Judith Krug's Extreme Falsehoods Corrected
Perhaps some or most of the members of the ALA's IRC Committee are unaware of the falsehoods which Judith Krug and Don Wood have tried to slip by them, most recently in their recent astonishing comments at the ALA Midwinter Meeting, where the chief watchdog (NOT) for our liberties, said she was going to dig her heels in.
Great: Books are burned, whole library collections are destroyed, innocent librarians are tossed into the Cuban Gulag, Martin Luther King is trashed as an anti-communist, son-of-a-dissident, black-ass upstart bitch, and Mrs. Krug is more concerned about her petty fights with Bob Kent, and covering up for the obvious ideological bias of Don Wood, who deletes all dissident posts from his ALA blog, just like Castro tries to delete dissent in Cuba. That is my editorial on this remarkable situation, all DOCUMENTED below, in words less "scurrilous" than mine...
Any member of the IFC, or the IFC for that matter, who can point out the factual errors in this analysis is welcome to post those comments here or send them to me. WE won't delete your viewpoint, like the head piglets over at the ALA's OIF Animal Farm do. (For the RECORD: note my sarcastic designation of head piglets--- it is NOT the ALA Council, nor current or past Presidents, it is specifically the elites who run the show at the Office of Intellectual Fiction.)
From: Steve Marquardt
Date: Feb 12, 2007 9:22 PM
Subject: Cuba discussion in ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee
To: Barbara Jones
Members of the ALA IFC and IFRT,
The recent blog report of the meeting of the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee contained statements that indicate a astonishing grasping for any excuse available to avoid facing the truth of book burning in Cuba. I have pasted below the blog notes of the recent Midwinter meetings in Seattle by Greg McClay, posted at http://www.shuch.ws/wordpress/, and I have added my own comments of explanation and rejoinder. There will be one or two follow-up e-mails containing attachments relative to some of the points made below. I welcome any responses. -- Steve Marquardt9383 123rd Avenue SELake Lillian, MN 56253-4700(320) 664-4231Amnesty International USA Legislative Coordinator for Minnesota(Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Amnesty International.)
The Notebook blog comments of January 2007 at the ALA MidWinter meetings of the Intellectual Freedom Committee, in Seattlehttp://www.shush.ws/wordpress/
BLOG: Day 2 PrologueJanuary 21st, 2007â€¦ quote of the day goes to Judith Krug [Director of ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom]: I've dug in my heelsâ€¦ I refuse to be governed by people with an agenda!
COMMENT: I thought the Office for Intellectual Freedom agenda was also our "pro-independent librarians" agenda â€“ defending intellectual freedom and the freedom to read, and opposing book burning.
BLOG: Heh. The Intellectual Freedom Committee was a hoot.D2 IFC I con't â€“ CubaJanuary 22nd, 2007BLOG: (Don't roll your eyes, just read.) Less than half way through the meeting we had two guests, John Berry (the former ALA President one, not the LJ one or the Native American one) and (I believe) Michael Dowling, Director of the International Relations Committee ( http://www.ala.org/ala/iro/internationalrelations.htm). Krug announced that "Cuba wouldn't die", despite her inclination to "drown it".
COMMENT: Was this a Freudian slip or a conscious and considered choice of word? "Drown" is indeed the fate of tens of thousands of Cuban rafters, of whom certainly half and perhaps and many as 75% have failed to survive at sea long enough to be rescued, this is an appalling choice of word. Fidel Castro in 1994 said that since 1989, "51,076 Cubans tried to leave and 13,275 made it." ( U.S. New and World Report, September 26, 1994, page 26). Many were intercepted and others interred and returned by the US Coast Guard, but the estimates of those drowned since 1959 vary widely, from 16,000 to 100,000. For the Director of ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom to choose this word to respond to the support by ALA members for the freedom to read initiative in Cuba is most regrettable.
