ALA: Senate Judiciary Committee Did Not Achieve Balance on Patriot Act
Alire responds to <i>Washington Post</i> editorial endorsing result
-- Library Journal, 10/19/2009
The Senate Judiciary Committee has weakened proposed reforms in the reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT ACT, as LJ reported, and the American Library Association is not pleased.
A letter published in the October 18 Washington Post:
The American Library Association does not see the same "balance" that The Post does in endorsing the Senate Judiciary Committee's "high-wire act" on the Patriot Act [editorial, Oct. 13].
The Judiciary Committee and the Justice Department should have used this opportunity to broaden the debate on Patriot Act reforms. While modest tweaks were made, the committee rejected substantive and systematic reform to prevent the unwarranted surveillance, collection and retention of the personal information of millions of innocent Americans.
Our association's principles are built upon the constitutional right to privacy and the freedom to read. The minimal "fix" to Section 215 for library circulation records does not address readers' Internet usage at libraries, nor does it raise the legal standards to obtain national security letters. We know that reform is needed because the Justice Department's inspector general has reported numerous abuses.
Those who work in libraries are as concerned about our nation's safety as any other segment of society, but the balance that we continue to seek is legislation that will protect civil liberties while also providing law enforcement with the tools it needs to fight terrorism.
American Library Association