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Seemingly acceptable though he may be to Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress, President Bush's new appointee for the position of Attorney General, Michael B. Mukasey, is a strong supporter of the Patriot Act. The International Herald Tribune reported that Mukasey said in a speech in 2004, "That awkward name may very well be the worst thing about the statute."
More cautiously, The Capitol Times of Madison, WI reports "For instance, in a May 10, 2004, op-ed, which was published as the debate about fixing fundamental flaws in the Patriot Act was heating up, Mukasey defended some of the act's most extreme excesses and dismissively told critics to avoid what he termed "reflexive" or "recreational" criticisms of it." The paper calls the candidate "something less than a rule-of-law man when it comes to constitutional matters. As a contributor to the right-wing editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, the retired judge has written several articles that suggest he would have trouble balancing civil liberties and national security concerns."
The Wall Street Journal, endorses Mukasey thusly "Earth to Washington: You finally have the right man for the right job at the right time. Try not to screw this one up." New York Times reports on Mukasey's close connection to Republican Presidential Candidate Rudy Guiliani and others in the New York legal community.
Here's today's NY Times editorial on the nominee, which refers to statements Mukasey made in 2004 denouncing the "hysteria" of Patriot Act critics, and lashing out at the American Library Association for trying to protect patrons' privacy..
More on the Patriot Act ruling by Judge Marrero.
Yes, there is a stay, according to Information Today (thank you mdoneil for pointing this out). The article elaborates: "The court could not identify a solution to these concerns within the PATRIOT Act and enjoined the entire NSL provisions from being enforced. However, recognizing the "implications of the ruling and the importance of the issues involved," the court agreed to stay its ruling pending appeal.
There has not been an appeal as yet. As the ruling was handed down in New York State, the appeal will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. From last week's article: "Judge Marrero delayed enforcing the decision pending an appeal by the government. Rebekah Carmichael, a spokeswoman for the United States attorney's office in Manhattan, said the government has not decided whether it will file one."
The court also offered some suggestions as to how the Act may be modified to pass constitutional muster. These include allowing a temporary NSL nondisclosure order, provided that the FBI either notify the NSL recipient when they can disclose information about the NSL or justify to a court the continuing need for secrecy. The NSL recipient must also be allowed to petition a court to allow disclosure or challenge the NSL.
It would be up to Congress to implement these suggestions, or an appellate court to overrule Judge Marrero's opinion. While the status quo remains pending on one or the other of these actions, at least for now, the PATRIOT Act's NSL provisions are in jeopardy.
ps - if you haven't voted in the poll as yet, please do so...
A federal judge today struck down parts of the new U.S.A. Patriot Act that authorized the Federal Bureau of Investigation to acquire corporate records using informal secret demands called national security letters.
The law allowed the F.B.I. to force communications companies, including telephone and Internet providers, to turn over their customers records without court authorization and permanently to forbid the companies from discussing what they had done. Under the law, enacted last year, the ability of the courts to review challenges to the ban on disclosures was quite limited.
Today's New York Times reports: Judge Marrero wrote that he feared the law could be the first step in a series of intrusions into the role of the judiciary that would be the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values.
According to a report from the Justice Department's inspector general in March, the F.B.I. issued about 143,000 requests (big number there)through national security letters from 2003 to 2005. The report found that the bureau had often used the letters improperly and sometimes illegally, case in point, the letters served to Connecticut's Library Connection.
Jim Heckel, director of the Great Falls Public Library, Says Libraries have become the symbolic canaries in the mine shaft since the passage of the overly zealous USA Patriot Act, enacted shortly after 9/11 and contentiously renewed early this year.
What does terrorism have to do with your local public library? That is, as they say, an interesting question.
Kelly writes "This article, "Careful: The FB-eye may be watching: Reading the wrong thing in public can get you in trouble," is about the adventures of a bookstore employee who was seen reading something thought to be unacceptable, terroristic, wrong — it's not clear — at a coffeeshop, and because of his reading, he was paid a visit by two FBI agents. Here's a link to the tale: http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/Conten t?oid=oid%3A12715&status=rate&ratebtn=5 Here's a link to the article the FBI was investigating him for reading: http://tampa.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/Content? oid=oid%3A2752"
madcow writes ""Our presence in the courtroom was declared a threat to national security," Chase said. Chase, one of two librarians from Plainville CT's Library Connection received an NSL to turn over computer records in their library on July 13, 2005"
In her new book (Library Journal interview here), Chicago writer Sara Paretsky (author of the V.I. Warshawski mysteries) who spoke at Authors! Authors! four years ago says she was asked in advance by the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library to rein in her political remarks on the night the United States invaded Iraq.
Library officials vehemently deny the charge, which seems now to boil down to a difference in what each party recalls.
Clyde Scoles, library director, said the library has never censored writers who appear at Authors! Authors!
As reported in yesterday's LISNews, George Christian, the executive director of the Library Connection and one of the four "John Doe" librarians in Connecticut who successfully challenged an FBI national security letter last year, called on Congress to reconsider the USA Patriot Act and restore reader privacy safeguards and other civil liberties damaged by the Act. Here's the complete text of Christian's testimony.
One From The AP: A librarian who fended off an FBI demand for computer records on patrons said Wednesday that secret anti-terrorism investigations strip away personal freedoms.
"Terrorists win when the fear of them induces us to destroy the rights that make us free," said George Christian, executive director of Library Connection, a consortium of 27 libraries in the Hartford, Conn., area.
Joe Hodnicki writes "Two recent books that will benefit from the national security letters revelations and two more that also should benefit are identified. Read more about it at http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/law_librarian_blo g/2007/03/book_sales_and_.html"