USA PATRIOT Act News

Former Library Connection "John Doe" testifies before Congress, (April 11, 2007; ALA Public Information Office)

Statement from ALA President Leslie Burger on Justice Dept. Investigation into FBI, NSLs, (March 8, 2007)

Response to DoJ Inspector General’s Report On FBI’s Use of National Security Letters, (March 9, 2007)

Statement from ALA President Leslie Burger on Justice Dept. Investigation into FBI, NSLs, (March 8, 2007)

Why the ADVISE Data-Mining Program May be Very Ill-Advised: Reports of Likely Privacy Violations Point to the Need to Mandate Specific Privacy Safeguards, By Anita Ramasastry (March 8, 2007; Findlaw)

Attorney General's Letter to the Inspector General, (PDF; March 1, 2007)

Responses to questions posed to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, following Director Mueller's appearance before the Committee on May 2, 2006. The subject of the Committee's hearing was "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation." The FBI submitted these responses for clearance on July 10, 2006. (PDF November 30, 2006)

Lawmakers Call for Limits on F.B.I. Power to Demand Records in Terrorism Investigations, (November 7, 2005): "Republicans and Democrats in Congress called on Sunday for greater restrictions on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's ability to demand business and personal records in terrorism investigations without a judge's approval and to retain the records indefinitely."

Ginsburg denies ACLU application, (PDF: October 7, 2005): Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has denied the ACLU application for emergency relief in Doe v. Gonzales, the Connecticut librarian's challenge to an NSL. The decision is attached. 

PATRIOT Act Showdown Looms, (October 5, 2005): The battle over the re-authorization of the expiring sections of the PATRIOT Act is expected to conclude during the week of October 17, when conferees meet to reconcile the bills passed by the House and Senate. House conferees will probably be chosen late this week. Staff members will begin meeting next week to hammer out a compromise to be presented to the conferees for a vote the following week.

ALA joins challenge to Patriot Act in U.S. Supreme Court, (October 4, 2005): CHICAGO - Today, the American Library Association (ALA) and the Freedom to Read Foundation joined with the Association of American Publishers and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression to file an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court (PDF) supporting "John Doe," an ALA member who is challenging Section 505 of the USA PATRIOT Act with the support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

ACLU Disappointed with Patriot Act Expansion Bill Approved in Secret; Says "Administrative Subpoenas" Create End-Run Round Constitution, (June 7, 2005): Following reports that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today approved—behind closed doors—legislation designed to reauthorize and expand the Patriot Act, the American Civil Liberties Union expressed its disappointment with the secretive process and the end result that tramples on the Constitution. 

EFF Obtains Draft PATRIOT Bill, Bill Gives Justice Department More Power to Demand Private Records, (May 20, 2005): On Thursday, May 26, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will consider in closed session a draft bill that would both renew and expand various USA PATRIOT Act powers.

ALA president releases statement regarding USA PATRIOT Act Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, (April 7, 2005): The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (“USA PATRIOT Act”) became law on October 26, 2001. 

Key Part of Patriot Act Ruled Unconstitutional, (September 29, 2004)

Safeguarding Privacy in the Fight Against Terrorism, (May 18, 2004): "The Technology and Privacy Advisory Committee (TAPAC) to the Pentagon, originally formed to provide advice on the Total Information Awareness project, has recommended new rules for government data mining projects involving personal data — rules that would protect both civil liberties and national security. —New York Times

Resolving to Resist, (February 17, 2004): "The unifying work of the Patriot Act is even clearer if, rather than summarizing it as an increase in the power of the Justice Department and a corresponding decrease in the rights of persons, it is understood concretely as making the population visible and the Justice Department invisible."

In wake of declassified report, ALA renews call for legislative amendments to PATRIOT Act, (September 18, 2003): "In any case, we hope members of Congress will restore the historic protections of library records and pass one of the legislative proposals currently on the floor, such as the Freedom of Read Protection Act sponsored by Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont)," Hayden added.

Memo shows US has not used Patriot Act to seek library data, (September 18, 2003): "Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the Washington office of the American Library Association, said she was shocked by the lack of warrants, but said it showed that the power wasn't needed. "If this number is accurate, then they have demonstrated that there is no need to change the tradition of protecting library patrons' reading records," she said."

ALA President welcomes call, commitment from U.S. Attorney General to declassify some PATRIOT Act reports, (September 17, 2003): "Today, American Library Association (ALA) President Carla Hayden welcomed a telephone call from U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. In the call, the Attorney General expressed his concern that people have misunderstood his commitment to civil liberties and committed to declassify the Justice Department report on Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act."

