Wyden amendment would ensure reporting on FBI library searches

Contact: Bernadette Murphy

Washington Communications Director


For Immediate Release:

May 26, 2005

Wyden amendment would ensure reporting on FBI library searches

(WASHINGTON) Today the American Library Association (ALA) thanked Oregon
Senator Ron Wyden for his efforts to protect library patrons' privacy with an amendment proposed in advance of today's United States Senate Intelligence Committee closed-door markup of USA PATRIOT Act legislation.
ALA, along with other civil liberties groups, had asked the committee to make the markup public, but the committee refused.

Senator Wyden’s amendment to the PATRIOT Act would require semi-annual reports on the voluntary disclosure of business records for foreign intelligence purposes. The FBI already reports its use of search warrants and subpoenas for library records to the Senate committee every six months.
The FBI has indicated that, in addition to these methods, it also uses "discreet inquiries" to libraries to obtain records. The proposed amendment
would ensure that the FBI reports the number of requests for records that are not followed up with a warrant or subpoena, and the number of successful requests.

Despite this amendment, however, there remain serious problems with the bill the Intelligence Committee is scheduled to consider, including its broad expansion of FBI authority to use administrative subpoenas to get records with no judicial oversight. “We fear that librarians are being intimidated into turning over library records to FBI agents without a warrant or subpoena,” said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington Office. “Senator Wyden’s amendment would allow the Congress to know more about FBI activity in libraries and it would also ensure that the FBI does not use scare tactics to gather library patrons’ reading records.”

"America's libraries and the families who use them shouldn't be subject to secret investigations and strong-arm tactics with no accountability attached," said Wyden.
"I want to make certain that safeguards are in place to preserve the freedom and integrity of these vital institutions."