The Freedom to Read Foundation has joined three other groups in suing the U.S. Department of Justice to obtain information about how the government has used its expanded surveillance powers granted by the USA Patriot Act.
The suit--filed October 24 by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, and the FTRF--seeks information about how many times the government sought records from libraries, bookstores, and Internet service providers. It also asks how often the Justice Department has used its new powers to conduct various types of searches and surveillance.
The ACLU, EPIC, and ABEFE filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the information August 21. In a September 3 letter, the Justice Department agreed to respond to the FOIA request promptly, but ACLU attorney Jameel Jaffer said in late October that the agency has failed to disclose any records. "The Justice Department conceded in early September that the information is of exceeding importance to the American public, but it nonetheless continues to stonewall," said Jaffer.
Correspondence to Congress released October 16 indicates that while the Justice Department has made relatively limited use of powers granted under the Patriot Act, the law has "provided critical assistance to the efforts of the department and the administration against terrorists and …