BLOG: But staff at the Office of Intellectual Freedom was "taking a beating on this" and she wanted to make sure the committee was informed of what was going on. [John W.] Berry talked a little about IFLA (ALA=USA, IFLA=UN) and its group FAIFE [Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression] (the international equivalent of the Intellectual Freedom Committee). Dowling gave some background on IFLA and FAIFE expressing 'deep concern' over the jailed librarians in Cuba.
COMMENT: The demands from Amnesty International, International PEN, Human Rights Watch and others seeking release of the prisoners have been reiterated several times since their first publication, usually on the anniversary of the trials. In contrast, ALA's expression of "deep concern" has not been the subject of a report or press release since its adoption in Council on January 14, 2004. Is this "deep concern" or Deep Six? You decide.
BLOG: Both gave a fairly detailed account of the Cuba situation with the jailed librarians and certain parties involved with it, specifically Robert Kent ( http://www.friendsofcubanlibraries.org/ ). What seems to give them the most pause is the fact that the US gov't has provided a number of grants to Cubans to assist in regime change and that 8 of those grants, totaling $2 million dollars, were given to support the independent librarian movement.
COMMENT: This is true. The USA also provided legal assistance to human rights defenders during the Argentine "Dirty War," employed sanctions against apartheid in South Africa, joined the AFL-CIO is support of the Solidarity labor movement in Poland, and pressured the USSR on human rights through the vehicle of the Helsinki Accords.
BLOG: They are also highly suspicious of Kent's income, his lack of interest in moving up the ladder at his place of work,
COMMENT: Of the seven people I consider most vocal in opposition to the freedom to read in Cuba, only one has "moved up the ladder" to become a library director, or even an assistant director. As for Bob Kent, he joined Amnesty International in 1983 and has contributed much time to human rights work through his local AIUSA Group. Many times during my 24 years as a library director I thought it would be more fulfilling to be a cataloger or acquisitions librarian once again and thus have more time for human rights and less for time for reports, meetings, proposals, budget reviews, more meetings, performance evaluations and other such stuff.
BLOG: â€¦ and his ability to travel to all the IFLA conventions around the world and apparently are trying to find a money trail that leads from our government to Kent's wallet.
COMMENT: If Bob Kent were a government agent, he would have been provided with much more effective training in diplomacy and tact. See also the ALA International Relations Committee action on January 24, 2007, at the conclusion of this report.
BLOG: Back to the librarians in jail, Berry said they took unnecessary risks in accepting the funds and that even other Cuban dissidents had warned them against doing so.
COMMENT: What funds? Sentencing documents from the Cuban courts posted at the "Rule of Law and Cuba" web site of Florida State University contain no documentation of direct cash receipts by the arrested persons from the US Interests Section in Havana. The sentencing documents allege receipt of funds from points in North America from a variety of sources and by a variety of means. Some independent minded people were paid for news articles, just as are freelance journalists in the USA. Whether other remittances are from friends, colleagues, co-conspirators or family members remains uncertain. See the following e-mail, "Cuba: funds received bu dissidents arrested in March 2003."
BLOG: (Side note: during the conversation Krug gave some her own background in dealing with international issues. Prior to FAIFE's existence back in the 70's she was involved in ALA's handling of an issue concerning a Raisa Polatnik (sp?) who was arrested in Russia by the KGB for having some type of book collection. This led to Krug's convincing IFLA to create FAIFE and thereby fluff off international issues like this to them. Bleg: more info on the Polatnik issue would be appreciated.)
COMMENT: I've not been able to track down this person or story.
BLOG: The reason this whole discussion took place is because it has been learned that materials confiscated by Cuba from the independent librarians were destroyed, possibly burned. Book burning. And it has been requested that this info be posted on ALA's book burning page (multiple posts on the issue at Freadom's blog, http://4freadom.blogspot.com/. Krug refuses to do it at this point (see quote of the day). Why? In part the players involved.
COMMENT: Two of the three most prominent players â€“ Bob Kent and me â€“ have a total of 49 years' volunteer leadership service to Amnesty International. Clearly players not to be trusted?
BLOG: Also in part the documents that say the books were destroyed came from a website funded by one of those grants up above. Berry: "You never entirely know who's being truthful."
