FBI urges police to watch for people carrying almanacs

Steven M. Cohen spotted an interesting AP Report that says the FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning.

In a bulletin sent Christmas Eve to about 18,000 police organizations, the FBI said terrorists may use almanacs "to assist with target selection and pre-operational planning."

It urged officers to watch during searches, traffic stops and other investigations for anyone carrying almanacs, especially if the books are annotated in suspicious ways. [Via Foreword]

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I checked my copy!

It's a few years out of date, and it was not annotated in suspicious ways.

the jig is up, caver!

Your 'nac checks out clean, but that halogen light behind you looks mightily suspicious. Pro'ly a satellite dish or anthrax-spewer or something. We're watching you, buster.

pardon. that would be *carver, not caver

(just a little psy-op stuff to keep the boy rattled.)

They only have themselves to blame

This is so getting out of control. When will people understand that virtually ANY information WHATSOEVER could be of possible interest to terrorists. It's the admission price to a free society to have information available that good people can use to good purpose and bad people to bad purpose.Ironically, if the FBI wants to halt the easy availability of information flowing from almanacs, they need to check closer to home. A lot of the tables in almanancs are ultimately pulled from the the Statistical Abstract of the United States.I shudder to think what's coming next -- alerts for people carrying road maps, newspapers and newsmagazines in their car? They could be terrorists looking for targets of opportunity! Just think what you could do with the announcements for weddings, funerals and free concerts. Just plot the locations on your road map and away you go! Hit the thickest concentrations of events.I AM NOT SUGGESTING ANYONE DO ANY SUCH THING! That was a game of "what if"!

Re:They only have themselves to blame

This certainly gives them the handy excuse they need to invoke that infamous Section 215 which Ashcroft asserted had never been invoked while not saying it never would be. I wonder how the Bush administration would react if it ever found out about all the information on the internet. Why, some of that information is actually correct and accessible outside the confines of the U.S.

Uh-oh!

If this had only come out a couple months earlier I know I would have been watched due to that one "treasure hunt" assignment in reference class that had students looking for resources in the campus library to learn how to work with and gain familiarity with...

Re:They only have themselves to blame

>This is so getting out of control. When will people understand that virtually ANY information WHATSOEVER could be of possible interest to terrorists.

Ok sparky, the alert was not intended to ban almanacs. It was not even an alert to the general public. It was a notice to law enforcement to watch for certain reference materials. People in law enforcement learn to watch for certain things. Books are not something they would normally look at. This notice is designed to raise awareness among law enforcement officials. It would be a shame if a law enforcement officer working within the law, with a warrant, overlooked an almanac or atlas that was full of research and targeting information because they dismissed it as "just a book" lying on the car seat.

Re:They only have themselves to blame

Biblio..again, your common sense gives this fellow library guy hope.

God forbid any rumors about black unmarked helicopters flying over public libraries.

Re:They only have themselves to blame

When I posted my original comment starting with "This is so getting out of control..." I had forgotten to log in. I now claim publicly and stand by my comments.Rereading my comment, I could where Bibliofuture got the idea about my ranting "the FBI is banning almanacs" though I did not say so directly. I never said the alert was aimed at the general public.If the bulletin leads to police checking for "one more clue" once their suspicions have been aroused, I could live with that. Based on past police and FBI conduct, I think it is a legitimate concern that an innocent person could be pulled over for a traffic violation, have an almanac or some other kind of reference in their car and be subjected to hours of fruitless interrogation.Aside from that, the quotes in the newspaper article made it sound like the FBI was concerned that Almanacs could be used to build profiles of targets. Given the documented removal of information considered "Unclassified, but sensitive" from the public domain by this administration, it's not crazy to think that such "dual-use" materials as maps and statistics might start being doled out on a "need to know" basis.Repressive states around the world routinely suppress basic facts about their countries in the name of "State Security." I am adamant that this not happen here.- DanielP.S. - If you're comparing me to Sparky the Wonder Penguin of This Modern World fame, I'm honored!P.P.S - For a right-wing perspective on information loss and civil liberty concerns, try being a regular visitor at www.lewrockwell.com and the Cato Institute

Re:They only have themselves to blame

Daniel - "right-wing" is a nebulous label as you know.

For example many "right-wingers", myself included, would not agree with libertarians (like lewrockwell)on legalizing marijuana or militias.

I think a more accurate perspecive on civil liberties with respect to the Patriot Act would be the CNN/USA Today poll conducted last August. Please keep in mind this sample in not resticted to "right-wingers" or Republicans only.

