Patriot Act

Patriot Act

Man Arrested for Photographing Cops

We've covered the idea of inverse surveillance previously. By "watching the watchers," a la George Holliday, it keeps their behavior in check. The ferocity with which some law enforcement personnel -- right up to the top -- have opposed such oversight seems to far outweigh any realistic concerns over security.

Maybe they know that they too can "have something to hide."

Since 9/11, there has also been a steady stream of incidents involving overzealous security guards and police officers hassling people exercising their rights by taking pictures of public places.

Combine these trends and you get last week's story from Philadelphia, where a man was cuffed and jailed allegedly after doing nothing more than taking a picture of another bust with his cell phone.

So what does this have to do with libraries? Well, there's a lot of chatter about how Library 2.0 could take off more if we would just lighten up about that
pesky privacy tenet of our profession. But before we run out and start storing and sharing patron data without proper safeguards and policies, we should be prepared for others abusing the power that this gives them.

RFID Passports Coming

Search Engines Web sent in a link to a CNN story about upcoming changes to US passports:

Imagine being overseas and your identity being available for the taking - your nationality, your name, your passport number. Everything. That's the fear of privacy and security specialists now that the State Department plans to issue "e-Passports" to American travelers beginning in late August.

The Department of State has a FAQ page up as well.

Prosecutors Drop Request for CT Library Records

Federal authorities have dropped their demand for library patrons' records after a judge lifted an earlier gag order on the Library Connection of CT. "First the government abandoned the gag order that would have silenced four librarians for the rest of their lives, and now they've abandoned their demand for library records entirely," said Ann Beeson, associate legal director of the ACLU. "While the government's real motives in this case have been questionable from the beginning, their decision to back down is a victory not just for librarians but for all Americans who value their privacy."

An interesting artifact is this National Security Letter from the F.B.I., just revealed today by The Raw Story.


Silence Is Broken in Librarians' Records Case

New York Times article Four Connecticut librarians who had been barred from revealing that they had received a request for patrons' records from the federal government spoke out yesterday, expressing frustration about the sweeping powers given to law enforcement authorities by the USA Patriot Act.

For the local angle on this story, see article and video available from the Hartford (CT)Courant, and more information on Connecticut's Library Connection here.


Appeals Court Paves Way for Gagged Librarians to Speak Publicly for the First Time

The ACLU Says A federal appeals court ruled yesterday on two constitutional challenges filed by the ACLU to the Patriot Act's National Security Letter (NSL) provision, saying in one of the cases that a district court should consider the constitutionality of the provision in light of recent amendments made by Congress.

"Two separate lower courts found the Patriot Act"s National Security Letter provision to be undemocratic and unconstitutional," said Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU attorney who argued the New York case before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. "We believe that recent amendments to the law make the provision worse, not better, and we are confident the district court will agree."

National Security Letters issued 9,254 times

Rich writes "Zdnet reports that the FBI's use of a Patriot Act provision that lets it make secret requests for subscriber information from Internet service providers drew scrutiny from U.s. Senators on Tuesday.

"On Friday, the Justice Department reported to Congress that it had made 9.254 such requests pertaining to 3,501 "U.S. persons in 2005. according to a copy of the agency's letter posted on the Federation of American Scientists web site."

"Sen Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat who has been one of the most vocal critics of the Patriot Act, said
Tuesday that the number was far, far larger than the number of requests made under Section 215 of the Patriot Act." "I fear the reason might be that in Section 215 they have to go before a judge, and with National Security Letters, they don't, he said."

FBI and Anderson Papers - Deeply Disturbing

kmccook writes "The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

George Washington U. to Receive Jack Anderson's Papers -- but FBI Wants to See Them First.

