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From The Guardian:
Public libraries have been contacted about 50 times by federal investigators as part of their anti-terrorism efforts, but the Justice Department won\'t say whether they looked through or took information from their records . . .
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has jousted repeatedly with the Justice Department over the new powers, said the department\'s 60-page response to lawmakers\' questions did not provide enough details about the library investigations, possible FBI scrutiny of mosque membership lists and other civil liberties issues.
Amid cheers Evanston City Council passed a resolution Monday night urging Congress to repeal the USA Patriot Act.
"We are opposed to terrorism," said Ald. Lionel Jean-Baptiste (2nd). "But we do not want to be terrorized."
Laurie writes "David of the Boston Globe writes: A national coalition of publishers, authors, librarians, and booksellers yesterday called on Congress to modify the part of the antiterrorist USA Patriot Act that allows the government to secretly inspect Americans' book-buying and -borrowing habits.
''Libraries are a cornerstone of intellectual freedom, the right to think and explore and read whatever you want to,'' said Krista McLeod, director of the Nevins Memorial Library in Metheun and president of the Massachusetts Library Association, which supports the change. ''The privacy associated with that freedom is key. . . .
"Hours after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, people rushed to libraries to read about the Taliban, Islam, Afghanistan and terrorism. Americans sought background materials to foster understanding and cope with this horrific event. They turned to a place with reliable answers -- to a trustworthy public space where they are free to inquire, and where their privacy is respected."
"Since 9-11, libraries remain more important than ever to ensuring the right of every individual to hold and express opinions and to seek and receive information, the essence of a thriving democracy. But just as the public is exercising its right to receive information and ideas -- a necessary aspect of free expression -- in order to understand the events of the day, government is threatening these very liberties, claiming it must do so in the name of national security." (from The Palestine Chronicle)
"I'm going to be very cautious about that legislation. Quite frankly, I'm not going to be for dramatic expansion of it, even knowing the environment of terrorism I know is now a threat to Americans. I think we need to move very cautiously. And I think we've had about enough expansion as we should have for a while."
By Bernie Sanders:
"An unnecessary chill has descended on the nation's libraries and bookstores: The books you buy and read are now subject to government inspection and review."
"After 9/11, the Bush administration, particularly Attorney General John Ashcroft, pushed hard for passage of the Patriot Act, which contained sweeping changes to our nation's surveillance laws and new intelligence powers for the FBI and other agencies."
"At that time of national outrage, Congress passed with little debate a bill the attorney general had crafted."
"Few who voted for the Patriot Act -- I did not -- knew that among its provisions was one that gave FBI agents the authority to engage in fishing expeditions to see what Americans read." (from The Times Union)
"I have expanded my pantheon of personal heroes. To a list that includes beat cops, Shriners and firefighters, add librarians. As we bring freedom to Iraqis, there's also a battle to preserve Americans' freedoms. Librarians are the unlikely front line soldiers in that war."
"Not that all tome tenders I've known have been defenders of liberty. I was editor of the Polk County Itemizer-Observer during a particularly contentious library levy campaign in Dallas, Ore., about 20 years ago. A certain woman was among the more outspoken in opposition to renovating the 1920s-era Carnegie building. The librarian at the time pulled me aside to ask in a conspiratorial whisper, "Do you know what kind of books she reads?" referring to the levy opponent. "Young adult fiction," he snickered, as if that were all one need know about her credibility."
"He showed no compunction about snooping in this patron's files, or sharing it with a reporter." (from The Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Timmy writes "thesunlink.com takes a look at the Patriot Act. They cover the usual problems that we all know about, but do not seem to be common knowledge. For people worried about being investigated, the good news is that Kitsap Regional Library and other local library systems such as Timberland, Seattle and Tacoma don't have long-term records of borrowing or records of Internet traffic. Neither do most local bookstores."
\"The American Library Association has signed up for battle in the War on Terrorism; unfortunately, it has signed up to fight the Bush Administration and the USA PATRIOT Act. Siding with civil libertarians against public safety is just the ALA’s most recent leftist act of political defiance. However, this is their most corrosive stance for the well-being of all Americans, undermining and sabotaging public efforts to stave off terrorism..\"
\"Part of the war on terror is learning how America’s enemies work. It was found that terrorists like to use computer terminals in our libraries to communicate and do research. Soon after the attack on September 11, 2001, the Houston Chronicle reported, \"Visitors and library employees in Delray Beach and Hollywood remember seeing some of the men who are suspected of carrying out the attacks.\" As a result, \"FBI agents have subpoenaed library records in south Florida as they attempted to piece together where the suspects went and whom they communicated with in the months leading up [to] the assaults on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.\" (from Front Page Magazine via Utah and National Public Library News)
From the Los Angeles Times via Common Dreams:
Few who voted for the Patriot Act -- I did not -- knew that among its provisions was one that gave FBI agents the authority to engage in fishing expeditions to see what Americans read. Although it does not mention bookstores or libraries specifically, the sweeping legislation gives the FBI the power to seize all of the circulation, purchasing and other records of library users and bookstore customers on no stronger a claim than an FBI official's statement that they are part of a terrorism investigation. Surely the powers the government needs to fight terrorism can be subject to more meaningful checks and balances than that, especially when the right to read without government intrusion is at stake.