Patriot Act

America's Librarians 'inimically against' PATRIOT Act Extension

Sen. McConnell's pro-surveillance stylings stir up opposition


U.S. Government

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's surprise scheme to head off reform of America's surveillance state with a quickie renewal of the offending PATRIOT Act in its totality draws fast criticism. It's hard to believe the long-time snooper-booster thought he could slip the legislation through without raising a fuss, and a fuss he has raised, with denunciations coming in from organizations including the American Library Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Mozilla Foundation.

S.1035 is, bluntly, billed as "a bill to extend authority relating to roving surveillance, access to business records, and individual terrorists as agents of foreign powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and for other purposes." Co-sponsors are limited, for the moment, to fellow mass-surveillance fan Sen Richard Burr (R-N.C.). Hopefully, that indicates the bill's chances in a Congress where Republicans and Democrats alike have expressed concern over the intrusive reach of the National Security Agency and the rest of the federal alphabet soup into Americans' communications (although both donkeys and elephants have come out as fans of the same, too).

Responding to the bill proposed by McConnell and Burr, American Library Association President Courtney Young announced that the organization is "inimically opposed" to its passage. Young commented, "Nothing is more basic to democracy and librarianship than intellectual freedom. And, nothing is more hostile to that freedom than the knowledge that the government can compel a library—without a traditional judicial search warrant—to report on the reading and Internet records of library patrons, students, researchers and entrepreneurs. That is what Section 215 did in 2001 and what it still does today."

The American Civil Liberties Union's Anthony Romero noted, "The Patriot Act has been at the root of many of the most serious abuses of government spying powers. We need to have a serious debate about the effectiveness of the Patriot Act and its implications for civil liberties. Until that happens, Congress should let Section 215 of the Patriot Act expire with the whimper it deserves."

"Mozilla is deeply troubled by Senators Mitch McConnell and Richard Burr's new legislation to reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act without any reforms," says Chris Riley, the Mozilla Foundation's Head of Public Policy. "Their legislation would allow the program that collects the call records of every law-abiding American to continue unchecked through 2020. Our call records are more than just numbers and metadata, they are intimate portraits into our lives, and should be kept private. Mozilla and thousands of internet users urge Congress to pass real surveillance reform."

After its defeat last year over watered-down provisions, a revised version of the modestly surveillance-limiting USA FREEDOM Act is in the works, and parts of the PATRIOT Act expire on June 1 all by themselves.

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  1. *knock, knock* Anybody home?
    But, yeah, I think you can safely say “America’s Librarians ‘inimically against’ PATRIOT Act Extension”. I doubt this will even get ‘true Scotsman’ snarkery.

  2. I thought America’s librarians were too busy dealing with the monster in their midst – Sugarfree – to notice the PATRIOT Act.

    1. Once they found they could not wield it against him, they turned on it like you would not believe.

    2. NutraSweet lurks, biding his time, like the Sleeper in the Pyramid. When he awakes, nothing will be able to stop him. You think he’s awake now but that’s just his autonomic functions. You know, writing disgusting stories and farting.

      1. I wish this wasn’t so.

        1. Which part, the not awake yet part, the writing disgusting stories part, or the farting part?

          1. All of it. 🙁

      2. In nascent penumbra dread SugarFree waits dreaming?

        1. I think it’s “that is not Fred which can eternal cry”.

    3. Wait, there’s another librarian on here?!

      1. He’s actually an archivist. How gauche, right?

        1. But I have an MLS, so I’m a LIBERIVIST!

          1. That’s a different breed altogether! I’m a director, but I wanted to be an archivist in grad school, until I realized you guys will all die on the job and there are thousands of people waiting to take your job when you kick the bucket.

            1. The moans of unemployed MLS battering at our barricades are enough to drive a man mad.

              1. I tell everyone who asks NOT to go for an MLS unless they know some librarians about to die/retire.

                1. Most of my student workers are from the MLS program. Watching the light die in their eyes a little bit every semester is my favorite part.

                  1. Have you seen “The Librarian” yet? My friend and his (librarian) wife highly recommended I watch it.

                  2. I have a friend who recently got an MLS and he seems to be finding work. He is in the Boston area where there are many libraries, so that might help.

  3. I’m beginning to suspect that Mitch McConnell might be a dirtbag.

    1. This may be far fetched, but Mitch was one of 3 people to vote yes Rand’s amendment to pay for military spending increases by cutting a bunch of programs. He can’t be unaware that this is prime material for Rand to talk about and distinguish himself from opponents. It certainly puts them in a position of having to either support the Patriot act or not…without caveats.

  4. And I’ll bet no one will ask Clinton about this before it has been passed. Fait accompli.

  5. McConnell and Burr aren’t much good to us alive, are they Turkish?

  6. My best friend’s mother-in-law makes $85 /hour on the internet . She has been out of work for 5 months but last month her pay was $16453 just working on the internet for a few hours.
    Visit this website ?????

    1. Asset forfeiture?

  7. The alt-text almost makes me forgive the use of that grotesque picture.

  8. IIRC Obama signed one extension of the Patriot Act while he was in Paris, so that the media would feel less obliged to report on it since it was done in the middle of the night US time. Then the Tea Party elects a Republican Congress and this is what they get?

    If the US really has two parties, one of them is the Libertarian.

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