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calendar   Thursday - June 16, 2005

Congress Votes To Protect Libraries From Evil FBI Intrusion

Our wonderful CongressCritters just voted to dop a provision in the Patriot Act that allows the FBI to search library records without a court-ordered search warrant. The FBI has only used this provision of the Act 35 times over the last four years. What’s going on here? Are we tying the hands of the FBI again so they will miss key informtaion like what happened prior to 9/11? Where do we draw the line ....?

The House handed President Bush the first defeat in his effort to preserve the broad powers of the USA Patriot Act, voting yesterday to curtail the FBI’s ability to seize library and bookstore records for terrorism investigations.

Bush has threatened to veto any measure that weakens those powers. The surprise 238 to 187 rebuke to the White House was produced when a handful of conservative Republicans, worried about government intrusion, joined with Democrats who are concerned about personal privacy.

One provision of the Patriot Act makes it possible for the FBI to obtain a wide variety of personal records about a suspected terrorist—including library transactions—with an order from a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, where the government must meet a lower threshold of proof than in criminal courts.

Under the House change, officials would have to get search warrants from a judge or subpoenas from a grand jury to seize records about a suspect’s reading habits.

Some libraries have said they are disposing of patrons’ records more quickly because of the provision, which opponents view as a license for fishing expeditions.

House Administration Committee Chairman Robert W. Ney (Ohio), one of three House Republicans who opposed the Patriot Act when it was enacted in 2001, voted yesterday to curtail agents’ power to seize the records.

“Everybody’s against terrorism, but there has to be reason in the way that we fight it,” Ney said. “The government doesn’t need to be sifting through library records. I talked to my libraries, and they felt very strongly about this.”

The Justice Department said in a letter to Congress this week that the provision has been used only 35 times and has never been used to obtain bookstore, library, medical or gun-sale records. It has been used to obtain records of hotel stays, driver’s licenses, apartment leases and credit cards, the letter said.

“Bookstores and libraries should not be carved out as safe havens for terrorists and spies, who have, in fact, used public libraries to do research and communicate with their co-conspirators,” Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella said in the letter.

OK, this is the hot topic du jour so weigh in, everyone. What do you think? Too much government intrusion or not enough security? Or maybe it’s just the “crack down the middle” as OCM says. Fire when ready. The comment machine awaits you ....

Note: Did you know the Patriot Act has nothing to do with patriots or patriotism? The name is actually an acronym and the full name of the USA Patriot Act is: ”Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.” I’d like to shoot the dumb sonofabitch who dreamed that name up. Carry on ....


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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 06/16/2005 at 11:18 AM   
Filed Under: • Homeland-Security •  
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