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The Therapy Sessions
Monday, June 20, 2005

Government snoops

Libraries Say Yes, Officials Do Quiz Them About Users:

Law enforcement officials have made at least 200 formal and informal inquiries to libraries for information on reading material and other internal matters since October 2001, according to a new study that adds grist to the growing debate in Congress over the government's counterterrorism powers.

In some cases, agents used subpoenas or other formal demands to obtain information like lists of users checking out a book on Osama bin Laden. Other requests were informal - and were sometimes turned down by librarians who chafed at the notion of turning over such material, said the American Library Association, which commissioned the study.

Big deal.

As a libertarain leaning person, I'm supposed to get all bent out of shape about this kind of thing.

But I don't.

If a man was accused of molesting children, and a search warrant revealed that he had a stash of child pornography, that reading material would be evidence. If an acquaintance of his was a convicted child molester, that would be evidence too.

Nobody would have any problem with that. He would not being convicted of knowing a child molester; he would be convicted of molesting children. His acquaitances and his taste in illegal movies would just make his guilt more obvious.

If a man was accused of being a terrorist, and he was known to have talked to Mohammed Atta in August of 2001, that would also be evidence.

Why? He only talked to him! Yes, only talk - but it would be the kind of thing that a jury should know about. He would not be convicted for having talked to Mohammed Atta; he would be convicted of being a terrorist.

I would argue that the books that somone takes out of library are not that much different than the people the accused talked to and the types of movies that person watched.

Yes, there are perfectly innocent reasons for interest in bomb making or the writings of Osama Bin Laden.

But there are a lot of bad ones too.

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