Patriot Act

Patriot Act

Columnist Defends Libraries Against Call for Tighter USPAT

Columnist John Bogert responds to fellow columnist Deroy Murdock, who thought the US Patriot Act, particularly the provision about libraries, be strengthened. Bogert interpreted Murdock's piece to say

You see, to protect ourselves we must first destroy all those things that we seek to protect.

Or as Calgacus said of the invading Romans on the eve of battle, "They make a desert and call it peace."


Congress Pressed to Renew Library-Search Powers

Articles all over the place this morning on the House of Representatives subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland hearings yesterday. Reuters has one, but The Washington Times has a much more exciting haedline: 9/11 hijackers used public libraries

"The computers in the library were used to review and order airline tickets on an Internet travel reservations site," Mr. Wainstein said. "The last documented visit to the library occurred on August 30, 2001. On that occasion, records indicate that a person using Alhazmi's account used the library's computer to review September 11 reservations that had been previously booked."


Libraries should be a key target of the Patriot Act

Deroy Murdock has a Column Over At NRO in which he says the Patriot Act should add libraries to the locations where federal investigators may hunt terrorists. He cites evidence of the 9/11 hijackers' fondness for libraries and calls those who oppose PATRIOT "dangerously naïve or clandestinely seditious beyond and foolish"

"No square inch of this country should be a safe harbor where terrorists calmly can schedule the slaughter of defenseless civilians. Whether fueled by sincere civil libertarianism or malignant Bushophobia, those who thwart probes of Islamo-fascist library patrons have the same impact: They make it easier — not harder — for terrorists to kill you."

Patriot Act no threat to libraries

GregS* writes "Jeff Jacoby's piece today in the Boston Globe. From the article:

This is the provision of the Patriot Act that has been widely denounced for allowing investigators to obtain library records -- a provision so horrifying to the nation's librarians that the American Library Association launched a campaign against it. In repeated resolutions, the association blasted the Patriot Act as ''a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users." Many public libraries now make a point of warning their patrons that Big Brother may be looking over their shoulders. And the American Civil Liberties Union charges that Section 215 allows the FBI to ''spy on a person because they don't like the books she reads, or because they don't like the Web sites she visits."

All of which would be very disturbing, and reason enough to let Section 215 fall by the wayside, except for one thing: It's a crock."


Revising the Patriot Act

gsandler writes " Here
is an editorial in the Sunday New York Times on Congress' hearings on
the Patriot Act. It includes a discussion of the provisions that affect
libraries. "If Congress becomes too bogged down in the minutiae of the Patriot Act in coming weeks,
it will be in danger of missing the larger picture. Revising the law should be the start, not the end, of its work."

There are a billion PATRIOT stories out there this week. A couple that caught my eye: U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl writes about Why the Patriot Act Must be Renewed at, and Five reasons why conservatives should fight the Patriot Act from The Detroit News.
If any Others catch your eye, let us know.


SAFE ACT: Amendments of PATRIOT ACT suggested by SAFE ACT cosponsor Senator Murkowski.

Daniel points to Senator
Murkowki's press release of the co-sponored SAFE
bill to ammend the Patriot Act
. Some of the SAFE Act (Security and
Freedom Enhancement Act of 2005) provisions she suggests including to revise
the Patriot Act are:

The Safe Act would restore a standard of individualized suspicion
before a Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) order for library
or other  personal records can be obtained and would create procedural
protections to prevent abuses. As is required for grand jury subpoenas,
the SAFE act  would give the recipient of a FISA order the right to
challenge the order, require a government showing that a gag order is necessary,
place a limit on the  gag order and give the recipient the right to
challenge the gag order.

The SAFE Act would also require increased public reporting on the
use of FISA orders.

Similar to the rights and procedures for FISA orders, the SAFE Act
would set guidelines for the use of National Security Letter to obtain
personal  records. The government would have to show reason that the
records sought relate to a suspected terrorist or spy.

