The Reader's Shop writes On Friday, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act. The House passed it's version earlier this month. The Senate bill would require the federal government to report how the provisions are used to view library and medical records. The ability to go to a secret court for permission to seize records from libraries and bookstores will renew for 4 years under the Senate bill. The house bill has a 10 year sunset for this provision.
The Senate and House bills must be reconciled before a final measure can be sent to Bush. Congressional officials said they were confident that they could work out a compromise.
More on the story can be found here
One From The Denver Post on a move by the Denver Public Library this week that has inserted itself into the national political debate over the USA Patriot Act.On Monday, the library strung, between its east pillars, white plastic tape with large letters reading: "Privacy Line - Do Not Cross." Smaller text read, "Stop Secret Searches - ACLU - ReformthePatriotAct.org."
Unfortunately, some of my congressional colleagues referenced the recent London bombings during the debate, insinuating that opponents of the Patriot Act somehow would be responsible for a similar act here at home. I wonâ€™t even dignify that slur with the response it deserves. Letâ€™s remember that London is the most heavily monitored city in the world, with surveillance cameras recording virtually all public activity in the city center. British police officials are not hampered by our 4th amendment nor our numerous due process requirements. In other words, they can act without any constitutional restrictions, just as supporters of the Patriot Act want our own police to act. Despite this they were not able to prevent the bombings, proving that even a wholesale surveillance society cannot be made completely safe against determined terrorists. Congress misses the irony entirely. The London bombings donâ€™t prove the need for the Patriot Act, they prove the folly of it.
Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas."
The PATRIOT Act be makin' headlines. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared on on CNN's "Late Edition" and said "We cannot allow libraries and use of libraries to become safe havens for terrorists." He also also credited the USA Patriot Act with preventing a follow-up in the United States to the September 11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
The editorial pages are lit up with PATRIOT parrots, both for and against. Jim Dunn, in The Oregonian says it's very important to our country and law enforcement officials that we renew them. While the Seattle Post Intelligencer says "Freedom and fear are at war," the president declared on Sept. 11, 2001. That remains the case. And the House vote was a victory for fear.
A couple of other barely interesting articles floating around out there, KCBS Reports on California Congress Folks Representatives Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo) who gave it a thumbs down, calling it "worse than the first Patriot Bill," Michael points us to This Chicago Tribune and one on poposed changes in the Patriot Act that would set up safeguards for the nation's library patrons and let librarians seek legal help if federal investigators demand patrons' records, the head of Chicago's library system and U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said Sunday.
And finally, just one more, quotable editorila from The Times Tribune, "Openness as the â€˜defaultâ€™ position"
"The default position of our government must be openness. If records can be open they should be open. If good reason exists to keep secrets, it is the government that should bear the burden â€” not the other way around."
The Reader's Shop sends this "Reuters piece in which ALA President Michael Gorman calls the calls the "librarian" clause of the Patriot Act "Kafkaesque." Gorman compared the clause
to "50s and the "red scare". Gorman spoke of the government's rationale for the clause and it's possible effects on Libraries across the nation.
In a vote of 257-171 on Thursday July 21 the United States Congress reauthorized several elements of the Patriot Act, which were due to expire in 2006. Fourteen of the sixteen sections with "sunset clauses" were made permanent, and the other two were extended for ten years. The legislation now goes before the Senate. President Bush has expressed interest in the act being extended, and vows to pass any legislation that reaches his desk.
The Patriot Act was passed in late October 2001 and was aimed at preventing further terror attacks through expanded law enforcement powers. It is a controversial act which some claim violates citizens' constitutional rights. The final roll call tally can be located here.
Daniel writes "The ACLU launched a new blog last Friday promising USAPA reauthorization news and action alerts. The blog is called Reform the Patriot Act and can be found at http://blog.reformthepatriotact.org/.
In the spirit of free speech, this blog allows comments, so USAPA true believers can explain why USAPA needs no reform."
Kathleen writes "The U.S. Department of Justice used court orders three times in early 2004 to obtain documents from the Scottsdale Public Library containing reader account information, according to records released by the city."It seems to me a fairly fundamental American freedom to read what the hell you please without the government putting its fingers into it," said Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association. The federal grand jury subpoenas suggest they are connected to the investigation of a February 2004 mail bomb attack against Scottsdale Diversity director Don Logan.
Guess this was right after Ashcroft tried to discredit critics by stating " that the FBI has never used its expanded powers to obtain records from libraries and businesses."..but wait, this is a different law--a state law."
The Campaign for Reader Privacy needs your help! (information courtesy of The Campaign for Reader Privacy).
Tomorrow (Wednesday, July 13), the House of Representatives' Judiciary and Intelligence committees will separately consider legislation that reauthorizes the expiring sections of the USA PATRIOT Act, including Section 215.
It is critical to contact members of both committees today.
While we won an important battle last month, when the House voted to block funds for bookstore and library searches under Section 215, we said at the time that the real fight would be over the reauthorization. The bill pending before the Judiciary Committee, H.R. 3199, extends all of the expiring PATRIOT Act sections and must pass before the end of the year. As to the Intelligence Committee, we have not even been able to see the bill that will be reviewed tomorrow, and the meeting is being held in secret.
If you want to see changes in the Patriot Act, contact the members of these two committees today. Names and phone numbers are in the next section. House members who voted for the Freedom to Read Amendment, which cuts off funds for PATRIOT Act searches of bookstores and libraries, are indicated by an asterisk(*). -- Read More
From today's New York Times an article about the lack of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans on the matter of renewal of The Patriot Act.
House Democratic officials said Monday that while they were actively involved in negotiations on the original passage of the Patriot Act in October 2001, they felt shut out now.
"There's an incredible contrast this time around," said a senior Democratic aide on the House Judiciary Committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of political tensions surrounding the issue.
"This time, the Republicans have told us for some time they are working on a bill, they asked for our suggestions, and they ended up saying that none of our suggestions were acceptable," the aide said. "So they're now dropping a bill that we see as a total reauthorization of the Patriot Act with only very slight tweaks."