Patriot Act

Patriot Act

Librarian Speaks of Fear of Imprisonment

Fang-Face writes "An
ACLU news release posted at tells how papers, which were ordered unsealed by the judge in the case, include three affidavits and a legal brief. One of those affidavits was filed by a librarian who was "charged with educating the library community and general public about intellectual freedom." This lawsuit challenges the National Security Letter provision of USAPA, which authorizes the FBI to demand a range of personal records without court approval, including library records and the identify of people who have used library computers."


FBI's Pursuit of Library Records Challenged

U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall held a hearing on Wednesday for the Connecticut librarian involved with a PATRIOT request in Connecticut. U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor urged Hall to consider the government's interest and public policy demands for maintaining secrecy.

Hall said she would issue a ruling next week on the ACLU's motion for a preliminary injunction. Whichever way Hall rules, one or both of the parties is likely to take the matter to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Connecticut Post has some details, as does The NY Times,


At Stake in Court...

The New York Times introduces the story this way: "It was a hearing where the name of the client was never disclosed, the subject of the federal inquiry remained unidentified and the context for the exercise was kept top secret."

It was of course a hearing on the use of the Patriot Act in a unknown Connecticut library. The Patriot Act is no longer an untried theory, but a genuine tool of investigation, which some find reprehensible, some find necessary.


FBI library records probe hits home

The Greenwich Time has a half way interesting look at the progress of the lawsuit after disclosures that federal agents have used the Patriot Act to try to seize users' records at a Fairfield County library.
"It's closer to home and it makes us stop and think and see what impact this law has on local libraries," said Gonzalez, a member of the Connecticut Library Association. "A lot of people are very concerned about it and want to know what develops out of this."
Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., said it "boggles" him that librarians -- who he said normally comply with other types of law enforcement investigations -- feel the need to oppose anti-terrorism probes.
Librarians interviewed said they did not know which library FBI agents approached.


Librarian Hero-With All Our Hearts

Kathleen writes "This is it. We have our hero....Thank you.
I hope all will be revealed soon, but we know who you are and we thank you with ALL our hearts.

"A copy of the ACLU lawsuit said the library involved "strictly guards the confidentiality and privacy of its library and internet records, and believes it should not be forced to disclose such records without a showing of compelling need and approval by a judge."

Using its expanded power under the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act, the F.B.I. is demanding library records (NYT login/pw): lisusethis/lisnews) from a Connecticut institution as part of an intelligence investigation, the American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday. This LISNews story has additional background."


FBI After Library Records?

Anonymous Patron points to a release from the ACLU today claiming that the FBI has used the Patriot Act to access library records:
FBI Uses Patriot Act to Demand Information with No Judicial Approval From Organization with Library Records

The American Civil Liberties Union today disclosed that the FBI has used a controversial Patriot Act power to demand records from an organization that possesses "a wide array of sensitive information about library patrons, including information about the reading materials borrowed by library patrons and about Internet usage by library patrons." The FBI demand was disclosed in a new lawsuit filed in Connecticut, which remains under a heavy FBI gag order.

Part of the problem with "secret" searches is that accusations
fly on both sides of the debate. Is the FBI really starting up some sort of Library Awareness Program, or is this an isolated case with the facts skewed? (Note that not even the ACLU is saying the FBI requested or obtained library records.)


Four Amendments and a Funeral

stevenj writes "That's the title of an article in the latest issue of Rolling Stone that should be of interest to librarians. It provides an in depth look into Rep. Bernie Sanders efforts to introduce an amendment to the bill to reauthorize the Patriot Act in order to rollback the nefarious Section 215. The story tells how Sanders and his team are frustrated by opposition foes along the legislative path. Sanders pretty much sums up the way our Congress works when he is quoted saying "Nobody knows how this place is run. If they did, they'd go nuts."