Search Google:

[SAFE Act] -[News]

and Freedom Enhancement Act
] -[News]


Some stats on use of PATRIOT Act provisions, still operating "under a cloak of secrecy."

Daniel writes that CNET's
is a "pretty good summary of new info DOJ has released on
controversial provisions.

Supporters of the Patriot Act have complained that critics of the legislation
can't point to any abuses of the Act. Declan McCullagh at CNET quotes Senator
Leahy as pointing out that:

""We have heard over and over again that there have been
no abuses as a result of the Patriot Act," Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat
from Vermont, said during a hearing Tuesday. "But it is difficult, if not
impossible, to verify that claim when some of the most controversial surveillance
powers in the Patriot Act operate under a cloak of secrecy.""


"Sec. 215: secret
court orders
can be used to obtain records or "tangible items" from
any person or organization if the FBI claims a link to terrorism. The unlucky
recipient of the secret order is gagged; disclosing its existence is punished
by a prison term. Librarians are especially concerned. "


Patriot Act: FBI director says, "we have had the cooperation of the libraries to date."

The CSMonitor
that according to FBI director Robert Mueller the reason law
officials haven't had to use the Patriot Act in accessing
library records is that ""we have had the cooperation of the libraries
to date,"" prompting the ALA's Washington office deputy director Patrice
McDermott to later respond, ""it's a core principle of our profession that
user records are confidential. If you're not free to read and research
and think, you don't have freedom of speech.""

Google: [Patriot
Act Library
~ [Patriot
Act Section 215

Hermit :-x

Patriot Act Gets a Hearing

The USA Patriot Act is Back In The News.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings yesterday on the law. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told senators the White House would accept limited changes to the Patriot Act, which is drawing increasing fire from a coalition of conservatives, civil libertarians, librarians, booksellers, and local and state governments.

CNET and Wired cover things from a techie point of view.

There are other articles at San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Post Intelligencer, and about A Million other places.


Patriot Act: Renew Unchanged Or With Major Revisions?

Anonymous Patron writes "The Associated Press Reports The Bush administration's two top law enforcement officials on Tuesday urged Congress to renew every provision of the anti-terror Patriot Act; a portion of which is due to expire in December. FBI Director Robert Mueller also asked lawmakers to expand the Bureau's ability to obtain records without first asking a judge.

On the same day Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was speaking to the Senate committee, Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., planned to reintroduce legislation designed to curb major parts of the Patriot Act that they say went too far."


New coalition fights Patriot Act reauthorization

Rich writes "AP reports that the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform and the Free Congress Foundation formed a new coalition called the Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances to lobby Congress to repeal three key provisions of the USA Patriot Act. "The coalition wants to repeal or let expire prosecutors' Patriot Act ability to obtain records in terrorism-related cases from businesses and other entities, icluding libraries..."


Librarians and FBI official debate the Patriot Act

The Reader's Shop writes " reports Librarians and Robert Jordan, FBI special agent, met at Southern Oregon University for a forum called "Libraries, Censorship and the Internet in the Era of the Patriot Act. Participants discussed the extent of the laws provisions and the likelihood that "investigative incursions into private records are likely to get much more aggressive if there’s another big terrorist attack". Gag rules included in the bill were also discussed as well as other topics including exactly what kind of authority FBI agents need to access library records."


Patrons want warning signs posted in library

Anonymous Patron writes "Quad-City Times Newspaper Online (Davenport,IA) has an interesting article on a "terrible choice" faced by Bettendorf public library director Faye Clow.
She was asked by the Quad-City chapter of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union to put up warning signs near library materials. While she, and most librarians, believe fiercely in privacy and confidentiality, she also believes libraries should be politically neutral."


LIB Awarded for Protecting Privacy of Patrons writes " reports:
After not disclosing library patrons' privacy to the FBI, the Whatcom County Library System received the 2004 Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award.

