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Columnist John Bogert responds to fellow columnist Deroy Murdock, who thought the US Patriot Act, particularly the provision about libraries, be strengthened. Bogert interpreted Murdock's piece to say
You see, to protect ourselves we must first destroy all those things that we seek to protect.
Or as Calgacus said of the invading Romans on the eve of battle, "They make a desert and call it peace."
Articles all over the place this morning on the House of Representatives subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland hearings yesterday. Reuters has one, but The Washington Times has a much more exciting haedline: 9/11 hijackers used public libraries
"The computers in the library were used to review and order airline tickets on an Internet travel reservations site," Mr. Wainstein said. "The last documented visit to the library occurred on August 30, 2001. On that occasion, records indicate that a person using Alhazmi's account used the library's computer to review September 11 reservations that had been previously booked."
Deroy Murdock has a Column Over At NRO in which he says the Patriot Act should add libraries to the locations where federal investigators may hunt terrorists. He cites evidence of the 9/11 hijackers' fondness for libraries and calls those who oppose PATRIOT "dangerously naÃ¯ve or clandestinely seditious beyond and foolish"
"No square inch of this country should be a safe harbor where terrorists calmly can schedule the slaughter of defenseless civilians. Whether fueled by sincere civil libertarianism or malignant Bushophobia, those who thwart probes of Islamo-fascist library patrons have the same impact: They make it easier â€” not harder â€” for terrorists to kill you."
This is the provision of the Patriot Act that has been widely denounced for allowing investigators to obtain library records -- a provision so horrifying to the nation's librarians that the American Library Association launched a campaign against it. In repeated resolutions, the association blasted the Patriot Act as ''a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users." Many public libraries now make a point of warning their patrons that Big Brother may be looking over their shoulders. And the American Civil Liberties Union charges that Section 215 allows the FBI to ''spy on a person because they don't like the books she reads, or because they don't like the Web sites she visits."
All of which would be very disturbing, and reason enough to let Section 215 fall by the wayside, except for one thing: It's a crock."
gsandler writes " Here
is an editorial in the Sunday New York Times on Congress' hearings on
the Patriot Act. It includes a discussion of the provisions that affect
libraries. "If Congress becomes too bogged down in the minutiae of the Patriot Act in coming weeks,
it will be in danger of missing the larger picture. Revising the law should be the start, not the end, of its work."
There are a billion PATRIOT stories out there this week. A couple that caught my eye: U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl writes about Why the Patriot Act Must be Renewed at phxnews.com, and Five reasons why conservatives should fight the Patriot Act from The Detroit News. If any Others catch your eye, let us know.
Daniel points to Senator
Murkowki's press release of the co-sponored SAFE
bill to ammend the Patriot Act. Some of the SAFE Act (Security and
Freedom Enhancement Act of 2005) provisions she suggests including to revise
the Patriot Act are:
The Safe Act would restore a standard of individualized suspicion
before a Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) order for library
or other personal records can be obtained and would create procedural
protections to prevent abuses. As is required for grand jury subpoenas,
the SAFE act would give the recipient of a FISA order the right to
challenge the order, require a government showing that a gag order is necessary,
place a limit on the gag order and give the recipient the right to
challenge the gag order.
The SAFE Act would also require increased public reporting on the
use of FISA orders.
Similar to the rights and procedures for FISA orders, the SAFE Act
would set guidelines for the use of National Security Letter to obtain
personal records. The government would have to show reason that the
records sought relate to a suspected terrorist or spy.
Supporters of the Patriot Act have complained that critics of the legislation
can't point to any abuses of the Act. Declan McCullagh at CNET quotes Senator
Leahy as pointing out that:
""We have heard over and over again that there have been
no abuses as a result of the Patriot Act," Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat
from Vermont, said during a hearing Tuesday. "But it is difficult, if not
impossible, to verify that claim when some of the most controversial surveillance
powers in the Patriot Act operate under a cloak of secrecy.""
"Sec. 215: secret
court orders can be used to obtain records or "tangible items" from
any person or organization if the FBI claims a link to terrorism. The unlucky
recipient of the secret order is gagged; disclosing its existence is punished
by a prison term. Librarians are especially concerned. "
reported that according to FBI director Robert Mueller the reason law
enforcement officials haven't had to use the Patriot Act in accessing
library records is that ""we have had the cooperation of the libraries
to date,"" prompting the ALA's Washington office deputy director Patrice
McDermott to later respond, ""it's a core principle of our profession that
user records are confidential. If you're not free to read and research
and think, you don't have freedom of speech.""
The USA Patriot Act is Back In The News.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings yesterday on the law. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told senators the White House would accept limited changes to the Patriot Act, which is drawing increasing fire from a coalition of conservatives, civil libertarians, librarians, booksellers, and local and state governments.
CNET and Wired cover things from a techie point of view.
There are other articles at San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Post Intelligencer, and about A Million other places.
Anonymous Patron writes "The Associated Press Reports The Bush administration's two top law enforcement officials on Tuesday urged Congress to renew every provision of the anti-terror Patriot Act; a portion of which is due to expire in December. FBI Director Robert Mueller also asked lawmakers to expand the Bureau's ability to obtain records without first asking a judge.
On the same day Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was speaking to the Senate committee, Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., planned to reintroduce legislation designed to curb major parts of the Patriot Act that they say went too far."