Thursday, June 16, 2005

Three cheers for the librarians!

Chalk one up for the American Library Association. They have been railing against clauses in the USA PATRIOT Act since its passage, and they appear to have won a big victory with the House's passage 238-187 yesterday of Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) amendment to the appropriations bill for the Justice Department. The amendment will bar the Justice Department from implementing Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act to search library and bookstore records.

"The simple truth is that the FBI could spy on a person because they don't like the books she reads, or because she wrote a letter to the editor critical of a governmental policy," Sanders said. "Parents want to know that just because their kid is researching the life of Osama bin Laden...that that fact should not place the student on a government list or make anyone think that he/she is sympathetic to terrorism."

White House spokespersons had previously indicated that President Bush would veto any bill that weakens the USA PATRIOT Act. On the other hand, Bush has been so ineffective in his second term that he is already being referred to as a lame duck, with three and a half years remaining in his term; does he really have the power to take on librarians?

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