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Four Librarians Who Challenged the Patriot Act – and Won

Credit: Overlord59

I became so completely engrossed in this article that I have read it thoroughly at least five times now. I wanted to make sure that I completely understood the implications of what is actually occurring here within our own country to our own citizens.

Briefly, with a few excerpts from the story, two FBI agents entered into the Library Connection in Windsor, Connecticut, flashed their badges and demanded to speak to the person in charge. George Christian, who was the Director, appeared as per the agent’s request and the agents demanded “‘any and all subscriber information, billing information and access logs of any person or entity’ that had used computers between 4 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. on February 15, 2005, in any of the 27 libraries whose computer systems were managed by the Library Connection…. He handed Christian a document called a National Security Letter (NSL); it said the information was being sought ‘to protect against international terrorism.'”

Additionally, the agent pointed out to Christian that anyone reading the letter is now bound to a lifetime gag order. Breaking the gag order will result in five years imprisonment.

“I believe this is unconstitutional,” said Christian politely. In response he got a threatening scowl, a business card, and instructions to have his lawyer call the FBI.

An attorney was reached and requested the court order, to which there was none. An NSL does not require a court order. The attorney met with Christian and three other executive committee members of the Library Connection – each now bound to the lifetime gag order simply by reading the NSL.

National security letters are a little-known FBI tool originally used in foreign intelligence surveillance to obtain phone, financial, and electronic records without court approval. Rarely employed until 2001, they exploded in number after the Patriot Act drastically eased restrictions on their use, allowing NSLs to be served by FBI agents on anyone—whether or not they were the subject of a criminal investigation. In 2000, 8,500 NSLs were issued; by contrast, between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 143,000 NSLs, only one of which led to a conviction in a terrorism case.

Abuse has also been rampant. An investigation last year revealed that the FBI had broken regulations governing NSLs in more than 1,000 cases.

The librarians sought help from the ACLU in New York and challenged the constitutionality of the NSLs and also wanted their gag order lifted so they would be able to participate in the then-upcoming national debate over renewal of the Patriot Act.

That was in November 2005. The Patriot Act was reauthorized in March 2006. Six weeks later, the Justice Department informed the ACLU that it would no longer contest the Connecticut librarians’ demand to lift their gag order. The Supreme Court subsequently ordered the Justice Department to unseal the court documents in the case. Among the evidence the government had tried to keep secret were quotes from previous Supreme Court cases; copies of New York Times articles; and the text of the Connecticut law that guarantees the confidentiality of library records.

In September 2007, a federal court ruled in the case of John Doe New York that the entire national security letter provision of the Patriot Act was unconstitutional. US District Judge Victor Marrero said that secretive NSLs are “the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values.” The Bush administration has appealed the decision.

“The big question is, how many other improper NSLs have been issued by the FBI and never challenged?”


This story raises a lot of questions as to the intent of the Patriot Act, and 9-11 as well, since they do go hand-in-hand. I am beginning to lean towards the side of the conspiracy theorists that Bin Laden et al were simply used as a patsy and the Twin Towers were actually brought down by our own. Now, please, hear me out and don’t stop here. Trust me… it really hurts and completely goes against my grain to even think of this. All the innocent people murdered. And having been lied to by our government for so long. I do not want to believe we’ve been lied to, it hurts. But in all honesty, the conspiracy stories are beginning to make more sense than the one we’ve been led to believe for nearly eleven years now. Just watch this video by The Colbert Report which really does make the story we’ve been told rather, well, silly. If anything, the sarcasm will put a smile on your face – if you enjoy sarcasm, that is.

The primary basis for instituting the Patriot Act was to protect our country from terrorists, correct? From stories like this and seeing the statistics, “In 2000, 8,500 NSLs were issued; by contrast, between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 143,000 NSLs, only one of which led to a conviction in a terrorism case,” it appears as though the Patriot Act is being used as a means to spy on the innocent citizens of our country. Only one conviction.

Sounds to me like we no longer need the Patriot Act – at least the NSL’s.


Motley News and Photos has a visitor

And just an FYI here… do not be so quick to poo-poo that we’re being watched. A few weeks back I happened to notice an IP address which hit this site three times in one day. I often don’t run the location of IP’s because more often than not, they’re from a private IP address. But this one had three hits, whereas they almost always have one hit. So I took a gander and ran it in one of the dozens of sites available on-line to look up IP’s. And guess who came to visit Motley News and Photos three times that day….

…The US Department of Defense.

So, to the DOD… Hi, guys! Feel free to look around. I have absolutely nothing to hide and only speak my voice. Nothing more, nothing less. I love dogs and photography; a progressive liberal, but registered as a Democrat; I believe in women’s rights and the Freedom of Religion. Now, if any of that is illegal, then a very sad day has arrived in the United States of America.


Full article available at:

Mother Jones: America’s Most Dangerous Librarians

29 Comments »

  1. All the exposure of Tyrants, corruption and conspiracy from the highest levels has the higher levels paranoid. They created the mistrust, and now the whole countrys’ people. Yours and mine pay the price. Terrorism laws are being flouted everywhere, which causes histeria within certain ethnic groups.

