Saturday, June 28, 2008

ALA Defends Book Confiscation Worldwide by Communist/Terrorist Regimes? SafeLibraries Asks ALA Councilor James Casey to Clarify Anti-American Stand

Dear ALA Councilor James B. Casey,

In your defense of the American Library Association's [ALA] position to take no meaningful action to support jailed Cuban librarians, you make statements about Saddam's Iraq and the United States that need clarification in view of recent news about religious book confiscation by Saddam's regime. You stated,

"Thanks to [ALA Councilor] Peter McDonald for standing up to the accusatory rhetoric of those who have launched a long term a [sic] sabre rattling offensive against the crumbling Castro regime reminiscent of the rheoric [sic] for 'regime change' against Sadaam [sic] that led to our disastrous invasion of Iraq." [FN 1]

"All of your comments are predicated upon the central premise that the 'independent library movement' rhetoric we have been hearing is true and based upon accurate information and not built upon a tapestry of lies and political posturing similar to the elaborate system of persuasion we heard from the Bush Administration prior to the invasion of Iraq.

"I must admit that I was not absolutely certain that I was right in protesting the invasion of Iraq back in mid-March 2003 before the invasion. However, I strongly suspected that Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney were liars as many protestors declared. Why? Because of the manner they had conducted themselves in the past upon such racist/divisive tactics applied against John McCain in South Carolina during the 2000 primary and in Florida against African American voters in Florida during the general 2000 election (not to mention the withdrawal from the Kyoto Treaty and international efforts to combat global warming). I didn't trust the administration because of its arrogant, divisive and utterly despicable conduct previously in practically every issue from fiscal to environmental policy. Five years later, the truth is 'out' and I can only say that opposition to the Iraq war was correct in every measure of truth. We were lied into war and the war has damage [sic] our country immeasurably." [FN 2]


Now Mr. Casey, recent news reveals that the Saddam regime confiscated hundreds of religious books from Iraqi Jews:

"Some 300 rare and valuable books confiscated from Iraq's Jewish community by Saddam Hussein's regime have been secretly spirited into Israel, an Israeli newspaper reported on Friday.

"The books include a 1487 commentary on the biblical Book of Job and another volume of biblical prophets printed in Venice in 1617, the Haaretz daily said.

"The volumes are part of a massive collection of books confiscated by the secret police of the executed Iraqi dictator and stored in security installations in the Iraqi capital until the US-led invasion of 2003." [FN 3]


It sounds to me that Saddam damaged his own country's intellectual freedom, to say the least, even before "the Bush Administration ... lied." The ALA holds itself out as an expert on intellectual freedom, and you are among the ALA's governing council and have chosen to speak out on the issue of the intellectual freedom of the jailed Cuban librarians. Therefore, Mr. Casey, in view of this recent news about religious book confiscation by the Saddam regime, would you care to amend any of your previous statements quoted above? Is there anything else you would like to add?

By the way, Mr. Casey, the article says,

"Iraq once hosted a thriving 2,600 year-old Jewish community that numbered some 130,000 people at the time Israel was created in 1948.

"But after Israel came into being and into conflict with its Arab neighbours, Iraqi Jews began to suffer discrimination and were often accused of being agents of the new Jewish state." [FN 4]


Similarly, ALA Councilors are accusing the jailed Cuban librarians of being agents of America. For example, ALA Councilor Peter McDonald said the jailed Cuban libraries were not real librarians, but

"were by the whole average citizens journalists, teachers, laborers, who were arrested, tried and convicted for knowingly subverting Cuban law repeatedly -- for one, distributing U.S. funded anti-government materials (among other crimes)." [FN 5]


Setting aside how interesting it is to see an ALA Councilor calling intellectual freedom a "crime," would you care to elaborate on any similarities or differences in being accused of being agents of Israel or agents of the United States so as to excuse book confiscations to which the ALA might otherwise be opposed?

Care to elaborate on how and why ALA Councilors appear to support such confiscations (although with regard to the Iraq matter that may depend on your responses to my questions)?

Care to elaborate on why such confiscations are seemingly ignored or even condoned by the ALA but, for example, in your own public library you and other ALA leaders forced the Oak Lawn, IL, community to keep Playboy magazine available for children, the very basis of SafeLibraries.org? "We build a collection of what we think is a reflection of what the community wants to see," Casey said. "We try to serve the public rather than stand in judgment of their tastes." [FN 6]

Thank you, Mr. Casey. I look forward to factual responses free of further ad hominem argument.

