ALA questions late government action dropping fight to gag librarians with NSLs

Contacts: Bernadette Murphy, Larra Clark

ALA Media Relations


For Immediate Release

April 12, 2006

ALA questions late government action dropping fight to gag librarians with NSLs

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) In the wake of news that the U.S. government has announced it will forego its legal battle over a gag order on Connecticut librarians in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, American Library Association (ALA) President Michael Gorman released the following statement:

"While we are pleased 'John Doe' will finally be able to speak, the government's timing is highly suspicious coming merely a month after the reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act. The American public should be outraged that the one person in the United States who could have spoken from real experience with a National Security Letter (NSL), and who was seeking to join the national debate, was forbidden from doing so until after that debate was complete. This appears to be secrecy for the sake of control of the public debate, rather than a true concern for national security.

"The Second Circuit Court of Appeals should dismiss the government's appeal of Judge Hall's decision and uphold her ruling that the gag order accompanying the NSL provision was unconstitutional."

On September 9, Judge Janet C. Hall ruled in ACLU v. Gonzalez that disclosure of the recipient's identity would jeopardize neither national security nor the investigation.

The ALA and the Freedom to Read Foundation are participants in an amicus brief 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).