      • Desperate housewives right enough! That’s all we are. Following fashion until one day something klinks in your brain and what you have been instructed to believe suddenly makes no sense. I read everything and keep an open mind. I don’t think my opinion has any regard to anything other than my thoughts. But it scares me to think of the bigger picture and what has been going on. We have people here who lost family in the Lockerbie Disaster who don’t believe it was Libya, they look at the possibility of it being CIA too. I don’t think the whole truth about the oil conspiracies will be told in my time.

        • Ayup. I much prefer to present facts, ideas, theories and let people decide for themselves. I found a site that showed how much Ghadaffi was loved by his country – and the video and other items the site presented made a lot of sense. Started me thinking… most of us are not in Libya, or any other country. We don’t see what’s going on, we don’t talk to the locals. We completely rely upon the media. So it is so easy for them to report stories that they wants us to believe, whether the truth or not. I’ve argued with a few people about Ghadaffi. Now, I don’t believe he’s a saint, for sure… but neither was Bush for that matter. Waterboarding…. Anyway, when in the Libya debate with a friend, they always say how horrible of a person he was. I ask how they know this. Inevitably the response is always that what the news reports, the gov’t reports, etc. I always counter with the fact that perhaps they’re just telling you this because that’s what they want you to believe.

          I don’t know the truth and never will. But it is wise to keep one’s mind open to the facts at hand. We do have to rely on our media for the news. We can’t be everywhere at any moment in time. But raising questions is a very wise thing to do. Following and believing everything one is told is a very dangerous thing to do.

        • Julian Assange. Perfect example of the collaboration to “shut people up” and stop them in their tracks. I don’t believe for one minute the man’s a rapist. And that goes for most sane, rational people who can see the workings of the “shutteruperers”.

        • Locked up never to be seen or heard again. I sometimes wonder that if the truth be told, it would probably be damning for us all. And National Security measures are actually, as they say “for the greater good”

  2. Why now this is a rare opportunity! Hey DOD, are you there? You probably won’t answer, since you don’t want to blow your cover, but I have a question for you DOD – Now that the US Military is cool with gays serving in the military openly, is it true DOD, that you’re in love with TOD? Cause that’s what I’ve heard… Hey, it’s OK – you can come out now, cause “Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell” is OVER!

    And I’m not being judgmental here, I’m just curious. (but not bi-curious) In fact, DOD, if you really think that TOD is the man for you, well you should head straight for my home state of Massachusetts the next time that you and TOD are on leave. Cause we’ll let you two gay military lovebirds get married legally married! We’re cool with that here, and nothing like those intolerant and bigoted assholes in North Carolina!

    So DOD, I wish you and TOD all the very best, and BTW, I can suggest some beautiful places for a wedding on Cape Cod. So look me up, and we’ll discuss it further. Well I gotta run, but just wanna say congrats DOD & TOD and I hope that you guys find the true happiness of true man on man love for your gay lifetime together!

      • 😀 I’ll be back later. I’m promised my wife that I’d cook dinner now, and I gotta get to it, cause she’s hungry and I don’t want us to fight – Cause I don’t any right wing Christians to think that me and my wife fighting has anything to do with me offering to help DOD & TOD with their upcoming wedding on Cape Cod.

        No really, right wing Christians – our 21 yr heterosexual marriage is perfectly safe and not in any danger because I’m helping DOD & TOD get married!

        Catch ya later, Michelle! 😀

  3. While I don’t buy the conspiracy theories about 9/11, the government’s panic, paranoia, and abuse of power since then has been jaw-dropping. And it keeps getting worse. It seems absolute power, invoked after 9/11, does indeed corrupt absolutely.

  4. Thank you, Michelle! This needs to be shared widely, including the fact that the DOD thinks it needs to keep an eye on blogs about women’s rights.

    • LOL, yeah. I’m guessing they checked me out because several months ago I posted an article about how social sites are being monitored and the key “watch” words they look for. So they finally got around to me, saw it was harmless and hopefully left for good.

  5. Colbert rocks. He is a serious church going REAL Christian as per a wiki article. Not affiliated with the whackos.
    Hysterical, fun and intelligent.
    Not as fun and in depth as your piece though. Have to read this again.
    ~R

  6. It’s just so strange that the reaction against terrorists is…to create more terror in this country, including spying on citizens whose only threat is that they dissent.

  7. Michelle, an important article and post. we must stand up to all misplaced, misused authority. i do not say this idly – i myself, have arrested 3 cops in my lifetime, and have been arrested protesting wars. keep up the people’s work. we need more voices like yours. continue…

  8. I have one for you. I had a virus in my desktop last week. Dell took control and went to delete and reinstall the users on the computer. There’s my girlfriend who doesn’t know anymore then to log on and read. I believe she got the virus because she went to illuminiti sites because they were talking about the music industry. Just before memorial Day I wrote a post on the kkk. I surfed some of their sites. When Dell looked at the users there was me, my girlfriend our user’s are password protected. Then we had one more for her teenage nieces and they have limited access. Dell found another User on our computer. This User was password protected. And this User didn’t come up when you turned on the computer. I don’t know where this 4th user came from. I thought that was kind of weird. Did you read my post “Gone Mad”?

    • What’s the link? I didn’t read it. I’m way far behind on my readings. Also, I don’t care what Dell told you to use as virus software as I’m sure it’s because they’re a partner or it’s proprietary. But I’m going to email you what to use. I don’t like posting it as then that helps hackers know what I’m using and eases any hacks on my system. I had some idiot from China that wouldn’t leave me alone for a while. My anti-virus company eventually ridded him for me.

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