Amory Peck, chair of the board of trustees for the library system, accepted the award at a reception in Boston Jan. 15. The award was given by faculty of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois. It was given for the library's choosing not to release subpoenaed records after a Deming library patron found hand-written text in a book quoting Osama bin Laden and contacted the FBI.

The award is presented annually to acknowledge individuals or groups who further the cause of intellectual freedom, said Marlo Weshons, assistant dean for the office of communication and publications at the University of Illinois
A History of Previous Winners"


2005 Patriot Act Study by ALA

Carol Terry writes "ALA's Washington Office Newsline, Jan. 5, 2005, reports that ALA has "initiated a set of surveys to assess the impact of the USA PATRIOT act on America's libraries and library patrons." Results are to be presented at the 2005 conference in Chicago. Has More"


Battle Continues to Amend Section 215 of Patriot Act

John Ashcroft may be headed for retirement, but Section 215 of the Patriot Act, passed in the wake of 9/11, remains in force.

Here from Bookselling This Week is a reminder from the Campaign for Reader Privacy about the ensuing battle to make changes to the act to ensure privacy. ALA, ABA, and AAP are some of the groups involved.

    does anyone else miss that ashcroft/slash icon?


Two major Bush officials resign

AshtabulaGuy writes "A critical US cabinet officer who impacts librarians every day resigned. Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, responsible for the Census Bureau, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the National Weather Service, and more resigned. His administration prepares and provides tons of information resources to librarians that are used by reference librarians and catalogers alike during the course of their work. Through the NTIA much Internet policy is set and much of the Internet's future is plotted.

Oh. And Attorney General John Ashcroft resigned too.

Former General Counsel and current Deputy Secretary of Commerce Theodore W. Kassinger will assume control of the US Department of Commerce between the taking effect of the resignation by Evans and the confirmation of a successor. Likewise Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey will assume control of the US Department of Justice in the interim between the Ashcroft resignation taking effect and the confirmation of a successor. It is not yet known who will be nominated as successors.

Statements from the White House:

President Thanks Secretary Ashcroft
President Thanks Secretary Evans"


FoxNews: Aschroft to resign

ChuckB writes "At The Command Post:

FOX TV is reporting that Ashcroft will resign his post, possibly in January. CNN is reporting two weeks.

There’s also talk of Colin Powell leaving the Bush team.

Bush will be holding a press conference momentarily.




Feingold, Michels take off gloves over Patriot Act

Republican Tim Michels accused U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold of repeatedly turning his back on homeland security Friday night in the first debate between the two, singling out the incumbent's vote against the Patriot Act that expanded police powers to fight terrorism. ... Feingold said he voted against the bill after looking at it closely and seeing that allowed the government to monitor computer use, look at library records and get into people's homes without just cause.

The Capital Times


Media misreport Marrero ruling against "national security letter" provision

ChuckB writes "Orin Kerr, a Fourth Amendment scholar blogging at the Volokh Conspiracy, notes that the mainstream media are reporting on Judge Victor Marrero's ruling on the "national security letter" provision of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act as if it were a blow against the Patriot Act:

As I noted in my post below, a recent decision of the Southern District of New York struck down part of a 1986 law known as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. How does the press report the decision? No mention of the 1986 law, of course. Instead, the press is reporting that the court struck down a major part of the Patriot Act, in a blow to the Bush Administration's overzealous response to terrorism. As I trace the history of the statute, this is quite inaccurate: the basic law was implemented in 1986, almost 20 years ago. To be fair, the Patriot Act did amend some language in this section; just not in a relevant way. As best I can tell, the court's decision does not rely on or even address anything in the Patriot Act. (See page 14-22 of the Court's opinion for the details of the statute's history.)

Kerr links to incorrect stories in the New York Times , the Washington Post , and the Associated Press.

Read the decision for yourself. A prior post by Kerr discusses the ruling in more detail and suggests that Marrero's ruling may lead to increased reliance on Section 215 of the Patriot Act."



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