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by Jim Hightower
INVADING YOUR LIBRARY
You can trust your government, right?
That's what the
Bushites told us and the congress in 2001, when they rushed into law their USA
Patriot Act, which included Section 215, a provision allowing the FBI to seize
our personal library records without even getting a search warrant. Trust us,
they said – we won't misuse this autocratic, un-American power of intrusion into
You could ask a library consortium in Connecticut about
the value of this assurance. This group was stunned to receive an FBI demand to
turn over its records on the reading habits and Internet use of some of its
patrons. Under the expanded law, such executive subpoenas are issued without any
judge's approval – basically, the FBI simply writes a letter to itself
authorizing its agents to seize the material, without specifying any charges of
wrongdoing by the library patrons.
While you could ask the Connecticut
library about this invasion, it could not respond, for the law also permanently
bars any library "from disclosing to any person that the FBI has sought or
obtained access to information or records." This is the stuff of a police-state
– government agents can grab your records and gag your librarians!
Connecticut case is especially important, for it is the first confirmed instance
of the FBI using the Patriot Act to get library records. The Bushites had
claimed earlier that they have never used Section 215, calling critics of the
provision "hysterical." But librarians are hardly hysterics – they are
no-nonsense people who dig out facts. In a survey of its members, the American
Library Association found that government agents have asked for the records of
library patrons more than 200 times since the law passed.
This is Jim
Hightower saying... Diligence against abusive police power is not hysteria –
it's patriotism. To fight the liberty-busting power of Section 215, call the
Library Association: 1-800-545-2433.
"F.B.I., Using Patriot Act, Demand's Library's Records," New
York Times, August 26, 2005.
(c) 2005, Copyright - Saddleburr Productions, Inc. This
essay is herein reprinted with the author's
Posted October 05, 2005
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