Top Secret


The Washington Post reports:

As the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks approaches, the Bush administration's war on terror has produced a secondary battle: fierce struggles in Congress, the courts and communities such as these over how the war on terror should be carried out. At the heart of this debate is the USA Patriot Act, the law signed by President Bush 45 days after the terror strikes that enhanced the executive branch's powers to conduct surveillance, search for money-laundering, share intelligence with criminal prosecutors and charge suspected terrorists with crimes.

Yet the paradox of this debate is that it is playing out in a near-total information vacuum: By its very terms, the Patriot Act hides information about how its most contentious aspects are used, allowing investigations to be authorized and conducted under greater secrecy.

As for how many times the government has used the law's powers to enter a library, a senior Justice official said, "Whether it is one or 100 or zero, it is classified."