Librarians, U.S. attorneys squaring off

Anonymous Patron writes about this Chicago Sun Times story,

"That loud "Shhhhh!" you hear Monday may be the sound of 25,000 librarians reacting to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's defense of the government's right to confiscate people's library records.

Fitzgerald, like many U.S. attorneys around the country, has become a roving defender of the USA Patriot Act and its most controversial provision allowing federal investigators to seize people's library records.

Chief among the critics of that provision, passed in the nervous days after 9/11, is the American Library Association, which is meeting in Chicago this weekend...""

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Sun Times not the Tribune

Urgh. I was referring to the linked article from the Sun Times as well. (The Tribune works fine, too, but requires registration.) Sorry for any confusion.

Oh puhleeeze....

Oh, lets take ourselves seriously here. The US Attorney’s office really doesn’t give a damn what a bunch of librarians think. Heck few people care what librarians think, otherwise we would be the respected, well paid professionals we aspire to be. In reality the general public couldn’t spot the librarians in the library and thinks of circulation clerks and shelvers when they think of librarians.


Having the ACLU side with the ALA on privacy rights really adds no strength to the ALA’s case. The ACLU who whores out your information the second you join and who has staffers busily shredding things contrary to their own policies, sure they can talk the talk, but as they demonstrate they can’t walk the walk.


The ALA just does not get it. No one, not even the US Attorney cares what books you check out, and since there is not a “Popular Terrorist� magazine they don’t care what periodicals you have been leafing through either. They do care if library computers are used in furtherance of a criminal act. Apparently Osama does not budget for computers so his lackeys have to rely on public computers. While some data on the computer is lost when it is powered off, some remains on the hard drive. As time goes on the data may be overwritten so delay in retrieving it may be detrimental to data integrity.


As it is known that terrorists who attacked the US used public computers for communication we must assume that they will be used again for that purpose. The safety of our nation is paramount. While Gorman is right we don’t keep track of what books you check out (once they are returned) or what Internet sites you visit, the public computer you use does keep information from patron to patron in the on the hard disk, not to entrap people but simply because it was not designed not to. If giving a reasonably suspicious law enforcement officer access to the hard drive of a library computer helps maintain the safety of our nation then I am all for it.


Remember that law enforcement does not need any suspicion, subpoena, or court order to take books out of the library and finger print them or swab them for DNA or submit them to other scientific analysis, they just need a library card. Let that keep you awake at night you conspiracy theorists.

Oh, and to read the Chicago Tribune article you must use MSIE, it just blinks in Opera and Firefox.

Re:Oh puhleeeze....

Stepping carefully around the topic at hand to respond to the technical issue of the Chicago Tribune site and browsers: FYI, On my PowerBook running OS X 10.3.9, the Tribune article looks fine on both Firefox 1.0.4 and Safari 1.3. (I don't have MSIE with which to compare.) It is far less noisome on Firefox, however, as I have AdBlock installed.

Re:Oh puhleeeze....

Well it was really my error as it wasn't the Tribune I was kvetching about, but the Sun Times. I was looking at the linked article, but simply perhaps by wishful thinking put the wrong paper's name.

Re:Oh puhleeeze....

The ACLU who whores out your information the second you join and who has staffers busily shredding things contrary to their own policies, sure they can talk the talk, but as they demonstrate they can’t walk the walk.

And, of course, you have documentary evidence to back up these wild and baseless accusations from someone who hates the ACLU for making sure other people's rights are treated just as importantly as his, right?

Something like a Downing Street Memo; a report from an inside intelligence official; a report from any reputable outside source; anything at all?

Remember that law enforcement does not need any suspicion, subpoena, or court order [...], they just need a library card.

Quite correct, but, you see, that only proves that they don't need S.215.

Re:Oh puhleeeze....

I'm sure you missed this at Alternet.

The American Civil Liberties Union has been shredding some documents over the repeated objections of its records manager and in conflict with its longstanding policies on the preservation and disposal of records.

The matter has fueled a dispute at the organization over internal operations, one of several such debates over the last couple of years, and has reignited questions over whether the A.C.L.U.'s own practices are consistent with its public positions.

The organization has generally advocated for strong policies on record retention and benefited from them, most recently obtaining and publicizing documents from the government about prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The debate over the use of shredders is reminiscent of one late last year over the organization's efforts to collect a wide variety of data on its donors, even as it criticizes corporations and government agencies for accumulating personal data as a violation of privacy rights....

(Concerns Arise at A.C.L.U. Over Document Shredding, New York Times 06/5/2005)

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