- “The FBI has a history, which Attorney General Ashcroft is ignoring, of violating civil liberties,” says Chris Finan, president of American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. “So our concern that this could happen again certainly has precedent and historical support. The question of whether or not there have been any bookstores searched at this point gives us cool comfort.”
….Ashcroft also promised to declassify data on how the Justice Department has used Section 215 of the Patriot Act in relation to bookstores and libraries–then said that, in fact, the department had never used the broad search powers
granted by the section.
“I hope it’s true,” says Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association. “I think that that is a very clear indication that the Justice Department doesn’t need this authority and they should be supporting us to amend the Patriot Act.”
….Sheketoff expresses bafflement at the personal tone of Ashcroft’s criticisms last week. He accused the ALA and other groups of spreading “baseless hysteria” about the Act. “I can’t understand them,” Sheketoff says. “You know librarians, we’re not a scary bunch.”
I’ve known some TOTALLY scary librarians, by the way. Based upon this reaction, it sounds like the librarians don’t know how to respond to the assertion that the element of the Patriot Act they have been so up in arms over has never even been used – they sound a bit … disappointed. But freedom to read as we see fit without interference or intimidation is a core right and one worth getting a bit, um, hysterical over.