COMMENT: My first thought here, as a recently retired land grant university library director, was the fear of misinformation that may be rife in the grant-supported Agricultural Extension and Experiment Station bulletins. Then I thought of the disinformation that has crept into any and all federally funded research. But the potential for corrupted information is greatest in those libraries participating in the FCLP â€“ the Federal Depository Library Program. Just think about it!
BLOG: Without an "impartial" source stating it, they won't go up. Irony being that in a communist country there are no impartial sources to provide such information.
COMMENT: Amnesty International, a Nobel Peace Prize winning organization known for its nonpartisan independence, has accepted the Cuban court sentencing documents as valid, citing them 73 times in its June 2003 report on the crackdown in Cuba. The court documents contain an order to destroy a biography of the Nobel Peace Prize winning civil rights hero, Martin Luther King Jr. Online publication of the documents on the Florida State University web site was reported in at least two Florida newspapers and an Associated Press release in September 2004. Yet ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom continues to demand a "legitimate" newspaper article specifically about the book burning as its price of recognizing this crime against the freedom to read. If Amnesty were a newspaper and published an extended 3000 word article on this subject, OIF ould be satisfied. Instead, Amnesty in 2003 published a 31,500 word report bolstered by 237 footnotes ( http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR250172003?open&of=ENG-CUB) and the ALA OIF refuses to accept this as "legitimate" validation of the court documents and the orders contained therein!
BLOG: During discussion the idea about the confiscated books being burned was played down. Berry said that other items like faxes and copiers were also destroyed, according to the documents, so it wasn't really book burning as we think of it.
COMMENT: Not true â€“ books were destroyed but hardware was given to various government agencies. A spreadsheet documenting follows in my next e-mail, subject line "Cuba: books burned, hardware to government agencies." HAS ANYONE BESIDES ME READ THE SENTENCING DOCUMENTS, much less ANALYZED THEM? Two librarians on the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee â€“ Bowie Kotrla and Lara Rudolph â€“ work at the FSU libraries. Have they ever given them a look, or crossed campus to check out the history and validity of the documents?
BLOG: Someone else actually said the US does the same thing with some confiscated materials from raids and that we must have burnt books as well. Of course I would think how the destruction is seen might be influenced by what the person was arrested for, but that's just me.
COMMENT: Is there any documentation of US authorities destroying books because of subversive content? Have US authorities raided any US libraries and seized and destroyed their contents? Where is this documentation? Remember, a major newspaper report will be required by the ALA OIF.
BLOG: Don Wood also spoke up to play down the book burning website, saying it was really only a site for high school students to get research material from. Its not meant to be comprehensive.
COMMENT: It's comprehensive regarding Harry Potter, a fictional person who merits five (5) book burning entries. As regards posting the destruction of a Nobel Peace Prize winner's biography, well, editorial judgment is being exercised. Even during the current Black History Month, the score is Potter 5, King 0.
BLOG: Krug was extremely perturbed by the end, referring to Kent's "tactics" as "beyond the pale". (Kent wasn't the only person mentioned, two other non-ALA members were discussed but I didn't catch the names she gave and didn't want to make assumptions) She was tempted to say something else but kept it in check. Happily, near the end of the conversation a couple people in the room did tell their personal stories. One had actually visited Cuba and been told by an elderly gentleman that when he and his diabetic wife spoke up against Castro her medicine stopped coming and she died. (The dangers of Universal Healthcare?) Another had gone to China and, in response to Berry's discussion about his own visits to the official Cuban libraries, talked about how the Chinese libraries looked good at first but once you spent some time looking they were very superficial. Another member discussed how easy it is to find similar library issues in other countries. Summation: Obviously there's a lot of confusion on the Cuba issue, but then that's usually what people say when they don't want to deal with it. Cuba gets special attention because it's a communist country that's a stone's throw from Florida. People are literally dying to try and get here from there. For all the focus that was once on Elian Gonzalez let's try not to forget that his mother died in an effort to get him here. That's not what normal people do unless they're in a very extreme environment that they have to get out of. That should make us take note. Do gov't monies blur the issue and make everything suspect? I'm not sure that's true but it's the kind of thing that gives most people pause. In general we like everything to be above board. Espionage is for dime store novels. Do I think less of Robert Kent? No, but hopefully he'll respond to some of this. What about Krug? Well, let's put it this way. Her and Berry were very agitated about the pro-independent librarian side using each other as sources, sort of looping back into one another and creating a false sense of legitimacy.
