Contact: Patrice McDermott, Deputy Director
202-628-8410 x. 209
August 2, 2004
For Immediate Release
ALA welcomes Department of Justice decision to rescind destruction request
WASHINGTON, DC - The American Library Association (ALA) today welcomed the Department of Justice's decision to rescind its request that the Government Printing Office Superintendent of Documents instruct depository libraries to destroy all copies of five Department of Justice publications addressing forfeiture. The Justice Department claimed that the documents are "training materials and other materials that the Department of Justice staff did not feel were appropriate for external use." ALA disagreed with this categorization of the public documents, two of which are texts of federal statutes, and with the instruction to destroy them. ALA trusts that there will be no repetition of such unjustified instructions to destroy government information.
Michael Gorman, President-Elect of the American Library Association, said, "We had concerns about the Department of Justice request to destroy documents that have been in the public domain for four years. To obtain an official rationale from the Department of Justice about the nature of these public documents, the American Library Association submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the withdrawn materials, which will now be moot." Carol Brey-Casiano, President of the American Library Association added, "Our only interest in this issue is that we want to ensure that public documents remain available to the public."
The topics addressed in the named documents include information on how citizens can retrieve items that may have been confiscated by the government during an investigation. The documents that were to be removed and destroyed include: Civil and Criminal Forfeiture Procedure; Select Criminal Forfeiture Forms; Select Federal Asset Forfeiture Statutes; Asset forfeiture and money laundering resource directory; and Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA).