I’m feeling fretful (what’s the emoticon for that?) about my country’s civil liberties. Along with all the hullabaloo about other problems, this story made me even more concerned. The story focuses on the stipulation that librarians were barred from telling others that patrons’ records had been reviewed, and that gagging is important. But, don’t forget the first part of, that the records were reviewed.
Four Connecticut librarians who had been barred from revealing that they had received a request for patrons’ records from the federal government spoke out yesterday, expressing frustration about the sweeping powers given to law enforcement authorities by the USA Patriot Act.
The librarians took turns at the microphone at their lawyers’ office and publicly identified themselves as the collective John Doe who had sued the United States attorney general after their organization received a confidential demand for patron records in a secret counterterrorism case. They had been ordered, under the threat of prosecution, not to talk about the request with anyone. The librarians, who all have leadership roles at a small consortium called Library Connection in Windsor, Conn., said they opposed allowing the government unchecked power to demand library records and were particularly incensed at having been subject to the open-ended nondisclosure order.
“I’m John Doe, and if I had told you before today that the F.B.I. was requesting library records, I could have gone to jail,” said one of the four, Peter Chase, a librarian from Plainville who is on the executive committee of Library Connection’s board.
Link to the NY Times story.