"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, June 01, 2006

No Records are Safe Except

Except, of course, the ones the White House orders off limits. The Times has this story on the Kafta-esque nightmare of four librarian from Connecticut, who were muzzled by Justice Dept. thugs to keep them from testifying about federal mining of library records during hearings on the Patriot Act. Part of the story:

. . . . "The fact that the government can and is eavesdropping on patrons in libraries has a chilling effect, because they really don't know if Big Brother is looking over their shoulder," he added.

Being free to speak now, weeks after the Patriot Act was reauthorized for several more years, was "like being allowed to call the Fire Department after the building has burned down," he said.

Barbara Bailey, a librarian from Glastonbury, and Janet Nocek, a librarian from Portland, appeared with Mr. Chase and Mr. Christian. Ms. Bailey and Ms. Nocek both serve with Mr. Chase on the executive committee of Library Connection's board.

The librarians described many surreal moments from the nearly yearlong legal battle. When a judge heard arguments on their case in Bridgeport, they said, they had to watch a television hookup from Hartford because federal lawyers did not want them at the hearing. Mr. Christian described having to remain silent when his son Ben asked him why he was dodging calls from reporters.

And when John Doe was given an award in absentia at a meeting of the Connecticut Library Association, Ms. Bailey was in the audience and felt odd but compelled to join a standing ovation to avoid tipping anyone off. Mr. Christian said that he and the other leaders of library consortiums in Connecticut had discussed hiring a lawyer to lobby against provisions of the Patriot Act but had accepted government assurances that there was little risk of federal investigators seeking library records. "We trusted them but apparently we shouldn't have," Mr. Chase said, noting that his organization would continue to resist other aspects of the government's demand. . . .

Trust this Regime? Do so at the risk of your Constitution.

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