[Libs-Or] Fwd: [ifrt] Press Release: Book Groups Launch New Effort to Amend Patriot Act

Diedre Conkling diedre08 at gmail.com
Tue Apr 7 11:01:16 PDT 2009

The next step in the Patriot Act?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Nanette Perez <nperez at ala.org>
Date: Tue, Apr 7, 2009 at 9:36 AM
Subject: [ifrt] Press Release: Book Groups Launch New Effort to Amend
Patriot Act
To: ifaction at ala.org, ala-ifc at ala.org, ifrt-b at ala.org, ifrt at ala.org


For information contact:        Oren Teicher (ABA), 800-637-0037, ext. 6611

                                                Lynne Bradley (ALA),

                                                Judith Platt (AAP),

                                                Larry Siems (PEN),
212-334-1660, ext. 105


*            Washington, DC, April 7, 2009 – *Organizations representing
booksellers, librarians, publishers, and writers today launched the latest
phase in their five-year campaign to restore the reader privacy safeguards
that were stripped away by the USA Patriot Act.  Since 2003, the Department
of Justice has used its expanded power under the Patriot Act to issue more
than 200 secret search orders under Section 215 and more than 190,000
National Security Letters (NSLs).  Despite several efforts to reform the
Patriot Act, the FBI can still search any records it believes are “relevant”
to a terrorism investigation, including the records of people who are not
suspected of criminal conduct.

            Because Patriot Act orders bar recipients from revealing their
existence, it is impossible to know how many have been served on bookstores
and libraries.  However, in a memo to Congress released today, the Campaign
for Reader Privacy observed that there have been at least three significant
and disturbing attempts to obtain records from libraries since 2003.  In
2004, the FBI issued a subpoena to a library in rural Washington State
demanding a list of patrons who had checked out a biography of Osama bin
Laden.  It sent NSLs to libraries seeking Internet records for two people in
2005 and 2007.  All three of the orders were withdrawn after they were
challenged by librarians.

            The broad authority granted to the FBI by the Patriot Act
represents a serious threat to intellectual freedom.  An essential part of
the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech is the freedom to
explore ideas and seek information without fear of government scrutiny.  But
the Patriot Act weakened the confidentiality protections for these records
and raised fears that the FBI could circumvent constitutional checks on

This danger has been confirmed by the Inspector General of the Justice
Department.  In a 2008 report to Congress, the Inspector General said that
in one case the FBI had done an end-run around the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance (FISA) Court after the court had denied approval for a search
that threatened the First Amendment rights of the target.  Twice refused a
Section 215 order by the court, the FBI used its authority to issue an NSL
without court approval for the same information, an action that was
criticized by the Inspector General.

            Section 215, which has already been extended once, is scheduled
to expire at the end of the year.  However, Republicans in the House of
Representative have introduced legislation extending it and two other
Patriot Act provisions for another 10 years.  FBI Director Robert Mueller
recently called on Congress to extend the three expiring provisions.

            The Campaign for Reader Privacy does not oppose the extension of
Section 215, *per se*, but seeks to exempt bookstore and library records
from its provisions.  Without Section 215, the government would be required
to seek a grand jury subpoena for such records.

            The Campaign also supports legislation that would restrict the
use of Section 215 orders and NSLs to searches targeting suspected
terrorists or people who are known to them.  Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI)
and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) introduced this legislation in the previous
Congress. Nadler reintroduced the National Security Letters Reform Act (H.R.
1800) on March 30, and Feingold is expected to introduce a bill later.

            The Campaign’s Congressional memo, “Restoring the Safeguards for
Reader Privacy,” is available online at


Rebecca L. Zeidel, Program Director

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

275 Seventh Avenue

15th Floor

New York, NY 10001

Phone: (212) 587-4025, ext. 13

Fax: (212) 587-2436

E-mail: rebecca at abffe.com



Diedre Conkling
diedre08 at gmail.com
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://omls.oregon.gov/pipermail/libs-or/attachments/20090407/2e6650e6/attachment.html>

More information about the Libs-Or mailing list