Patriot Act

Patriot Act

Librarians, U.S. attorneys squaring off

The Chicago Sun Times says that loud "Shhhhh!" you hear Monday may be the sound of 25,000 librarians reacting to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's defense of the government's right to confiscate people's library records. Fitzgerald has volunteered to take his campaign for renewal right into the heart of the opposition today, debating Colleen Connell, director of the Chicago office of the American Civil Liberties Union, which takes the librarians' side.

Library records safe under the Patriot Act

An Editorial says Many of the Patriot Act’s provisions, including the more controversial provisions concerning library records and so-called “sneak and peak� searches, do not provide new and unprecedented investigative tools to law enforcement officials. Rather, the Patriot Act allows law enforcement officials to now use tools long available to them regarding organized crime, child pornography, or drug investigations when conducting international terrorism investigations.

Unfortunately, much of the debate regarding the Patriot Act has become so exaggerated and distorted that the thoughtful deliberation which reauthorization of this important law deserves is too often missing.

Librarians, U.S. attorneys squaring off

Anonymous Patron writes about this Chicago Sun Times story,

"That loud "Shhhhh!" you hear Monday may be the sound of 25,000 librarians reacting to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's defense of the government's right to confiscate people's library records.

Fitzgerald, like many U.S. attorneys around the country, has become a roving defender of the USA Patriot Act and its most controversial provision allowing federal investigators to seize people's library records.

Chief among the critics of that provision, passed in the nervous days after 9/11, is the American Library Association, which is meeting in Chicago this weekend...""


New USAPA amendments regarding libraries

The Senate Intelligence Committee's proposed amendments to the PATRIOT Act are now available as S. 1266.

Aside from other changes that can be debated later, this version of the bill introduces a number of helpful statistical reports regarding Sec. 215 activity in libraries and bookstores, including:

Sec. 811 (b)

Attorney General shall submit to the committees of Congress referred to in subsection (a) and to the Committees on the Judiciary of the Senate and the House of Representatives a report setting forth, with respect to the preceding six-month period--
(1) the total number of administrative sub-poenas issued under this title;
(2) the total number of certifications under section 807(a);
(3) the total number of petitions filed under section 808;
(4) the total number of petitions modified or set aside pursuant to section 808(a); and
(5) the total number of administrative subpoenas issued under this title requiring the production of any records or other materials from or with respect to each of the following:
(A) From a library, as defined in section 213(2) of the Library Services and Technology Act (20 U.S.C. 9122(2)).

(More below the fold)


Watching what we read

Steven M. Cohen writes "From The Herald Tribune:

"Library officials refused to hand over the records and pointed out that a quick Google search showed that the words were from a bin Laden quote. The most likely scenario was that a student doing a paper on the terrorist had scrawled the note in the margin -- a practice frowned upon by librarians but hardly worthy of federal intervention.""


Big Bro Wants Easier Access to Your Net Records

David H. Rothman writes "If you like the Patriot Act, you'll love a proposal to require Internet providers to keep their records on your Net use for a minimum period of time. Bizarre. I thought WE had won the Cold War. It's as the Internet somehow got invented for the convenience of the KGB. (From CNet)


Patriot Act Commentary: Your Fingerprints are Everywhere

Pete writes "The Register (UK) has an interesting commentary on the Patriot Act here:

In 1787, Thomas Jefferson, one of the founders of the United States and its third President, wrote to Abigail Adams sentences that may seem incredible to many people today:

    "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere."

The Naperville Public Library in Naperville, Illinois (the board of which is appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council) is now going to ask patrons to submit fingerprints in order to verify the identities of patrons wishing to use the Internet terminals. Currently, parents can ask the library to filter the Internet access of their kids; according to the library, "filtered" kids are swapping library cards with kids whose parents have not asked for filters, so the little shavers are able to use the network without restrictions."


House votes no on Patriot Act library records provision

The Reader's Shop writes "MSNBC Reports Despite a possible veto from President Bush, the House voted Wednesday to block
the FBI and the Justice Department from using the Patriot Act to search library
and bookstore records. The vote was 238-187."

VT Rep. Bernie Sanders to Introduce Freedom to Read Amendment Today

As early as late today or tomorrow, Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is expected to introduce in the U.S. House of Representatives an amendment to the House Commerce, Justice, State (CJS) Appropriations Bill to cut off funds for library and bookstore searches under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. The amendment to the CJS Appropriations Bill, which funds the Justice Department, is co-sponsored by two Republicans -- Rep. Butch Otter (ID) and Rep. Ron Paul (TX)-- and two Democrats -- Rep. Jerry Nadler (NY) and Rep. Tom Udall (NM).

"Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act is part of a dangerous erosion of our Constitutional rights that, little by little, is making us a less free nation," said Congressman Sanders. "American citizens across the political spectrum have made it very clear that they do not want the government monitoring their reading habits when they walk into a library or bookstore. We can protect our nation from terrorism without letting Uncle Sam read over our collective shoulders."

For more information about the Freedom to Read Amendment and the Campaign for Reader Privacy, go to the Bookweb/American Booksellers Association website.


Republicans Criticize PATRIOT Act

Daniel writes "The libertarian Cato Institute has an item on some conservative leaders who are speaking out against the PATRIOT Act renewal and the secret markup by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Moral of passing USAPA: "If you give a mouse a cookie...""

USA PATRIOT Act ~ Implications for Cdn. Libraries

Cabot writes "The Canadian Library Association has released a briefing note (.pdf) on the implications for Canadian libraries of the USA PATRIOT Act."


Patriot Act Expansion Bill Approved In Secret

Declan McCullagh Says the Senate Intelligence committee has voted to expand the PATRIOT act. The ACLU Has a press release, but there doesn't seem to be anything else out there at this point.

In Other PATRIOT News Colorado passed a bipartisan resolution calling on Congress to bring the controversial Patriot Act in line with the Constitution. Colorado becomes the seventh state, and joins at least 382 other communities that have passed such resolutions. A similar resolution recently passed the Idaho state legislature.


NPR on one library system's run in w/PATRIOT

From today's Morning Edition, a story about one northwestern Washington library system's grappling with PATRIOT:

Congress is considering whether to renew parts of the USA Patriot Act that are due to expire soon, including a provision that allows library records to be turned over to law enforcement. As part of our continuing coverage of the Patriot Act, Larry Abramson has this report on a library system in northwestern Washington state that had its ethics tested when the FBI came to call.

Complete story (Real Audio required). A related story discusses the use of library records in the investigation of the Unabomber case.


FBI Now Wants To Monitor Snail Mail Too

Daniel writes "Looks like the FBI is hoping to go back to the bad old days of monitoring mail in the name of national security.

Over 30 years ago, the Church Commission concluded that the US Intelligence Community abused the rights of many Americans and went on fishing expeditions. Why does anyone think they're not going to abuse their authority this time? How many times to we have to watch this reel?"


The (mostly) Texas Books Issue By the book

Blake writes "The San Antonio Current Interviews Frates Seeligson. Seeligson insists modestly that many people read more than he does, but they think not many read as comprehensively. He visited with the Current in his pleasant, and yes, book-filled, offices near Brackenridge Park.
Since his 30s, Seeligson has followed a self-made plan to read his way chronologically through world and American history, while enjoying books on public policy, sensual topics such as shad and caviar, and fiction. "I try to average four books a month," he told me, holding up a yellow legal pad filled with pages of titles, many scratched off. "So at the end of six months, I've read 24 books."


FBI requests new Patriot Act powers

Rich writes "The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold closed
meeting on Thursday to move legislation to allow the FBI to seize business or private records to investigate terrorism without first securing approval from a judge. Reports Reuters Reports.
ACLU has
this reponse
Mary Minow LibraryLaw Blog has two analyses of the changes."


Infoshop News - Libraries & The Patriot Act: Too much Talk, Not Enough Action

Anonymous Patron writes "One From Infoshop, By Sanford Berman, says apart from scattered and often repetitive evidence - largely anecdotal - it really doesn't seem that much has happened at the absolutely crucial level of specific libraries and library systems to inform the public (and staff) of the Act's privacy and free speech implications, to reexamine record retention policies in order to best circumvent or frustrate government snooping, and to actively oppose the Act, or at least agitate for the repeal or amendment of Section 215. The most significant impact - and action - is local."


FBI accused of investigating USAPA opponents

Daniel sent over a Article that reports on the same day that the FBI warned a Congressional committee about the danger of "domestic terrorism," the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Wednesday accused the FBI of using terrorism as a pretext to spy on activists who "oppose the war in Iraq, the USA Patriot Act, and other government policies."


Expanded Patriot Act to Be Proposed

The Associated Press has one of many articles on a new measure being written by Sen. Pat Roberts. The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee is working on a bill that would renew the USA Patriot Act and expand government powers in the name of fighting terrorism, letting the FBI subpoena records without permission from a judge or a grand jury.
The information came from aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Roberts has yet to make the bill's contents public.

Opponents of expanding the Patriot Act said Roberts's proposal would amount to an expansive wish list for the administration.


Librarian's Brush with the FBI

Fang-Face writes "It seems the Whatcom County Library System is flaunting USAPA. Read:
Librarian's Brush with FBI Shapes her View of the USA Patriot Act, an editorial by librarian Joan Airoldi published in USA Today (and reprinted at"



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