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Rich writes "AP reports that the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform and the Free Congress Foundation formed a new coalition called the Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances to lobby Congress to repeal three key provisions of the USA Patriot Act. "The coalition wants to repeal or let expire prosecutors' Patriot Act ability to obtain records in terrorism-related cases from businesses and other entities, icluding libraries..."
The Reader's Shop writes "mailtribune.com reports Librarians and Robert Jordan, FBI special agent, met at Southern Oregon University for a forum called "Libraries, Censorship and the Internet in the Era of the Patriot Act. Participants discussed the extent of the laws provisions and the likelihood that "investigative incursions into private records are likely to get much more aggressive if thereâ€™s another big terrorist attack". Gag rules included in the bill were also discussed as well as other topics including exactly what kind of authority FBI agents need to access library records."
Anonymous Patron writes "Quad-City Times Newspaper Online (Davenport,IA) has an interesting article on a "terrible choice" faced by Bettendorf public library director Faye Clow.She was asked by the Quad-City chapter of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union to put up warning signs near library materials. While she, and most librarians, believe fiercely in privacy and confidentiality, she also believes libraries should be politically neutral."
search-engines-web.com writes "westernfrontonline.com reports: After not disclosing library patrons' privacy to the FBI, the Whatcom County Library System received the 2004 Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award.Amory Peck, chair of the board of trustees for the library system, accepted the award at a reception in Boston Jan. 15. The award was given by faculty of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois. It was given for the library's choosing not to release subpoenaed records after a Deming library patron found hand-written text in a book quoting Osama bin Laden and contacted the FBI.The award is presented annually to acknowledge individuals or groups who further the cause of intellectual freedom, said Marlo Weshons, assistant dean for the office of communication and publications at the University of IllinoisA History of Previous Winners"
Carol Terry writes "ALA's Washington Office Newsline, Jan. 5, 2005, reports that ALA has "initiated a set of surveys to assess the impact of the USA PATRIOT act on America's libraries and library patrons." Results are to be presented at the 2005 conference in Chicago. ALA.org Has More"
John Ashcroft may be headed for retirement, but Section 215 of the Patriot Act, passed in the wake of 9/11, remains in force.
Here from Bookselling This Week is a reminder from the Campaign for Reader Privacy about the ensuing battle to make changes to the act to ensure privacy. ALA, ABA, and AAP are some of the groups involved.
AshtabulaGuy writes "A critical US cabinet officer who impacts librarians every day resigned. Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, responsible for the Census Bureau, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the National Weather Service, and more resigned. His administration prepares and provides tons of information resources to librarians that are used by reference librarians and catalogers alike during the course of their work. Through the NTIA much Internet policy is set and much of the Internet's future is plotted. Oh. And Attorney General John Ashcroft resigned too. Former General Counsel and current Deputy Secretary of Commerce Theodore W. Kassinger will assume control of the US Department of Commerce between the taking effect of the resignation by Evans and the confirmation of a successor. Likewise Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey will assume control of the US Department of Justice in the interim between the Ashcroft resignation taking effect and the confirmation of a successor. It is not yet known who will be nominated as successors. Statements from the White House:
President Thanks Secretary Ashcroft President Thanks Secretary Evans"
FOX TV is reporting that Ashcroft will resign his post, possibly in January. CNN is reporting two weeks.
Thereâ€™s also talk of Colin Powell leaving the Bush team.
Bush will be holding a press conference momentarily.
Republican Tim Michels accused U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold of repeatedly turning his back on homeland security Friday night in the first debate between the two, singling out the incumbent's vote against the Patriot Act that expanded police powers to fight terrorism. ... Feingold said he voted against the bill after looking at it closely and seeing that allowed the government to monitor computer use, look at library records and get into people's homes without just cause.
ChuckB writes "Orin Kerr, a Fourth Amendment scholar blogging at the Volokh Conspiracy, notes that the mainstream media are reporting on Judge Victor Marrero's ruling on the "national security letter" provision of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act as if it were a blow against the Patriot Act:
As I noted in my post below, a recent decision of the Southern District of New York struck down part of a 1986 law known as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. How does the press report the decision? No mention of the 1986 law, of course. Instead, the press is reporting that the court struck down a major part of the Patriot Act, in a blow to the Bush Administration's overzealous response to terrorism. As I trace the history of the statute, this is quite inaccurate: the basic law was implemented in 1986, almost 20 years ago. To be fair, the Patriot Act did amend some language in this section; just not in a relevant way. As best I can tell, the court's decision does not rely on or even address anything in the Patriot Act. (See page 14-22 of the Court's opinion for the details of the statute's history.)