I really don't get the concern over privacy for library and bookstore records. Who cares?
WASHINGTON -- Advocates of rewriting the USA Patriot Act are claiming momentum after the House, despite a White House veto threat, voted to restrict investigators from using the anti-terrorism law to peek at library records and bookstore sales slips. ...
"No question, this is a real shot in the arm for those of us who want to make changes to the USA Patriot Act," said Rep. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., sponsor of the provision that would curtail the government's ability to investigate the reading habits of terror suspects. He said the vote would help "rein in an administration intent on chipping away at the very civil liberties that define us as a nation."
Since when is reading material privacy one of the "civil liberties that define us as a nation"? It's nonsense. Investigators can get warrants to tap phone lines and peek into internet connections -- not to mention search warrants for homes -- all of which are clearly far more intrusive than looking into library records. (Although I don't think warrants are needed to look into book records.)
I don't see any reason why library records shouldn't be used to learn about a terror suspect. If someone is suspected of terrorism, isn't it relevant that they have or have not been looking at, say, books about demolition explosives or biological agents? Obviously if that's all a suspect has been doing, then no crime has been committed and all the investigators can do is keep an eye on the guy. But if the book records lead to uncovering a larger plot, then what's wrong with that?
Meanwhile, libraries (which I dislike) are destroying records to protect terrorists.
In the meantime, a number of libraries have begun disposing of patrons' records quickly so they won't be available if sought under the law.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told Congress in April that the government has never used the provision to obtain library, bookstore, medical or gun sale records.
But when asked whether the administration would agree to exclude library and medical records from the law, Gonzales demurred. "It should not be held against us that we have exercised restraint," he said.