COMMENT: The number of sources cited in this and the following e-mail message's attachment are as follows: "pro-independent librarians" = 2; other sources = 10. Speaking for myself â€“ a Ph.D. in History addicted to footnotes and a former Copyright Office steeped in proper attribution â€“ I always try to provide citations for the facts, because the facts are on the side of human rights and intellectual freedom. Let's stick to the facts.
BLOG: Krug refuses to deal with international issues because they don't fall under the 1st amendment.
COMMENT: The OIF has "issues" with international book burning, as shown on its "Book Burning in the 21st Century" web site, where you may find news of book burning in Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Republic of Georgia. This accords with ALA Policy 53.1.12: "The American Library Association believes that freedom of expression is an inalienable human right, necessary to self-government, vital to the resistance of oppression, and crucial to the cause of justice, and further, that the principles of freedom of expression should be applied by libraries and librarians throughout the world. Adopted 1989." [Emphasis added by S.M.]
BLOG: She encouraged IFLA to create FAIFE in order for them to deal with issues that we would see as anti-human rights. However IFLA is made up of countries from all over the world, many of whom have little interest in the ideals we hold dear (they haven't done much on the Cuba issue either, or issues like it). Krug has created her own moral loop, saying she doesn't have to deal with international free speech issues because there is FAIFE even though FAIFE is made up of countries that aren't really interested in international free speech issues. Its exactly like Democrats and the UN. Maybe she's naÃ¯ve, but the fact she seems to reserve her anger for those opposed to dictatorships instead of dictators makes me think less than kind things about her.
COMMENT: Maybe it's a fondness for historic preservation â€“ preservation of the last of the military dictatorships that once dotted the Latin American landscape and the Caribbean seascape. Only one of this species remains and it is endangered by the freedom to read movement.
BLOG: In any case, the damage is done. IFC and Cuba don't mix. The International Relations Committee should be pressured and ALA should stop relying on IFLA and starting speaking out on all the most egregious acts against libraries and librarians around the world, simply, directly.
COMMENT: As long as IFC maintains a web page reporting on book burnings worldwide, there will be continuing appropriate and "legitimate" requests to post the destruction of six entire independent library collections on that web page.
BLOG: D6 ACIII con't International Relations Committee CD #18 January 24th, 2007 +a follow-up item on the Cuba issue, CD#18 specifically mentions the US Gov't Accountability report that discusses the 8 grantees supporting the independent librarians in Cuba. CD#18 specifically says that the International Relations Comm will be submitting a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain information about those grantees: "who they are, how much funds were received, what were the grants for, and reports on their activities."
COMMENT: This initiative is welcomed. It was suggested in July 2006 by one of the persons working for the release of prisoners and the posting of the book burning news. The following web site shows the National Endowment for Democracy initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean: http://www.ned.org/grants/05programs/grants-lac05.html#Cuba, Foreign Assistance: U.S. Democracy Assistance for Cuba Needs Better Management and Oversight. "Highlights" document: http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d07147high.pdf. Entire report: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07147.pdf. Report Abstract: [ http://www.gao.gov/docdblite/summary.php?rptno=GAO-07-147&accno=A63388]. As the search for the money trail to Bob Kent's wallet begins in earnest, I urge persons on the IFC and the IRC to search also through the sentencing documents at http://www.ruleoflawandcuba.fsu.edu/, in order to avoid further incorrect statements about the dissidents and the reasons for their imprisonment.
COMMENTs by Steve Marquardt.