Dan Kleinman
SafeLibraries.org


ENDNOTES

[FN 1] Letter from James Casey (jcasey@oaklawnlibrary.org) to Peter McDonald (pmcdonald@csufresno.edu), ALA Council (alacoun@ala.org) dated Fri, Jun 27, 2008 at 1:16 PM subject [alacoun-ro] [alacoun] RE: [Fwd: [SafeLibraries] American Troops Defamed by ALA Councilor Peter McDonald].
http://lists.ala.org/sympa/arc/alacoun/2008-06/msg00202.html Accessed June 28, 2008.

[FN 2] Letter from James Casey (jcasey@oaklawnlibrary.org) to Stephen Denney, ALA Intellectual Freedom Forum (IFFORUM@ala.org) dated Friday, June 27, 2008 6:21 PM subject [alacoun-ro] [alacoun] RE: [Fwd: [SafeLibraries] American Troops Defamed by ALA Councilor Peter McDonald].
http://lists.ala.org/sympa/arc/alacoun/2008-06/msg00203.html Accessed June 28, 2008.

[FN 3] "Rare Iraqi Jewish Books 'Surface in Israel,'" by AFP, June 27, 2008.
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=080627132946.8u1ebsjp Accessed June 28, 2008.

[FN 4] Ibid.

[FN 5] See "American Troops Defamed by ALA Councilor Peter McDonald," by SafeLibraries, June 26, 2008.
http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2008/06/american-troops-defamed-by-ala.html Accessed June 28, 2008.

[FN 6] "Oak Lawn Library Vows to Keep Playboy on Shelf," by Jo Napolitano, Chicago Tribune, June 23, 2005.
http://preview.tinyurl.com/6myk74 Accessed June 28, 2008.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

American Troops Defamed by ALA Councilor Peter McDonald

Peter McDonald, American Library Association [ALA] Councilor and Dean of Library Services at Fresno State, has publicly defamed American troops with known false misinformation, but you be the judge. In an open letter to the ALA Council, Mr. McDonald said:

"Where's Mr. Kent's outrage on this travesty where, if we're talking library-related, the prisoners' Korans have been routinely desecrated by soldiers and where they have NO freedom to read?"


Everyone now knows Korans have not been "routinely desecrated by soldiers." And there is doubt any have ever been desecrated at all, let alone "routinely." See Koran Controversy. What Mr. McDonald has said is or should be known to him to be false and misleading, yet that did not stop him from saying it and other calumnies regarding those ALA members trying to support jailed Cuban librarians. He even discusses why American prison policy is worse than Castro's, all in an effort to convince other ALA members not to support all Cuban librarians and their intellectual freedom. Will it work?

Mr. McDonald's email was written using his official Fresno State position, as displayed in his signature lines. His own library's "Code of Conduct" specifically excludes harassment. "[H]arassing other users or Library staff IS FORBIDDEN," emphasis in original. McDonald apparently gets to harass those trying to assist Cuban librarians. Read his letter--is it not harassment? Does not his own policy apply to him?

Here is his entire letter so you can see for yourselves:

From: Peter Mcdonald
To: alacoun@ala.org
Date: Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 9:40 PM
Subject: [alacoun-ro] [alacoun] Re: Fwd: The same old Mis- Corrections

Dear Colleagues,

The facts of the matter regarding ALA and Cuba have been plainly spoken by ALA, its finest committees and caring librarians for well over a decade now. No amount of histrionics, evasions, outright lies, overblown hyperbole, bogus "facts" and name-calling, indeed this endless one-note nasal bleat perpetrated against our fine association by the writer below can change the simple fact that what we have here is the same tired old propaganda spewed forth by the "Friends" of Cuban Libraries as they were peddling by the bucket years ago.

These "Friends" are a shadowy "member supported" organization with no discernible structure, no dues, no list of members, no organizational officers and no explanation where their money actually does come from. My bet is Miami via U.S. government Helms-Burton slush funds (start by Googling Jorge Sanguinetty). Only Mr. Kent is listed on their website. Hmmmmm.

My sympathies go out to you my fellow Councilors. We have had to deal now 10 interminable years with Mr. Kent's endless vitriol and misinformation campaigns, indeed virtually since the day he was himself deported from Cuba for espionage when it was clear to Cuban authorities that he was in their country as nothing more than an agent provocateur. Some reports say he was in cahoots then (as now?) with Miami rightwing anti-Castro elements (among other fellow travelers, easily gleaned from net accessible sources, for example: http://www.counterpunch.org/barahona06182005.html but don't stop there, there's dozens of similar sites.)

As has been said a hundred times, there is not a shred of evidence that any of these Cubans were jailed because they were "librarians", still less that they were even 'librarians' at all. They were by the whole average citizens journalists, teachers, laborers, who were arrested, tried and convicted for knowingly subverting Cuban law repeatedly -- for one, distributing U.S. funded anti-government materials (among other crimes), not from 'libraries' but from their living rooms and store fronts.

