Sunday, December 18, 2005

NEW TERRORIST THREAT!!! "Radical Militant Librarians"

'While radical militant librarians kick us around, true terrorists benefit from Office of Intelligence Policy and Review's failure to let us use the tools given to us'

Washington - Some agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been frustrated by what they see as the Justice Department's reluctance to let them demand records and to use other far-ranging investigative measures in terrorism cases, newly disclosed e-mail messages and internal documents show.

Publicly, the debate over the law known as the USA Patriot Act has focused on concerns from civil rights advocates that the F.B.I. has gained too much power to use expanded investigative tools to go on what could amount to fishing

But the newly disclosed e-mail messages offer a competing view, showing that, privately, some F.B.I. agents have felt hamstrung by their inability to get approval for using new powers under the Patriot Act, which was passed weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

One internal F.B.I. message, sent in October 2003, criticized the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review at the Justice Department, which reviews and approves terrorist warrants, as regularly blocking requests from the F.B.I. to use a section of the antiterrorism law that gave the bureau broader authority to demand records from institutions like banks, Internet providers and libraries.

'While radical militant librarians kick us around, true terrorists benefit from OIPR's failure to let us use the tools given to us,' read the e-mail message, which was sent by an unidentified F.B.I. official. 'This should be an OIPR priority!!!'"


Blogger elizabeth said...

Ah, can the blog's resident librarian take a minute off from slapping FBI agents around to say, "Well done!" and "Tee hee!" Seriously, we had a fantastic discussion on our class board last semester about whether library patrons should or should not have an expectation of privacy for their records in a PUBLIC library; the primary person I engaged with in this discussion was a lobbyist in DC for a coalition of police chiefs, but she was by no means any kind of knee jerk defender of the Patriot Act. We had sane and well-reasoned discussions on it all the way around, and I only wish time and lack of computer problems had made it possible for me to pull those discussions down and save them, but as it was I barely got my class sessions saved. Anyway. Her position was that it seemed out of turn for patrons to have expectation of privacy in a PUBLIC setting and cited numerous legal instances where that doesn't hold, (even doctor/patient privilege doesn't hold if they communicate in a public place and it's overheard by a third party.) BUT my argument back was essentially that we're not talking about conversation, we're talking about recorded information, of the sort that is normally considered personal, and that if you have no expectation of privacy even when you dispense that stuff out to a merchant or service person in a public setting, then we all better stop writing checks at the grocery store, in restaurants, at the shoe shop, etc. You have an expectation that the next person in line can't just demand to see what was on your check and have the merchant show it to them; why indeed, without some kind of probable cause, should the government have any more right to do the same? We may not have a constitutional right to this kind of privacy protection, but you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't feel a personal sense of violation when a boundary like this is crossed. My point is, there MUST BE expectations of privacy that carry over into the public sphere; if there weren't, there'd be no way we could conduct business publicly or live or function or go on our daily way. Without having some functional RIGHTS of privacy within the public sphere we'd all have to stay at home and be paranoid all the time and shroud ourselves in a virtual purdah. The upshot of having no privacy in public is that society as we know it would just have to stop. So you can't use this to get at patron records just because it's more interesting to know what somebody's reading than what they're eating, and by saying that's public and the money-changing check info is private. The patron record in checking out the book is in every substantive way like the check-passing exchange, except that it's not being sanctified by money. It has the temerity and bad taste to be FREE, which probably further sticks in some capitalist craw somewhere. HA! I feel some FBI agent calling to me for some more smackies again.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 8:27:00 PM  

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