceral level, as do I and so many people I know, then you're way too deaf and blind for any mere words that could be offered for convincing you otherwise. But if this big picture is what I think it is and the forces behind it aren't slowed down or stopped, which they probably won't be, then get ready to see such incidents to increase by magnitudes, and where, unlike in the present moment with this incident, there will be no doubt, with plenty of "evidence," that something truly evil is happening. But by then it will be too late to do anything about it. Just ask the folks who lived in Germany, Poland and other countries around 1939 what it felt like before the deluge fully hit. From talking to such folks myself, it seems like it felt a lot like it feels now. And the more you connect the dots, the more you will feel it.

Re:Which Library Did the Feds Visit?

You misquote me or take me out of context. I don't think the Dartmouth story is utterly implausible as a hoax; certainly it is plausible it's hoax, though I'm not convinced it is. What is implausible is saying the the Kerri Dunn case is similar to this case.

Re:People Want to Believe

Comparing this to Poland or Germany of the 1930's is absurd.

This was a fictional account by a bad reporter about an event that you seem to wish had happened. I don't know why you want to portray the United States or the DHS, or Bush as some evil terrorist. I can't begin to understand why some US Citizens are so remarkably Chomskylike and seem to long for this country's destruction.

If you are looking for terrorists, the United States is not the first place you should look, try the Middle East.

Oh and thanks for Godwining the discussion.

Re:People Want to Believe

If you cannot feel this on even a purely visceral level, as do I and so many people I know, then you're way too deaf and blind for any mere words that could be offered for convincing you otherwise.

I never said I cannot feel this -- I am fighting the good fight locally and professionally. But to not throw dirt in the face of the work many are doing to ensure our civil liberties we cannot jump to conclusions.
I am keeping my emotions in check on this particular story until a lawyer comes forth and speaks for the student. Until then a logical person has to assume, with all the gaps in the story, it is not completely true.

Just ask the folks who lived in Germany, Poland and other countries around 1939 what it felt like before the deluge fully hit.

Funny you mention that -- I did my history degree research paper on Nazi propaganda -- I know (from primary resources and survivors/decedents of survivors I've spoken to) what those who lived in Germany, Poland and other countries felt and saw in the press around (and before) 1939 . And as an aside, my research was during the time of the Oklahoma City bombing and the FBI never came to visit me about my research.

I admire your passion but am afraid it may very well be directed at the wrong thing.

Re:People Want to Believe

Inside Higher Ed now has a story in which the DHS agents were FBI agents, and the student had to go to their office to straighten it out. I'm being patient with holes in the original story because it was something the prof threw out when asked to talk about the wiretapping story, and happened awhile before that interview took place.

New Server Test

Sorry, just testing the new server

Re:If I were betting.....

The more time elapses, the screwier and more full of holes the story looks. Nothing has been verified, and what appeared to be facts are turning out to be quite impressively uncertain. Even which UMass library the student is supposed to have made the request at has changed back and forth.

And why wouldn't the student have a lawyer making a public statement by this point? If this were real, the ACLU would step in in a heartbeat if the student couldn't afford his own lawyer.

The sad reality is...

is that this story COULD be true. And sadder that some librarians think patron surveilance is a good thing.

Re:If I were betting.....

If this were real I hope the ALA would have something to say by now too.

Re:The sad reality is...

Oh come now, anything could be true. Monkeys could fly from my arse, but I doubt they will.

I don't know any librarians that think patron surveilance is a good thing. I certainly don't. Can you point these librarians out to me so I can talk to them about the freedom to read what one wants. You know the freedom we have here in the US as opposed to say Cuba where they imprision librarians for providing materials their patrons desire.

Re:If I were betting.....

they too are still trying to figure out if it is real...

Re:If I were betting.....

The ALA is greatly interested--and still trying to verify the story.

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