ORGANIZATION CONDUCTING SURVEY: GALLUP ORGANIZATION

SURVEY SPONSOR: Cable News Network, U.S.A. Today

DATE OF RELEASE OF SOURCE DOCUMENT: August 29, 2003

QUESTION:
(As you may know, shortly after the terrorist attacks (on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon) on September 11, 2001, a law called the Patriot Act was passed which makes it easier for the federal government to get information on suspected terrorists through court-ordered wiretaps and searches.) Based on what you have read or heard, do you think the Patriot Act-goes too far, is about right, or does not go far enough--in restricting people's civil liberties in order to fight terrorism?

RESULTS:
Too far - 22%

About right - 48

Not far enough - 21

No opinion - 9

Re:They only have themselves to blame

Tomeboy,All political labels are nebulous. Both the Cato Institute and the folks at lewrockwell.com indentify themselves as being in opposition to the "American Left" as they understand it. My post offered links to "a right wing perspective" not "THE right-wing perspective." Tossing that in was a little over-the-top and perhaps not needed. I'm just tired of hearing how civil liberties are a leftie cause exclusively. It's plainly not as the Otter Amendment on sneek and peek showed.The legalization of marijuana (or militias) is a seperate question from the perceived loss of civil liberties. William F. Buckley of the National Review is on record supporting legalization of drugs and prostitution, and he's stated that the gov't is doing a good job on protecting civil liberties.Your citation of the CNN/USA Today poll shows what I've seen in other polls -- most Americans do not feel that their civil liberties are at risk. That doesn't answer the question whether civil liberties have been lost -- only whether people feel a loss.Think about it. If a poll had been done in August 2001, would a majority of Americans -- or even New Yorkers have felt personally threatened by Islamic extremists? That wouldn't have meant that terrorists weren't a threat, only that Americans didn't feel threatened by terrorism. Some interesting findings on polling data on Civil Liberties can be found at the nonpartisan Public Agenda Online web site at http://www.publicagenda.org/specials/terrorism/ter ror_pubopinion4.htmAmong its more interesting findings is that fully half of the people surveyed in the August Gallup poll said they weren't familiar with the USA Patriot Act.That's all. Happy New Year! - Daniel

Re:They only have themselves to blame

>>Among its more interesting findings is that fully half of the people surveyed in the August Gallup poll said they weren't familiar with the USA Patriot Act.

They obviously don't read this board ; )

The paradox that drives me mad is that many who decry supposedly draconian measures to thwart terrorism are the same ones demanding answers why Bush didn't know about 9/11 before hand. (except for Dean who believes he did). A discussion for another time.

As for Buckley, it's not his support of drugs and prostitution that confounds me as much as how a native New Yorker speakes with such a haughty English accent.

Nice discussion and Happy New Year to yours as well .

Re:They only have themselves to blame

Your citation of the CNN/USA Today poll shows what I've seen in other polls -- most Americans do not feel that their civil liberties are at risk. That doesn't answer the question whether civil liberties have been lost -- only whether people feel a loss.

The problem with that is that most Americans don't know squat about their civil liberties. Even journalism students, apparently, in most cases, have only vague notions of rights of freedoms outside of freedom of the press and couldn't for the life of them name the other rights in the First Amendment. Civil liberties are a lot like oxygen; you only miss it when it isn't there. When something is so ubiquitous that you take it for granted, however, the tendency is to wonder what all the fuss is about when people who are more sensitive to civil liberties start shouting about the attacks on them.

It doesn't help that some self-styled pundits and many elected officious don't know any more about civil liberties. Rush Limbaugh's gaffe about the First Amendment is a prime example. He said on the air that it was the First Amemdment for a reason and that the Founding Fathers had planned it that way; in his statement, he implied that the Bill of Rights had some kind of hierarchical structure. This is flatly wrong on two counts. One: the First Amendment was known as Article the Third in 1791, but the first two articles were not adopted by the states, and Article the Third was, making it the first of the amendments to be passed. Two: No individual right or freedom has greater power than any other; they must all be applied in equal measure. Which principle is enumerated in your 14th Amendment, I think it is.

Re:They only have themselves to blame

"a law called the Patriot Act was passed which makes it easier for the federal government to get information on suspected terrorists through court-ordered wiretaps and searches."I'd say (and it's silly nit picky stuff, but I have little to do at work today) the problem most people have with the law is not with the law making it easier for the federal government to get information on suspected terrorists, but rather the law makes it easier for the federal government to get information on anyone/everyone, therefore I'd call shenanigans on the wording of the poll, if it was up to me to make such a declaration.

Only left-wing newspapers...

You're about 9 months too late for newspapers. One bookstore owner was turned in on a tip by a customer for reading a muck-racking type free newspaper in line to get coffee. He got visited by FBI agents...-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

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