Four Amendments and a Funeral

stevenj writes "That's the title of an article in the latest issue of Rolling Stone that profiles Rep. Bernie Sander's effort to amend the bill to reauthorize the Patriot Act so that the nefarious Section 215 would be rolled back. It provide real insight into how the legislative process works, and emphasizes Sanders frustration with it as he sees his effort to rollback Section 215 disintegrate. As Sander's describes it, "Nobody knows how this place is run. If they did, they'd go nuts." Find it at: 9"

Dude Confused About Patriot Act

Commentary from a fellow who is mightily confused about the status of the USA PATRIOT Act, particularly section 215 that pertains to libraries and bookstores.

Then, while browsing the liberal blogosphere a few days back, I read that no, there would not actually be a celebration, but a dirge . . . Section 215 is to be extended for 10 years. To say my tutu hung limp would be a gross understatement.

The rest from Eric Wennermark at PopMatters


Patriot Act hype hurting libraries.

An Anonymous Patron writes "I found the following posting at the BookCrossing website. It seems to be a person that is avoiding the library because of the fear of the Patriot Act. Could it be that over hyping the Patriot Act is actually huriting libraries because now the public has the perception that their records can be seized at anytime?"

[At the time of my posting this, the book crossing site was not working, but I thought the question posed here was interesting and hopefully we will be able to access the page soon. - AJK]


U.S. Senate votes to make permanent almost all expiring provisions of Patriot Act

The Reader's Shop writes On Friday, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act. The House passed it's version earlier this month. The Senate bill would require the federal government to report how the provisions are used to view library and medical records. The ability to go to a secret court for permission to seize records from libraries and bookstores will renew for 4 years under the Senate bill. The house bill has a 10 year sunset for this provision.

The Senate and House bills must be reconciled before a final measure can be sent to Bush. Congressional officials said they were confident that they could work out a compromise.

More on the story can be found here

Denver Library tells feds: Butt out

One From The Denver Post on a move by the Denver Public Library this week that has inserted itself into the national political debate over the USA Patriot Act.
On Monday, the library strung, between its east pillars, white plastic tape with large letters reading: "Privacy Line - Do Not Cross." Smaller text read, "Stop Secret Searches - ACLU -"


Republican Congressman chides colleagues on USAPA

Daniel writes "From Lew Rockwell's Site

Unfortunately, some of my congressional colleagues referenced the recent London bombings during the debate, insinuating that opponents of the Patriot Act somehow would be responsible for a similar act here at home. I won’t even dignify that slur with the response it deserves. Let’s remember that London is the most heavily monitored city in the world, with surveillance cameras recording virtually all public activity in the city center. British police officials are not hampered by our 4th amendment nor our numerous due process requirements. In other words, they can act without any constitutional restrictions, just as supporters of the Patriot Act want our own police to act. Despite this they were not able to prevent the bombings, proving that even a wholesale surveillance society cannot be made completely safe against determined terrorists. Congress misses the irony entirely. The London bombings don’t prove the need for the Patriot Act, they prove the folly of it.

Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas."



The PATRIOT Act be makin' headlines. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared on on CNN's "Late Edition" and said "We cannot allow libraries and use of libraries to become safe havens for terrorists." He also also credited the USA Patriot Act with preventing a follow-up in the United States to the September 11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The editorial pages are lit up with PATRIOT parrots, both for and against. Jim Dunn, in The Oregonian says it's very important to our country and law enforcement officials that we renew them. While the Seattle Post Intelligencer says "Freedom and fear are at war," the president declared on Sept. 11, 2001. That remains the case. And the House vote was a victory for fear.

A couple of other barely interesting articles floating around out there, KCBS Reports on California Congress Folks Representatives Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo) who gave it a thumbs down, calling it "worse than the first Patriot Bill,"
Michael points us to This Chicago Tribune and one on poposed changes in the Patriot Act that would set up safeguards for the nation's library patrons and let librarians seek legal help if federal investigators demand patrons' records, the head of Chicago's library system and U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said Sunday.

