Library Connection is “John Doe”— Board speaks about NSL order for library records

Contact: Bernadette Murphy

ALA Washington Office

(202) 628-8410
For Immediate Release:

May 30, 2006

Library Connection is “John Doe”— Board speaks about NSL order for library records

(WASHINGTON) Today four Connecticut librarians spoke publicly for the first time about their experience as recipients of a National Security Letter (NSL) demanding library records. Plaintiffs in
John Doe v. Gonzales George Christian, Executive Director of Library Connection; Barbara Bailey, President of the Library Connection Board; Peter Chase, the Board’s Vice President; and Janet Nocek, Secretary of the Board spoke to reporters at an ACLU press conference in New York City. The Plaintiffs were finally allowed to speak publicly after lawyers representing the government withdrew an appeal to keep their identities hidden after Federal District Court Judge Janet C. Hall declared the perpetual gag order that accompanies National Security Letters unconstitutional.

Christian, Chase, Bailey and Nocek spoke of the “chilling effect” on the public of laws that allow the federal government easy access to library records and challenged the Justice Department’s claims that no citizens’ rights were violated under section 505 of the PATRIOT Act. Board Vice President Peter Chase said of Justice Department officials’ earlier claims that library records were not being searched under the PATRIOT Act,
“I want to know why they weren’t telling the truth.”

ALA President-Elect Leslie Burger officially thanked Library Connection on behalf of America’s library users for their “bravery and patriotism” in fighting the government’s order and expressed regret that Library Connection was barred from speaking to Congress about the USA PATRIOT Act before the law was renewed earlier this year. “In the course of the very important debate over renewal of the PATRIOT Act our elected officials should have had access to Library Connection’s testimony,” she said.
“The fact that Congress did not get to hear your account of the impact of Section 505 of the PATRIOT Act on librarians and library users means that they were not as fully informed as they deserved to be.” Burger concluded the press conference by expressing the hope that “the stand Library Connection has taken on behalf of the library community will help lead the way to laws that better reflect what this country stands for.”