Patriot Act

Patriot Act

Atty. General Appointee Mukasey Strong Supporter of Patriot Act, anti-ALA

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 Marrero Ruling on the Patriot Act

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...

Judge Strikes Down Parts of Patriot Act, National Security Letters

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.

Patriot Act has placed librarians in tough position

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.


When Reading is a Threat Worthy of FBI Attention

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: t?oid=oid%3A12715&status=rate&ratebtn=5

Here's a link to the article the FBI was investigating him for reading: oid=oid%3A2752"


Librarians under the Patriot Act: not fun.

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"

Read more from Wired...."


Author Paretsky Recalls That Toledo Library Told Her to Tone Down Talk

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!

"I find the whole thing very interesting and kind of sad," said Mr. Scoles, adding that he and his staff were "totally floored" to read Paretsky's essay in the Tribune. Report from Toledo Blade.

The Library Connection Speaks Out Before Congress

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.


Librarian Who Resisted FBI Says Patriot Act Invades Privacy

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.


Slam Dunks! Book Sales and NSL Revelations

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 g/2007/03/book_sales_and_.html"


FBI admits to screwing around with USA PATRIOT ACT

mdoneil writes "The FBI has been playing fast and loose with the powers given it under the USA Patriot Act. The AG Gonzalez said that he may possibly prefer charges against FBI lawyers or agents accused of violating the law. Well that certainly is reassuring.

The FBI flouts the law, the city manager of the next city over is having a sex change, and the priest from my high school is getting married to his second wife. I'm going to a bar."


Like digital wildfire

Here's A Short Article from the Missoula Independent on that goofy blog thing that happened a couple weeks back. When Absarokee-based Episcopal priest Jane Ellen Schmoetzer recounted a conversation she had with a small-town librarian on her blog,, on Jan. 9, she had no idea the post would trigger a long-distance game of "Telephone" that would change the way she approaches her four-year-old blogging habit.

In her post, "Libraries are dangerous places," Schmoetzer recounts a conversation she had that morning with Larrie Hayden, director of Joliet's tiny public library. According to the post (since removed), Larrie told Schmoetzer that she had submitted a book request to a Billings library for copies of The Last Jihad and The Ezekial Option by novelist Joel C. Rosenberg, which she received along with a letter informing her that the order had earned her a spot on a government "watch list," and that she would have to "appear in person in Billings" before she would be able to order any more books.

FBI Drops Patriot Act Demand in ISP Case

From Bookselling This Week...

After more than two years in a legal battle with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), on November 22, the FBI announced that it had abandoned a Patriot Act demand for the subscriber records of a small Internet Service Provider. The ACLU welcomed the decision but criticized the FBI for refusing to lift a gag order that prevents the provider from disclosing its identity.

The national security letter provision of the Patriot Act allows the government to demand, without court approval, records of people who are not suspected of any wrongdoing. Anyone who receives such a demand is prohibited from disclosing even the mere existence of the request. More information about national security letters is available at ACLU - National Security Letter .


Princeton Library says it hasn't received Patriot Act requests

You might think something not happening somewhere isn't news, but you'd be wrong. Princeton University Library officials said this week that they have received no requests for student or faculty library records under the USA PATRIOT Act in the five years since Congress passed the controversial law. But Library policy protects the identity of its patrons by deleting records of loans as soon as those books are returned.

There were also no Sasquatch sightings reported in the library.


Patriot Act fears prompt Canadian universities to patriate computers

The CBC Reports Dozens of Canadian university and college libraries are changing how they arrange for their students and faculty to do online research, in part because of a U.S. law intended to detect possible terrorist activity.

"It's an issue of privacy; [that's] what it comes down to," said Karen Lippold, a librarian at Memorial University in St. John's.

Conceivably, the searches of a student or faculty member doing work on a sensitive issue could be flagged and then stored in the U.S.


ACLU Withdraws Patriot Act Lawsuit

Citing changes in the 2001 law made earlier this year, the ACLU has decided to drop its lawsuit related to section 215 of the Patriot Act. This section, the ACLU claims, presents serious constitutional problems in light of its supposed restrictions on free speech. The ACLU will continue to litigate other sections of the Patriot Act.

A Kinder, Gentler Ashcroft

NPR ran a poignant interview with former US Attorney General John Ashcroft a few days ago. Revelations include his hospital-bed rejection of a White House request to push through NSA's warrantless surveillance program, and reflections on his "biggest failure," regarding the USA PATRIOT Act, to "explain it well to the American people." Although he admits he is "almost as mean as I ever was," he draws several historical parallels to recent security measures and comes across as somewhat less... hysterical... than he did during his tenure in the Bush administration.


US Responds to LibraryConnection/Chase Demagoguery

Anonymous Patron writes "From U.S. Attorney's Office, New Haven to the Hartford Courant comes a response to "several press reports and editorials" in a
recent media blitz by Connecticut's Library Connection consortium."

Snooping on Library Records Popular: Dick Morris

Kelly writes "Here, from News Hound , (a site that monitors Fox News..."We watch FOX so you don't have to")...Dick Morris, Fox newsman and former President Clinton advisor/now detractor reports 'Democrats Have To Understand That Snooping Through Library Records Is Popular.'

Library Connection Executive Regrets Abandonment

Anonymous Patron writes "More details surfaced about the Library Connection-ACLU National Security Letter lawsuit in a Hartford Courant article. Library Connection executive director George Christian regrets only that the government abandoned the case. "We didn't get the courts to make a definitive ruling on this..." The consortium director expressed strong support for the confidentiality of library records."



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