Magazine article American Libraries

Former "John Doe" Warns of Patriot Act Abuse

Magazine article American Libraries

Former "John Doe" Warns of Patriot Act Abuse

Article excerpt

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution heard testimony April 11 from George Christian, one of four former plaintiffs in the John Doe v. Gonzales lawsuit (AL, Aug. 2006, p. 8-9) that contested the constitutionality of the FBI's use of National Security Letters (NSLs). Christian, the executive director of the Connecticut nonprofit library consortium Library Connection, submitted his testimony on behalf of ALA.

"Our saga should raise a big, patriotic American flag of caution about how our civil liberties are being sorely tested by law enforcement abuses of National Security Letters," Christian said in his statement. "The questions raised vindicate the concerns that the library community and others have had for over five years about the broad powers expanded under the USA Patriot Act."

The hearing follows a March 9 audit (AL, Apr., p. 20-21) by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine that concluded the FBI habitually neglected to follow NSL regulations from 2002 to 2005, during which time 143,074 letters were delivered and another 8,850 letters went unrecorded in the official NSL tracking database maintained by the FBI's Office of the General Counsel, the Associated Press reported March 9. …

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