Concern for Patriot Act sparks new legislation in Congress
As U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft prepares his Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, or Patriot Act II, the impacts of the initial Patriot Act are still being debated in Congress.
The American Library Association (ALA), along with groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, have teamed with senators and representatives in hopes of limiting a law enforcement agency’s ability to “manipulate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution,” said Lynne Bradley, director of the American Library Association’s government relations.
For the librarians, the ability to protect a reader’s confidentiality remains a high priority. The ALA and the Canadian Librarians Association are meeting Saturday to discuss concerns about sharing information with law enforcement.
“We’re not for thwarting any investigation,” Bradley said. “We want to do the right thing for the country and the law. We just want to know what these broad amounts of information from a large amount of individuals is going toward.”
Bradley isn’t alone. Four bills are being introduced and sponsored by 114 congressmen, including U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., who represents Summit County and the 2nd District.
The first, the Freedom to Read Protection Act of 2003, amends FISA by requiring the attorney general to “fully inform the appropriate congressional committees” about the requests for intelligence orders, and to analyze the effectiveness of each application of the Patriot Act against terrorism.
The second, the Domestic Surveillance Oversight Act of 2003, requires more reporting regarding investigations that use library records. One of the major complaints about the Patriot Act, coming from civil libertarians and Congress, has been the lack of a paper trail in holding detainees and terrorist suspects.
The third, the Library and Bookseller Protection Act, also deals with more reporting of issues dealing with the requests of information from booksellers or librarians.
This act would try to ban such acts that could gain personal identifiable information by looking into a patron of a book store or library.
The final act, the Surveillance Oversight and Disclosure Act of 2003, is a call to a return to pre-Patriot Act laws that require more than a hunch that a suspect is an agent of a foreign power as a basis for requesting information.
For now, Bradley said, proponents of the bill are trying to drum up more support before drafting a final copy of any of the acts.
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