I will grant the terms of imprisonment were harsh, but hey! America has the largest (corporate-run) prison population in the world not only in real numbers of the incarcerated (over a million+ citizens behind bars at last count), but in average terms of incarceration (10-15yrs), and as a percentage of general population in the top echelon. And we have hundreds (not a handful as in Cuba) of U.S.-held prisoners under solitary lock-up by our military who have never even been charged with a crime, let alone tried and convicted. Where's Mr. Kent's outrage on this travesty where, if we're talking library-related, the prisoners' Korans have been routinely desecrated by soldiers and where they have NO freedom to read?

Sender 'kidzread' might have at least extended Council the courtesy to both identify his/herself and to say (as is customary) why s/he was forwarding these discredited claims of Mr. Kent's to us all. I have emails from 10 years ago from Mr. Kent from which he obviously cut and pastes this one. Basta!

Peter McDonald
Dean of Library Services
Henry Madden Library
Fresno State
559-278-2403

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jailed Cuban Librarians Need Your Support to Uphold Intellectual Freedom

Jailed Cuban librarians need your support now! Make your voice heard now by contacting Barbara Silverman (kidzread@aol.com), Shixing Wen (shwen@umich.edu), and Cristina Ramirez (cdramirez@vcu.edu).


Read more about this at The Friends of Cuban Libraries. I cannot read Spanish but I am told these are pictures of beaten Cuban librarians.

Why is SafeLibraries involved? SafeLibraries attempts to educate communities about American Library Association [ALA] efforts to control the minds of the public in communities nationwide. While talk is loud and frequent about concerns for intellectual freedoms, such as it being age discrimination for librarians to keep children from inappropriate material, the reality is, as the Annoyed Librarian says, the ALA believes "Intellectual Freedom Means the Freedom to Think Like Us!" (See also "Long Live the Revolution.") And, in this very Cuban librarian matter, an ALA Councilor has rudely cut out my own comments in response to an ad hominem attack on me by another ALA Councilor (see "Censorship Love Note by ALA Councilor Rory Litwin"), both of whom hold Cuba harmless and berate our American government for one thing or another.

The point is, the ALA's claim to support intellectual freedom is false and is only used as a shield to ensure children remain exposed to ALA diktat that anything goes, leaving children unprotected by the community. This Cuba matter is an example of that false claim of support for intellectual freedom.

And SafeLibraries supports intellectual freedom everywhere. Allowing children access to inappropriate material is not intellectual freedom, no matter what the ALA says.

So please write to those I listed in the first paragraph and do it now. Support Cuban librarians, all of them, not just the government approved ones.

Thank you.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Go To Hell, ALA, Says Trend Setting Library Director; Wants to Implement Monitoring Software to Watch Computer Screens From Afar

A trend setting library director essentially tells the American Library Association [ALA] to go to hell, according a media report. In Lakewood, OH, Lakewood Public Library Director Kenneth Warren says, "If you need privacy, you should get your own computer." To this the media reports, "Warren's views on privacy for library computer users clash with those of the American Library Association." "Warren dropped his membership from the group after it suggested libraries erect privacy screens for public-access computers." In other words, go to hell says the library director. (Privacy screens are a known failure.)

The ALA's response in the article is that monitoring computers would make people "feel uncomfortable," in other words, embarrass them. Irrelevant, and the ALA knows it! ALA Deputy Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone was deeply involved in the US Supreme Court case the ALA lost and lost big. It is called US v. ALA. She appeared in the media discussing the case. Yet here she is, in yet another community, making believe the case doesn't exist, changing embarrassment to feeling uncomfortable. Here's what the Court said about embarrassment that the ALA apparently doesn't want you to know:

The District Court viewed unblocking and disabling as inadequate because some patrons may be too embarrassed to request them. 201 F. Supp. 2d, at 411. But the Constitution does not guarantee the right to acquire information at a public library without any risk of embarrassment.

This library director is a trend setter. "Lakewood was one of the first libraries to help police nab a patron viewing child pornography." (Recall the ALA is nearly silent about the library employee fired for doing the exact same thing.)

He's about to do it again, to set another trend. Pay attention, as this may be the wave of the future:

"Now the library ... might expand its monitoring policy by using free software that allows librarians to remotely monitor what a patron is viewing on a computer screen."

Yes, that's right! Read more at "No Privacy at Library; Some Officials Consider Use of Software to Monitor Patrons' Use of Internet on Public-Access Computers," by Molly Kavanaugh, Plain Dealer, Wednesday, Jun 18, 2008.

