October 13, 2009 • SACRAMENTO, CA — The California Library Association (CLA) has just announced a resolution calling on Congress to dramatically revise the up-for-renewal USA PATRIOT Act, passed hurriedly in the weeks following the 9/11 attacks.
Librarians have been front-line opponents of certain provisions of the PATRIOT Act since its passage. The Act has made it possible, under Section 215, for the FBI to request and obtain library records for large numbers of individuals without reason to believe they are involved in illegal activity. This jeopardizes the basic ethics of the library profession, expressed in the Library Bill of Rights of the American Library Association.
Expanding on the American Library Association’s PATRIOT Act resolution last July, the CLA resolution goes further to address imminent First and Fourth Amendment concerns with Section 505. This provision grants the FBI broad authority to sidestep constitutional safeguards though use of National Security Letters to obtain information.
CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee chair, Mary Minow, a leading expert on library law, said, “It’s past time for the blatantly unconstitutional aspects of this legislation to be removed from the books, and now is the opportunity for Congress to act.”
Two sections of the PATRIOT Act are currently up for reauthorization, with sunsets at the end of December 2009, and librarians across the country see this as an opportunity to correct those provisions that attack basic civil liberties. CLA’s resolution calls for Congress to allow Section 215 to sunset, to amend Section 505 to “include a clear exemption for library records,” and in general to intensify Congressional oversight of the use of the Act.
* CLA Resolution on 2009 Reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act (PDF, 481k)
For more information, please contact:
Mary Minow, Chair,
CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee
Amy Sonnie, Member,
CLA Intellectual Freedom Committee,
or cla_ifc [a t] earthlink [dot] net