I have been opposed to the Patriot Act ever since its inception. Here is just another news item to support that view. Proponents of the Patriot Act would have you believe that it is only used for “safety” purposes and only targets suspicious behavior. First of all, who gets to define what constitutes “suspicious” behavior? How often have governments in the past abused their access to such private information regarding their citizens? While not downplaying the threat of terrorism, I am much more likely by the order of many magnitudes to die in a car accident than as the result of a terrorist action. I am inclined to agree with Franklin’s sentiments about those who are willing to give up freedom for security deserve neither. Anyway, here are some highlights from the news story.
A member of the American Library Association has sued the Justice Department to challenge an FBI demand for records, but the USA Patriot Act prohibits the plaintiff from publicly disclosing its identity or other details of the dispute, according to court documents released Thursday.
I have subscribed to the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) newsletters for the last several years. It seems that librarians are doing more to try to protect our fundamental privacies than the average citizen is. This is not the first case of a librarian bucking the feds over an overly invasive search of a patron’s browsing records. Gee, how convenient for the feds that we “merely” ordinary citizens can’t even know what the dispute is over.
Justice Department and FBI officials have repeatedly declined to identify how many times Patriot Act-related powers have been used to seek or obtain information from libraries, but they have strongly urged Congress not to limit their ability to do so.
No doubt they do this because the results would show that overwhelmingly their “fishing” excursions are less than useful and further erode the original freedoms, privacies, and liberties that we used to enjoy.
The lawsuit, originally filed under seal in Connecticut on Aug. 9, focuses on the FBI’s use of a document called a “national security letter,” which allows investigators to demand records without the approval of a judge and to prohibit companies or institutions from disclosing the request. (emphasis mine) Restrictions on the FBI’s ability to use NSLs were loosened under the Patriot Act.
Wow, they get to act as judge, jury, and executioner. How fortuitous! This is very similar to other provisions of the unPatriot Act where LEO can search your home and computer while you are not present and they don’t even have to notify you at the time. “Fourth Amendment, what Fourth Amendment?”, chuckled George as the Patriot Act was made into law. He was further heard to say, “Hell, I can’t even count past three- that damned Bill of Rights and Constitutional guarantees crap just confuses me. It’s much easier just to ignore it.”
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said during Senate testimony in April that the Justice Department “has no interest in rummaging through the library records or medical records of Americans” but that “libraries should not become safe havens” for terrorists or other criminals.
Gonzales said at the time that the FBI had never asked for records under a provision of the Patriot Act known by critics as the “library provision,” which allows the government to demand records from a variety of businesses, including libraries, in intelligence probes.
But that provision is separate from the one that governs the kind of letter used in the Connecticut case.
As he crossed his fingers behind his back. What a bunch of lying thieves! Well, hopefully, the neo-cons are on the wane and we will see the return of true conservatives who are interested in reining in Big Brother and protecting the rights and freedoms of individuals.