And finally, just one more, quotable editorila from The Times Tribune, "Openness as the ‘default’ position"

"The default position of our government must be openness. If records can be open they should be open. If good reason exists to keep secrets, it is the government that should bear the burden — not the other way around."

Michael Gorman, head of ALA on the Patriot Act

The Reader's Shop sends this "Reuters piece in which ALA President Michael Gorman calls the calls the "librarian" clause of the Patriot Act "Kafkaesque." Gorman compared the clause
to "50s and the "red scare". Gorman spoke of the government's rationale for the clause and it's possible effects on Libraries across the nation.


Congress Votes to Extend Patriot Act

In a vote of 257-171 on Thursday July 21 the United States Congress reauthorized several elements of the Patriot Act, which were due to expire in 2006. Fourteen of the sixteen sections with "sunset clauses" were made permanent, and the other two were extended for ten years. The legislation now goes before the Senate. President Bush has expressed interest in the act being extended, and vows to pass any legislation that reaches his desk.

The Patriot Act was passed in late October 2001 and was aimed at preventing further terror attacks through expanded law enforcement powers. It is a controversial act which some claim violates citizens' constitutional rights. The final roll call tally can be located here.


New "Reform the Patriot Act Blog"

Daniel writes "The ACLU launched a new blog last Friday promising USAPA reauthorization news and action alerts. The blog is called Reform the Patriot Act and can be found at

In the spirit of free speech, this blog allows comments, so USAPA true believers can explain why USAPA needs no reform."


Acquisition of Reading Records in Scottsdale

Kathleen writes "The U.S. Department of Justice used court orders three times in early 2004 to obtain documents from the Scottsdale Public Library containing reader account information, according to records released by the city."It seems to me a fairly fundamental American freedom to read what the hell you please without the government putting its fingers into it," said Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association. The federal grand jury subpoenas suggest they are connected to the investigation of a February 2004 mail bomb attack against Scottsdale Diversity director Don Logan.
Guess this was right after Ashcroft tried to discredit critics by stating " that the FBI has never used its expanded powers to obtain records from libraries and businesses."..but wait, this is a different law--a state law."


House Judiciary & Intelligence Committees Vote Tomorrow on the Patriot Act

The Campaign for Reader Privacy needs your help! (information courtesy of The Campaign for Reader Privacy).

Tomorrow (Wednesday, July 13), the House of Representatives' Judiciary and Intelligence committees will separately consider legislation that reauthorizes the expiring sections of the USA PATRIOT Act, including Section 215.

It is critical to contact members of both committees today.

While we won an important battle last month, when the House voted to block funds for bookstore and library searches under Section 215, we said at the time that the real fight would be over the reauthorization. The bill pending before the Judiciary Committee, H.R. 3199, extends all of the expiring PATRIOT Act sections and must pass before the end of the year. As to the Intelligence Committee, we have not even been able to see the bill that will be reviewed tomorrow, and the meeting is being held in secret.

If you want to see changes in the Patriot Act, contact the members of these two committees today. Names and phone numbers are in the next section. House members who voted for the Freedom to Read Amendment, which cuts off funds for PATRIOT Act searches of bookstores and libraries, are indicated by an asterisk(*).


Parties Failing in Joint Effort to Review Patriot Act

From today's New York Times an article about the lack of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans on the matter of renewal of The Patriot Act.

House Democratic officials said Monday that while they were actively involved in negotiations on the original passage of the Patriot Act in October 2001, they felt shut out now.

"There's an incredible contrast this time around," said a senior Democratic aide on the House Judiciary Committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of political tensions surrounding the issue.

"This time, the Republicans have told us for some time they are working on a bill, they asked for our suggestions, and they ended up saying that none of our suggestions were acceptable," the aide said. "So they're now dropping a bill that we see as a total reauthorization of the Patriot Act with only very slight tweaks."



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