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January 23, 2004

ACLU/CLA Campaign on Patriot Act


Jessamyn on librarian.net rightly called this a "can of whup-ass." Quickly donning my hat as state IFC chair, I'll add that it has been a blast working with the ACLU on this issue. Like her, I can't resist putting the graphic in my blog. I've written ACLU to ask if we can get a version for Web sites. (I think this ad is going to be the "blue ribbon campaign" for this year, if not several years hence.)


Posted by kgs at January 23, 2004 09:15 AM

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Posted by: Jack Stephens at January 24, 2004 03:27 PM


"Barrel o' fear mongering" would be a more appropriate nick-name for this campaign.

To begin with, there can be no question of placing library records entirely off-limits to law enforcement, as I'm sure you are well aware, and in fact the SAFE Act itself aims to limit, but not eliminate access by law enforcement to library records. In this sense, law enforcement has always been and will remain able to "read over your shoulder." The campaign's slogan is thus misleading and needlessly inflammatory.

Furthermore, as FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III points out in his piece in the current American Libraries (1/2004, p. 48-9), "Agents can only seek a Section 215 order if the records being sought relate to an authorized counterintelligence or counterterrorism investigation."

In other words, agents are required by the Patriot Act itself to obtain a *court order* in order to request records for *specific individuals* in furtherance of a *specific investigation*. As Mueller states in the same piece, this leaves "no latitude for 'fishing expeditions' in libraries, bookstores, or elsewhere."

I am perplexed that the relatively minor changes to the Patriot Act that are actually aimed at in the SAFE Act should lead to such bitter acrimony towards the DOJ, or require such an overheated, "whup-ass" campaign.

Posted by: Jack Stephens at January 24, 2004 03:39 PM

oh yeah, I believe the Bush administration, too! I'm glad we're on Mars... maybe we'll find the Weapons of Mass Destruction!

Posted by: K.G. Schneider at January 24, 2004 03:42 PM

Nothing to "believe," Karen. It's all right there in black-and-white in the Patriot Act. However, if we're just demonizing the Bush adminstration, then excuse me for attempting to reason with you.

Posted by: Jack Stephens at January 24, 2004 05:06 PM

They are able to make themselves a bad name without any assistance from me, but thanks anyway.

Posted by: K.G. Schneider at January 24, 2004 05:12 PM

Where do I get me a poster like that there? It's saaaaweet. :) All the contact junk seemed to be phone numbers, and well, I'm on a tight budget.

Posted by: Brooke at February 6, 2004 11:00 AM

Hee hee. I snatched it and made it part of my screensaver slide-show.

Posted by: Ruth Ellen Seid at February 14, 2004 12:40 PM