American Library Association responds to Attorney General remarks on librarians and USA PATRIOT Act: A statement by ALA President Carla Hayden, (September 15, 2003): "The American Library Association (ALA) has worked diligently for the past two years to increase awareness of a very complicated law -– the USA PATRIOT Act –- that was pushed through the legislative process at breakneck speed in the wake of a national tragedy.  Because the Department of Justice has refused our requests for information about how many libraries have been visited by law enforcement officials using these new powers, we have focused on what the law allows.  The PATRIOT Act gives law enforcement unprecedented powers of surveillance – including easy access to library records with minimal judicial oversight."

Ashcroft Mocks Librarians and Others Who Oppose Parts of Counterterrorism Law, (September 15, 2003): "Attorney General John Ashcroft today accused the country's biggest library association and other critics of fueling "baseless hysteria" about the government's ability to pry into the public's reading habits."

In wake of declassified report, ALA renews call for legislative amendments to PATRIOT Act, (September 18, 2003)

ALA President welcomes call, commitment from U.S. Attorney General to declassify some PATRIOT Act reports, (September 16, 2003)

A Guide to the Patriot Act, (September 2003; a four-part series, this links to part 4, which links to parts 1-3)

Justice Dept. Lists Use of New Power to Fight Terror, (May 21, 2003): "In the most detailed public accounting of how it had used its expanded powers to fight terrorism, the Justice Department released information today showing that federal agents had conducted hundreds of bugging and surveillance operations and visited numerous libraries and mosques using new law enforcement tools."

Get Ready for PATRIOT II, (April 2, 2003): “The 'fog of war' obscures more than just news from the battlefield. It also provides cover for radical domestic legislation, especially ill-considered liberty-for-security swaps, which have been historically popular at the onset of major conflicts.”

Cities Say No to Federal Snooping, (December 19, 2002): “Fearing that the Patriot Act will curtail Americans' civil rights, municipalities across the country are passing resolutions to repudiate the legislation and protect their residents from a perceived abuse of authority by the federal government.” 

Ashcroft's Shadowy Disciple, (November 15, 2002): “In covering the highly visible and contentious midterm national elections, the press, in all its manifestations, totally ignored the Bush administration's ceaseless attacks on the Bill of Rights, orchestrated by Attorney General John Ashcroft. So did the candidates, editorial writers, and commentators.”

ACLU Asks Court to Order Government to Immediately Account for its Use of Vast New Surveillance Powers, (November 13, 2002): “The American Civil Liberties Union today asked a federal court to order the Department of Justice to respond immediately to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking information on the government's use of extraordinary new surveillance powers granted to it by Congress last year.”

DOJ responds to House on Patriot Act, (October 18, 2002): “On October 18, 2002, the US DOJ has released in four letters to Congress the most extensive report to date on how it has used the USA Patriot Act to conduct Internet and electronic surveillance. In June, Reps. F. James Sensenbrenner and John Conyers wrote a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft asking detailed questions about how the USA Patriot Act has been used by agents in the field. Report is at http://judiciary.house.gov/legacy/news101702.htm.”

ACLU Acts Against Patriot Act, (October 17, 2002): “The ACLU has launched a multimillion-dollar national campaign dubbed ‘Keep America Safe and Free’ to challenge the US Patriot Act. Among other plans, the group will air television spots featuring a close-up of a hand cutting up and re-writing the US Constitution as a voiceover charges Attorney General John Ashcroft with violating the First and Fourth amendments.”

University backs down on link ban, (October 8, 2002): “On Tuesday, the American Association of University Professors and nine other groups wrote a letter asking UCSD to abandon its threats of disciplinary action against the Che Cafe Collective, a move that the school had claimed was necessary because of the USA Patriot Act. The cafe had linked to a site supporting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which the U.S. government has designated as a terrorist group.”

The Difficult Balance Between Liberty and Security, (October 6, 2002): “In hearing these cases, the justices will inevitably face one of the most basic and profound questions for any system of justice: how to ensure that the most serious restrictions on liberty are reserved for those who pose the most serious threats to security.”

Things We Lost in the Fire, (September 13, 2002): “A man approaches a librarian to ask for help finding a text. ‘These books are no longer available,’ she replies, in a pinched, Peter Lorre-like voice. ‘May I have your name please?’ A couple of suited thugs take the library patron away.”

Rein in snoopware, senators say, (August 2, 2002): “If the terrorism-wary U.S. government wants to use new surveillance technologies, Americans need assurance that Big Brother won’t become a Peeping Tom, two senators warn.”

Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Preserving Our Liberties While Fighting Terrorism, (June 22, 2002): “This cycle of terrorist attack followed by government curtailment of civil liberties must be broken—or our society will eventually lose the key attribute that has made it great: freedom. The American people can accept the reality that the president and Congress are simply not capable of preventing terrorist attacks from occurring. Policymakers should stop pretending otherwise and focus their attention on combating terrorism within the framework of a free society.”