U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall held a hearing on Wednesday for the Connecticut librarian involved with a PATRIOT request in Connecticut. U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor urged Hall to consider the government's interest and public policy demands for maintaining secrecy.
Hall said she would issue a ruling next week on the ACLU's motion for a preliminary injunction. Whichever way Hall rules, one or both of the parties is likely to take the matter to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Connecticut Post has some details, as does The NY Times,
The New York Times introduces the story this way: "It was a hearing where the name of the client was never disclosed, the subject of the federal inquiry remained unidentified and the context for the exercise was kept top secret."
It was of course a hearing on the use of the Patriot Act in a unknown Connecticut library. The Patriot Act is no longer an untried theory, but a genuine tool of investigation, which some find reprehensible, some find necessary.
The Greenwich Time has a half way interesting look at the progress of the lawsuit after disclosures that federal agents have used the Patriot Act to try to seize users' records at a Fairfield County library."It's closer to home and it makes us stop and think and see what impact this law has on local libraries," said Gonzalez, a member of the Connecticut Library Association. "A lot of people are very concerned about it and want to know what develops out of this."Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., said it "boggles" him that librarians -- who he said normally comply with other types of law enforcement investigations -- feel the need to oppose anti-terrorism probes.Librarians interviewed said they did not know which library FBI agents approached.
Kathleen writes "This is it. We have our hero....Thank you.
I hope all will be revealed soon, but we know who you are and we thank you with ALL our hearts.
"A copy of the ACLU lawsuit said the library involved "strictly guards the confidentiality and privacy of its library and internet records, and believes it should not be forced to disclose such records without a showing of compelling need and approval by a judge."
Using its expanded power under the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act, the F.B.I. is demanding library records (NYT login/pw): lisusethis/lisnews) from a Connecticut institution as part of an intelligence investigation, the American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday. This LISNews story has additional background."
Anonymous Patron points to a release from the ACLU today claiming that the FBI has used the Patriot Act to access library records:
FBI Uses Patriot Act to Demand Information with No Judicial Approval From Organization with Library Records
The American Civil Liberties Union today disclosed that the FBI has used a controversial Patriot Act power to demand records from an organization that possesses "a wide array of sensitive information about library patrons, including information about the reading materials borrowed by library patrons and about Internet usage by library patrons." The FBI demand was disclosed in a new lawsuit filed in Connecticut, which remains under a heavy FBI gag order.
Part of the problem with "secret" searches is that accusations
fly on both sides of the debate. Is the FBI really starting up some sort of Library Awareness Program, or is this an isolated case with the facts skewed? (Note that not even the ACLU is saying the FBI requested or obtained library records.)
stevenj writes "That's the title of an article in the latest issue of Rolling Stone that should be of interest to librarians. It provides an in depth look into Rep. Bernie Sanders efforts to introduce an amendment to the bill to reauthorize the Patriot Act in order to rollback the nefarious Section 215. The story tells how Sanders and his team are frustrated by opposition foes along the legislative path. Sanders pretty much sums up the way our Congress works when he is quoted saying "Nobody knows how this place is run. If they did, they'd go nuts."
stevenj writes "That's the title of an article in the latest issue of Rolling Stone that profiles Rep. Bernie Sander's effort to amend the bill to reauthorize the Patriot Act so that the nefarious Section 215 would be rolled back. It provide real insight into how the legislative process works, and emphasizes Sanders frustration with it as he sees his effort to rollback Section 215 disintegrate. As Sander's describes it, "Nobody knows how this place is run. If they did, they'd go nuts." Find it at:
Commentary from a fellow who is mightily confused about the status of the USA PATRIOT Act, particularly section 215 that pertains to libraries and bookstores.
Then, while browsing the liberal blogosphere a few days back, I read that no, there would not actually be a celebration, but a dirge . . . Section 215 is to be extended for 10 years. To say my tutu hung limp would be a gross understatement.
The rest from Eric Wennermark at PopMatters
An Anonymous Patron writes "I found the following posting at the BookCrossing website. It seems to be a person that is avoiding the library because of the fear of the Patriot Act. Could it be that over hyping the Patriot Act is actually huriting libraries because now the public has the perception that their records can be seized at anytime?"
[At the time of my posting this, the book crossing site was not working, but I thought the question posed here was interesting and hopefully we will be able to access the page soon. - AJK]
The Reader's Shop writes On Friday, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act. The House passed it's version earlier this month. The Senate bill would require the federal government to report how the provisions are used to view library and medical records. The ability to go to a secret court for permission to seize records from libraries and bookstores will renew for 4 years under the Senate bill. The house bill has a 10 year sunset for this provision.
The Senate and House bills must be reconciled before a final measure can be sent to Bush. Congressional officials said they were confident that they could work out a compromise.
More on the story can be found here