September 19, 2003


Government Says It Has Yet to Use New Power to Check Library Records (ERIC LICHTBLAU, September 19, 2003, NY Times)

After months of increasingly noisy protests, fears of Big Brother run amok and government warnings about needless "hysteria," the Justice Department gave its first public accounting today of how many times it had used its newfound counterterrorism powers to demand records from libraries and elsewhere.

The answer is zero.

This illustrates the degree to which Ashcroft the jack-booted Ahab is a figment of the fevered imaginations of the Left and libertarian Right. Where they see a repressed and repressive weirdo, eager to comb through their personal lives, is in fact a career civil libertarian reluctantly requesting extraordinary powers for use exclusively to protect the national security.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 19, 2003 2:14 PM

Back in 1998 when McCain had his soak the tobacco company bill before Congress, Ashcroft deliberated and came out against it saying "This bill is nothing more than a big government boondoggle cloaked in the language of 'protecting children."

He also said at the time it would align the interests of the government with the tobacco companies because it would want the revenues that came from the settlement.

Needless to say, the left interpreted that as him being pro-tobacco.

Posted by: Kevin Murphy at September 19, 2003 2:24 PM

Out here in Portland, Oregon, (land of the admitted Al-Queda 7) our librarians have stated on the top-rated local talk show that they will under no circumstances turn over patron records to the FBI. Even when it was pointed out that banks and phone companies do this when law enforcement has a warrant.

Posted by: Brian Boys at September 19, 2003 2:36 PM

It will be interesting watching librarians - especially warrior Oregon librarians - taking on the feds investigating terrorists.
Not even a close match.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at September 19, 2003 6:45 PM

I wonder if their position is so clear that they would prefer a 9/11 take place rather than be aborted by a federal investigation that violated the terrorists rights under the laws of our nation? How pure that would be in the world of the mind.

Posted by: genecis at September 19, 2003 8:27 PM

What in the world COULD terrorist suspects check out of a public library, that would be dangerous ?
Libraries don't carry bomb-making manuals, although you could get US Army publications, if you're interested in small-arms tactics.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 20, 2003 3:22 AM

Michael states that, "Libraries don't carry bomb-making manuals..." Hmmm...I wonder how many Oregon or San Fran or Seattle libraries offer Abbe Hoffman's "Steal This Book?" Gee, do ya think? If just for the "historical value?" It's got directions for Molitov cocktails and other bombs. I suspect there are other books like it.

Posted by: Brian McKim at September 20, 2003 5:35 AM

and libraries have those new-fangled computers with internet access. kinda anonymous way to send messages to your friends and relations doncha know without your really owning or being tied to the thang.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at September 20, 2003 9:00 AM


Sad indeed if you need a manual for constructing and operating a Molotov cocktail.


But how would you document and track such use, without a previously installed program ? I've used public computers before, without having to show any ID.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 20, 2003 11:25 PM

If we haven't used it, then it obviously is not essential to the war on terror. It's a frivolous denial of our rights for no benefit whatsoever. An increase in government power for no reason. It should be deleted from law immediately.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at September 22, 2003 1:50 PM

We haven't used nukes yet or guns in the cockpit or any number of other resources--wanna cash them all in?

Posted by: oj at September 22, 2003 2:01 PM