Thursday, June 01, 2006

Musings 148--Gagged but not silenced!

The FBI has sent out thousands of National Security Letters (NSL) to libraries throughout the USA. These letters enable the feds to obtain records of folks that are not suspected of any wrong doing. There is no court order involved, and the libraries that get the NSL are bound by law--or gagged--not to say that they have received said letter.

According to a news story on, four librarians in Connecticut have filed suit with the aid of the ACLU challenging the Patriot Act. To them it is a first amendment case as well as a privacy issue.

This is quoted from the RawStory piece: The foursome of Barbara Bailey, Peter Chase, George Christian, and Jan Nocek were automatically gagged from disclosing that they had received the letter, the contents of the letter, and even from discussions surrounding the Patriot Act.

The librarians, via the national and Connecticut branches of the ACLU, filed suit challenging the Patriot Act on first amendment grounds.

"People ask about private and confidential things in the library about their health, their family issues and related books they take out...these are confidential and we did this to protect our patrons from authorized snooping," said Peter Chase, Vice President of Library Connection."

On September 9 of last year, a federal judge lifted the gag order and rejected the government's argument that identifying the plaintiff would pose a threat to national security.

Assistant Attorney General William Moschella told members of Congress 9,245 NSL's were sent out in 2005. This is according to an ABC News Report.

Now you might say that 9,245 are a little more than a few. You might say...that. These librarians are courageous in their stance. Even though gagged, they still were able to speak volumes.


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