During his life and career as a muckraking journalist in Washington, Jack Anderson cultivated secret sources throughout the halls of government -- sources who passed on information that allowed Anderson to investigate and write about Watergate, CIA assassination schemes, and countless scandals. His syndicated column, Washington Merry-Go-Round, earned him the enmity of the corrupt and powerful -- so much so that during the Watergate years, associates of Nixon had discussed assassinating the columnist. They never went through with the plot. Anderson died last December at the age of 83.

His archive, some 200 boxes now being held by George Washington University's library, could be a trove of information about state secrets, dirty dealings, political maneuverings, and old-fashioned investigative journalism, open for historians and up-and-coming reporters to see.

But the government wants to see the documents before anyone else.

The FBI's interest in the Anderson archive is "deeply disturbing and deeply in conflict with the academy's interests in freedom of inquiry, research, and scholarship," said Duane E. Webster, the executive director of the Association of Research Libraries.

Jack Siggins, the university librarian, says the FBI's interest in the archive is 'an example of the pressure that libraries are under to change their fundamental philosophy -- which is, to provide the information to the people in order to let the people understand what is going on in their government.'""

Libraries Win Against Secrecy But Don't Comment

Federal prosecutors have given the Library Connection, a cooperative of 26 libraries that share an automated system, permission to identify themselves as the recipients of the secret subpoena, known as a national security letter, which ordered them to turn over patron records and e-mail messages according to today's New York Times article Librarians Win as U.S. Relents on Secrecy Law

But in the article they state that George Christian, the executive director of Library Connection, "has answered 'no comment' when asked about the case by reporters" and he "did not respond to several messages seeking comment last night."

I am outraged that the consortium leader wouldn't immediately champion the victory.


Prosecutors drop appeal in Patriot Act librarian case

The AP Reports: Federal prosecutors said Wednesday they will no longer seek to enforce a gag order on Connecticut librarians who received an FBI demand for records about library patrons under the Patriot Act.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought a lawsuit on behalf of the librarians, said it will identify them once court proceedings are completed in the next few weeks.

U.S. District Judge Janet Hall ruled last year that the gag order should be lifted, because it unfairly prevented the librarians from participating in a debate over how the Patriot Act should be rewritten.


Campaign for Reader Privacy Condemns President Bush

On March 30, the sponsors of the Campaign for Reader Privacy (CRP) -- the American Booksellers Association, the American Library Association, the Association of American Publishers, and PEN American Center -- released a statement accusing President Bush of "undermining a new law that expands Congressional oversight of the USA Patriot Act, including the provision that authorizes searches of bookstore and library records."

In a "signing statement" issued on March 9, soon after he approved a bill that reauthorized the expiring sections of the Patriot Act, the President said he reserved the right to ignore provisions of the bill. CRP sponsors condemned the signing statement. More from the American Booksellers Association (Bookweb).

Cstout writes: "In my efforts to find instances of direct cooperation between the American Library Association (ALA) and the American Civil Liberties Association (ACLU) I discovered A joint project of the California Library Association and the ACLU of Southern California, the website is an excellent resource for libraries nationwide to take action against the USA PATRIOT Act.

"The groups, 'believe that these new powers violate the basic tenets of intellectual freedom, that library users should have the right to read free of surveillance, and that a high wall of privacy should be re-established around an individual's private library records.'

"Included on the site are links to articles about the impact of the PATRIOT Act on library privacy, resolutions against the act and a 'Take Action' section that calls for support of amending the Act to protect library use privacy. This is an excellent resource for us in the librarian profession concerned about the privacy and protection of our patrons.

"No one has ever proven that terrorists used library materials or equipment in support of their activities. What has been proven though, is that the Bush administration has no problem secretly spying on American Citizens. The PATRIOT Act just makes it easier. Let's help the ACLU in their efforts to protect our freedom."

UVM librarian fights USA Patriot Act

From the Burlington Free Press:

"In fall 2001, before the ink had dried on the nation's new anti-terrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act, University of Vermont librarian Trina Magi was analyzing how the federal measure would affect the civil liberties of library patrons. The news, Magi concluded, was not good."


