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Ashcroft Vs The Librarians
September 18, 2003 6:19 AM   Subscribe

After calling our concerns Hysteria and saying we've been Duped by those who are ideologically opposed to the Patriot Act, Ashcroft Now Says the FBI has not sought a single record from a library or business under a part of the Patriot Act widely criticized as opening Americans' reading habits or personal information to undue government scrutiny.
After a Phone Call to the Head of the American Library Assoc, he promised to declassify a report on how often the agency has sought information from public libraries under the USA Patriot Act.
Congressman Bernie Sanders Says who has authored legislation that would amend section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, welcomed reports today that Attorney General Ashcroft, after months of pressure from Congress and national civil liberty and privacy organizations, has agreed to disclose to the public how Section 215 has been used.
posted by Blake (18 comments total)

 
This link has a story on NPR about his Hysteria speech. In the report is an excerpt of his speech. It is worth listening to. It gives me the chills to hear Ascrofts acting skills.

http://www.npr.org/features/feature.php?wfId=1433156
posted by jopreacher at 6:34 AM on September 18, 2003


But Caldwell-Stone said there are known cases in which the FBI investigated people with Middle Eastern names reading library Web sites in Arabic.from the sltrib link

That pretty much said it all. I wonder if this will be in the declassified report, and whether we'll know what websites were being read...after all, even the bbc has arab-language versions.

And I'm really proud of librarians for having the balls to stand up against this kind of thing--unlike companies like Jet Blue
posted by amberglow at 6:49 AM on September 18, 2003


As though it matters whether they've actually used their new snooping powers or not - what matters is that they have them, and can't be trusted with them.
posted by Mars Saxman at 7:10 AM on September 18, 2003


The RIP act in the UK, as I understand it, gives police unfettered access to what websites British citizens visit, which to my mind is exactly the same as them having access to my library reading habits.

Except for the porn, obviously.

Is wanking furiously like a chimp in the zoo, still grounds for being ejected from a public reading library?
posted by Blue Stone at 7:19 AM on September 18, 2003


Could Mr. Ashcroft please grant me the right to print unlimited money for my own use? I promise, I'd never abuse it. I'd even fly my Gulfstream G550 down to his office and drop off a report stating that I'd never even use it, let alone abuse it!
posted by mosch at 7:20 AM on September 18, 2003


Unfortunately, given that librarians are forbidden by law to acknowledge demands for information under the Patriot Act, we will have no means to verify Ashcroft's claims.
posted by troybob at 7:21 AM on September 18, 2003


Well it seems like if Ashcroft isn't going to use this section of the Patriot Act then he won't mind if we just remove it.

Or, if he's claiming that the Justice Department has never used it, then he won't mind waiving prosecution for any librarians who would like to come forward and claim otherwise.
posted by bshort at 7:50 AM on September 18, 2003


Good to see Ashcroft thinks privacy concerns are funny.
Hah ah ha ha.
Oh yeah. I'm really laughing.

All the way to the detention camp
posted by Outlawyr at 8:29 AM on September 18, 2003


Carla Hayden is a great ALA president. I believe Ashcroft didn't just call her, he responded to this letter.
posted by ahimsakid at 8:30 AM on September 18, 2003


In December 2001, Professor Leigh Estabrook of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign GSLIS conducted an anonymous mail-based survey to public libraries in the United States serving populations over 5,000. Of the 1028 libraries that responded (68% response rate, equaling 20% of such public libraries) 85 libraries (8.3% of respondents) reported that authorities have requested information about their patrons pursuant to the events of September 11th. And this was only in the first three or four months of the law. - "The USA PATRIOT Act:
the response and responsibility of library management," Elisabeth Riba, July 2002 [check out the meaty bibliography]

I know this thanks to Jessamyn's librarian.net. Check out her warning posters troybob.
posted by roboto at 8:56 AM on September 18, 2003


we will have no means to verify Ashcroft's claims.

Now, see, there ya go again with the hysteria. As if our annointed attorney-general would claim something that wasn't intrinsically true, honest, just and good.
posted by soyjoy at 8:56 AM on September 18, 2003


Well....
The ever prescient Onion has a blurb on this subject:

Revised Patriot Act Will Make It Illegal To Read Patriot Act
WASHINGTON, DC—President Bush spoke out Monday in support of a revised version of the 2001 USA Patriot Act that would make it illegal to read the USA Patriot Act. "Under current federal law, there are unreasonable obstacles to investigating and prosecuting acts of terrorism, including the public's access to information about how the federal police will investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism," Bush said at a press conference Monday. "For the sake of the American people, I call on Congress to pass this important law prohibiting access to itself." Bush also proposed extending the rights of states to impose the death penalty "in the wake of Sept. 11 and stuff."


They don't mean for this stuff to be serious! Really! :-) This is bizarro world, eh?
posted by nofundy at 9:38 AM on September 18, 2003


Am I the only one who looked at the storm track for hurricane Isabel and thought that God must be really pissed off at the Bush administration?
posted by VulcanMike at 9:50 AM on September 18, 2003


And I'm really proud of librarians for having the balls to stand up against this kind of thing.

Hear, hear. Does it make me hysterical to point out that American Idol John Ashcroft is clearly lying? Do I trust an AG with a tremendous incentive to lie, or librarians who actually had tremendous incentive to answer the question the other way. I mean, I would imagine that the DOJ is sparing no expense to determine who the terrorist librarians were.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:53 AM on September 18, 2003


Unfortunately, given that librarians are forbidden by law to acknowledge demands for information under the Patriot Act, we will have no means to verify Ashcroft's claims.

Oh, how true that is. And, as an employee of a public library, let me assure you that no FBI agents have ever questioned me. No representative of the FBI has ever asked for the history of a patron. Ever.
Do you people understand what I am trying to say here? Do you truly see how patriotic I am? If not, I'll repeat myself.
As an employee of a public library, let me assure you that no FBI agents have ever questioned me. No representative of the FBI has ever asked for the history of a patron from any of the employees here. Ever.

Let freedom ring.
posted by bradth27 at 10:34 AM on September 18, 2003


bradth27, are you saying you've had to talk to the FBI? Just blink once for yes and twice for no.
posted by soyjoy at 10:54 AM on September 18, 2003


If this provision had been used zero times, why the posturing? I suspect that what we're going to hear is on the order of:

"Yeah, the FBI has questioned employees at 85 or so libraries, but it was under the auspices of different provisions in the PATRIOT Act, so technically we've officially used this provision zero times."

Hair-splitting at its finest.
posted by FormlessOne at 12:17 PM on September 18, 2003


A study from U of I seems to contradict the claim by Ashcroft that they never used this new power.
What never?
No Never!
What never?
Well, harrrrrrrdly ever!
posted by ahimsakid at 1:44 PM on September 18, 2003


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