Santa Cruz, California, is among the first library systems in the nation to warn patrons about the ramifications of the PATRIOT Act. Signs to be posted at library branches in Santa Cruz County and on the library Web site will inform people that records of books and other materials borrowed from the library may be obtained by federal agents.
Librarians in other communities have decided against warning signs, for fear the signs might have a \"chilling effect\" on library use. Here, library board members concluded the Patriot Act has a \"chilling effect\" of its own and that the public has a right to know.
Here\'s The Full, Chilly, Story, and One On Santa Cruz, California, area booksellers, who say they are keeping traceable information at a minimum. That’s good news for civil rights advocates, who say people shouldn’t have to worry about \"The Anarchist Cookbook\" they picked up on a whim or the history of Hamas they bought a friend for Christmas.
They say Committees to Defend the Bill of Rights exist in about 150 municipalities and counties around the country, and so far 36 cities, towns or counties have passed resolutions in defense of the Bill of Rights.
"So many people are understandably frightened by the risk of terrorist attacks that they are all too willing to believe they will be safer if the president just passes another anti-terror law," he said. "They lose sight of what they're giving up."
In this story in The Nation, author David Cole talks about recently leaked plans for a next-generation Patriot Act called the Domestic Security Enhancement Act (DSEA). Here are a few chilling quotes from his article:
If the Patriot Act was so named to imply that those who question its sweeping new powers of surveillance, detention and prosecution are traitors, the DSEA takes that theme one giant step further. It provides that any citizen, even native-born, who supports even the lawful activities of an organization the executive branch deems "terrorist" is presumptively stripped of his or her citizenship....
They would then be subject to the deportation power, which the DSEA would expand to give the Attorney General the authority to deport any noncitizen whose presence he deems a threat to our "national defense, foreign policy or economic interests." One federal court of appeals has already ruled that this standard is not susceptible to judicial review. So this provision would give the Attorney General unreviewable authority to deport any noncitizen he chooses, with no need to prove that the person has engaged in any criminal or harmful conduct....
The bill would authorize secret arrests, a practice common in totalitarian regimes but never before authorized in the United States. It would terminate court orders barring illegal police spying entered before September 11, 2001, without regard to the need for judicial supervision. It would allow secret government wiretaps and searches without even a warrant from the supersecret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when Congress has authorized the use of force. And it would give the government the same access to credit reports as private companies, without judicial supervision....
Concern over violation of privacy as a result of the war on terrorism has prompted U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other representatives to propose a bill that will limit the FBI's power to seize information on library withdrawals and bookstore purchases. Here's The Full Story.
"While we need to focus on terrorism as much as possible, I believe we can do that without throwing the Bill of Rights in the garbage can," Sanders said. "Librarians are telling me that if people who go to libraries feel that the government is keeping a file with the names of the books that they are reading, it will have a chilling effect on intellectual curiosity."
Robert Teeter sent over This LA Times editorial on the USA Patriot Act, Section 215.
They point out that provision allows FBI agents to demand from any bookstore or public library its records of the books or tapes a customer has bought or borrowed. The repugnant assumption underlying Section 215 is that we are what we read, that someone who buys a biography of Osama bin Laden may in fact support Bin Laden -- or even act on his behalf.
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Richmond California condemns Patriot Act, Predicting a stunning erosion of civil liberties, the City Council on Tuesday condemned the Bush administration's U.S. Patriot Act and affirmed support for the Bill of Rights.
This One Says Three U.S. senators have introduced legislation to enhance congressional oversight and public reporting of the FBI's domestic surveillance efforts, including the agency's efforts to monitor Internet activity by Americans. Carrying a torch for Liberty takes a look from Canada.
The bad news is FBI's new spy powers upheld by judge, The FBI does not have to explain why it applied for search warrants to bug homes and tap phones of defendants in a terrorism case, a federal judge ruled Wednesday in an early test of the government's new and expanded spying powers.
Some In The Senate do seem to be paying attention though.
Madeline Douglass and Michael Nellis both sent over This One on A St. John\'s College Library user, Andrew J. O\'Conner, who arrested computer terminal he was using. He was handcuffed and brought him to the Santa Fe, New Mexico, police station for questioning by Secret Service agents from Albuquerque.
The agents accused him of making threatening remarks about President George W. Bush in an Internet chat room.
Yet Another Story on the Patriot Act and libraries.
This one says it is within public libraries, founded with the guidance of Benjamin Franklin, that the Patriot Act seems to be assailed most vehemently. Librarians are concerned that a tradition of confidentiality will be trampled because of overzealousness by the government.
"Some booksellers are troubled by a post-Sept. 11 federal law that gives the government broad powers to seize the records of bookstores and libraries to find out what people have been reading."
"Bear Pond Books in Montpelier will purge purchase records for customers if they ask, and it has already dumped the names of books bought by its readers' club."
"When the CIA comes and asks what you've read because they're suspicious of you, we can't tell them because we don't have it," store co-owner Michael Katzenberg said. "That's just a basic right, to be able to read what you want without fear that somebody is looking over your shoulder to see what you're reading." (from AP)
"In the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, FBI agents armed with warrants made visits to the Paterson, N.J., Public Library and took away two computers provided for the public. They apparently hoped to scan the hard drives for clues to the activities of three hijackers with ties to the city."
"The incident made few headlines, but it turned out to be the tip of a domestic surveillance iceberg. Last June, a University of Illinois survey said local or federal authorities had asked 85 libraries across the country for information about patrons."
"That the survey found so many is a surprise: The USA Patriot Act, passed in October 2001, made it illegal for librarians to tell anyone about FBI library raids." (from Law.com)