Still John Doe: Connecticut Librarian Receives Intellectual Freedom Prize In Absentia

Kelly writes: "This is from a NYT article [registration required] today entitled, 'Librarian Is Still John Doe, Despite Patriot Act Revision'"

The hotel ballroom was packed as a sensibly dressed, well-read crowd from around the country gathered in San Antonio on Jan. 21 to celebrate one of their own. Yet, as many expected, the guest of honor was a no-show, despite the $500 intellectual freedom prize that awaited. Attendees at an American Library Association gathering blamed Washington for the empty chair. Lawmakers may be giving themselves credit for having improved safeguards on civil liberties when they reauthorized the nation's antiterrorism law, otherwise known as the USA Patriot Act, earlier this month. But many librarians and civil liberties lawyers say the revisions did nothing to enable the guest of honor to take the stage and discuss the Patriot Act without risk of prosecution. Known as John Doe in court filings, the guest of honor was the Connecticut librarian who was visited by the Federal Bureau of Investigation last year and presented with what is known as a national security letter demanding patron records.

President nullifies new USAPA report requirements

Daniel writes "Just put this one on

"Today, the Government Printing office announced the availability of H.R. 3199 (USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005) through GPO Access. Also available through GPO Access was President Bush's "Statement on Signing" this piece of legislation, as reported by the March 13, 2006 issue of Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. Taken together, the new law and the President's signing statement paint a disturbing yet familar picture -- The President clearly intends to ignore language in the PATRIOT Act reauthorization intended to keep Congress informed of the Administration's use of the Act.""


RI Libraries concerned about Big Brother watching

Newport Daily News (Newport,RI) Has A Report on PATRIOT. Area librarians report no government attempts to access local patrons' records, a power provided by the USA Patriot Act.

But if they had received any FBI inquiries or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants, the librarians couldn't tell anyone, anyway.

Secrecy surrounds any surveillance the government undertakes in the name of national security. If the FBI serves a local librarian with a national security letter, basically a subpoena to access patron records, the librarian must comply and may not disclose the order.

Patriot Act amplified FBI error, report says

A report declassified and released Friday from Inspector General Glenn Fine found that, while FBI investigators did not abuse their powers in the case, the Patriot Act anti-terrorism law "amplified the consequences" of the FBI 's misidentification of a fingerprint by allowing numerous agencies to share flawed information. The report acknowledges that there was an "unusual similarity" between the fingerprints, confusing three FBI examiners and a court-appointed expert. But Fine's office also found that FBI examiners failed to adhere to the bureau's rules for identifying latent fingerprints and that the FBI's "overconfidence" in its skills prevented it from taking the Spanish police seriously.


Anne Lamott praises libraries on NPR

Yesterday on All Things Considered, novelist and metawriter Anne Lamott gave a stirring paean to libraries in her commentary following the Patriot Act reauthorization.



Search-Engines writes "After a long battle with Congress that went down to the wire, President Bush signed a renewal of the USA Patriot Act today, a day before 16 major provisions of the old law expire.
Bush said the Patriot Act is vital to win the war on terror and protect Americans. He recalled the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and said the country is still at war.

Now Just Awaiting a Signature, House Too Approves Patriot Act

The approval in the House of Representatives by a vote of 280-138 (just two more than needed under special rules that required a two-thirds majority) sent the bill to President Bush for his signature. The Senate last week voted 89-10 to approve the compromise package, which covers 16 provisions in the act that are set to expire on March 10. Story from CNN and the AP .


Senate Approves Patriot Act Renewal

The Senate on Today gave its blessing to the renewal of the USA Patriot Act after adding new privacy protections designed to strike a better balance between civil liberties and the government's power to root out terrorists.

"Our support for the Patriot Act does not mean a blank check for the president," said Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who voted to pass the bill package. "What we tried to do on a bipartisan basis is have a better bill. It has been improved."



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