[Libs-Or] Senate Judiciary Committee passes weakened S. 1692

Diedre Conkling diedre08 at gmail.com
Tue Oct 13 15:36:50 PDT 2009

 Senate Judiciary Committee passes weakened S. 1692
<http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?p=3880> October 13th, 2009 |
Category: Grassroots Lobbying<http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?cat=20>,
OGR <http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?cat=17>

With three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act set to expire on December 31,
2009, the Senate began the process of reauthorization legislation in
September, beginning with the introduction of, S. 1686, the JUSTICE
by Senators Feingold (D-WI) and Durban (D-IL).   Chairman Leahy
and Sens. Cardin* *and Kaufman introduced. S. 1692, the USA PATRIOT Act
Sunset Extension Act of
a bill to reauthorize the expiring provisions on September 22, 2009.   The
three sections scheduled to sunset include Section 215 on “business records”
often referred to as the “library provision.”

Hours before the first scheduled
October 1st, a bill negotiated by Sens. Patrick Leahy (VT-D) and
Feinstein (CA-D) was substituted in place of the original S. 1692, the USA
PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act of 2009, introduced by Leahy on September
22.  Although there was no public statement of support, it was clear that
behind the scenes the White House and/or the Department of Justice knew
about, and likely supported, the “Feinstein” version of S. 1692.

Although several senators attempted a number of amendments, none of the
amendments that would have improved protection of our civil liberties was
passed.  Senators Feingold and Durbin should be thanked for their repeated
attempts to improve S. 1692 and to argue for protecting our constitution
rights. The substitute bill substantially weakened the reforms the library
community has sought relevant to Sec. 215 and national security letters.

There is a provision<http://judiciary.senate.gov/legislation/upload/HEN09A06.pdf>in
the amended version of S. 1692 that slightly raises the legal standard
obtain a Section 215 order for “library circulation records or patron lists”
– a very narrow definition.  This “fix” does not address “reader privacy” as
a whole, so unfortunately bookstores are not covered in this provision.
Further, the provision only addresses 215 orders and does nothing for
increasing the legal standards for national security letters which are far
more troubling.  The substitute “Feinstein” bill was passed by the Judiciary
Committee with an 11 to 8 vote at the second markup on October 8th.

It is unclear when the bill will go to the Senate floor for a final vote.
Both the health care legislation and financial reform proposals are
supposedly in the agenda queue ahead of S. 1692.  However, with the December
31st sunset deadline, there needs to be a vote within the next two months.
ALA is monitoring the Senate activities and has started to work with allies
in the House and with our coalitions to develop a better House bill.  Stay

For more detailed reports see these sources:

   - Previous ALA reports in District Dispatch<http://mail.google.com/?cat=10>
   - President of the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), Leslie
   Harris’ blog<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leslie-harris/obama-versus-obama-on-the_b_315638.html>
   - News report<http://www.timesargus.com/article/20091012/NEWS01/910120338/1002>on
Vermont librarians comments on Leahy’s actions and his response.

Next steps: full Senate and House of Representatives


Diedre Conkling
Lincoln County Library District
P.O. Box 2027
Newport, OR  97365
Work phone & fax:  541-265-3066
Work email:  diedre at beachbooks.org
Home email:  diedre08 at gmail.com
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