If ever a library deserved an award from Family Friendly Libraries, it would be this one.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Library Held Hostage Using Filtering System as Ransom

In "A Right Perspective: Cash Faces School, Community Accountability," by Marilyn Loeffel, Memphis Commercial Appeal, June 17, 2008, are the following two paragraphs (emphasis mine):

I spent eight years on the County Commission and served as chairwoman of the Education and Libraries Committee during several of those years. I also served on numerous ad hoc committees dealing with schools funding, accountability, needs assessment, capital improvement projects, consolidation of the systems, further division of the systems and on and on. Very little meaningful or significant change was ever accomplished. That is, until Commissioner Tommy Hart leaned over to me during one of my first budget cycles and asked if I would be willing to withhold $4 million from the library system until they installed an Internet filter system to prohibit access to pornography.

I looked at him in astonishment and said, "Absolutely, if we can do it." At which time I was privileged to learn the one most important lesson of politics. Hart pulled back his head, looked down into my novice eyes and said, "My dear, we can do anything with seven votes." He wanted to know if I had the guts to do it. I did. We held the library hostage using the filtering system as ransom. In the end, they got their money and we got a better library.

I ask Marilyn Loeffel and Tommy Hart to please detail and publish exactly what was the problem and exactly how it got resolved. Then let me know where it is published, else I'll publish it myself if they would like.

You see, Marilyn Loeffel and Tommy Hart are public servants who take the public trust seriously. They "have the guts" to stand against the special interests that may sexualize the children or otherwise expose the community to harm. I know a number of community leaders who could use a spine, and something these two write from experience battling the same special interests could go a long way toward helping such community leaders grow a spine. I would love to link to or publish that.

Let's see if I can encourage them to encourage others.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Library Denies Civil Rights of Christians and is "As Blatantly Un-American and Unconstitutional As You Can Get"

The Clermont County Public Library has apparently violated the civil rights of Christians and ignored American Library Association [ALA] meeting room policy to do so. Result? A lawsuit draining public funds to defend a defenseless point based on someone's Marxist agenda to totally remove religion from public life. As one person put it, this is "about as blatantly un-American and unconstitutional as you can get."

Apparently, Christians were going to use the library's public meeting room to teach people about financial discipline. You know, how to stop spending what you don't have and get rid of credit card debt. Because some Bible verses were to be used for motivational purposes during this training, the library denied the Christians access. Realizing the implications, the library decided to stop making its public meeting room available to the public anymore. From now on it would be restricted to library-related discussions only.

The people running the library believe themselves intimidating enough that no one would question how they get the hubris to deny people access to a room the public paid for with taxpayer money. Apparently, the public trust is subordinate to someone's anti-religious agenda. Apparently, "National Library Week" just celebrated by the library to "promote library use" is only an advertising slogan, not something to live by.

"We regret that this policy change will have the effect of not allowing the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts and other nonprofit groups the ability to use our meeting rooms," said board President Joe Braun. I "regret" to point out this library has exceeded its authority by denying access to a public accommodation. I "regret" to say that freedom of speech and civil rights are being curtailed by the library. The lawsuit may prove this. Promoting library use is not so important after all.

Compare this to a library that recently refused to allow its public meeting room to be used by someone speaking against Israel and in favor of Palestinians. In that case the ALA got directly involved to ensure the pro-Palestinian speaker was heard. "However, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, pointed out that, when libraries provide meeting room space, they can’t engage in viewpoint discrimination, as noted in the ALA’s Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights regarding meeting rooms." See "Greenwich Library, CT, Rescinds Permission for Pro-Palestinian Speaker, Then Reverses Course," by Norman Oder, Library Journal, February 14, 2008.

The ALA policy on this matter seems to indicate the library will lose the lawsuit and ought to apologize and reverse course now before wasting more public funding:

If meeting rooms in libraries supported by public funds are made available to the general public for non-library sponsored events, the library may not exclude any group based on the subject matter to be discussed or based on the ideas that the group advocates. For example, if a library allows charities and sports clubs to discuss their activities in library meeting rooms, then the library should not exclude partisan political or religious groups from discussing their activities in the same facilities. If a library opens its meeting rooms to a wide variety of civic organizations, then the library may not deny access to a religious organization.


Apparently, the library is, even under ALA policies, guilty of freedom of speech violations. Apparently the library has denied the civil rights of Christians. This is no surprise to me as I just blogged about another library denying someone's civil rights, this time a Chinese American woman. Children have civil rights to access inappropriate material in public libraries, but Christians have no civil rights to quote the Bible.

Be that as it may, the ALA policy on this matter seems to indicate the library will lose the lawsuit. I call upon the library to apologize and reverse course before wasting more public funding. I am certain the ADF will drop the suit if only the library agrees to reverse its curtailment of freedom of speech and allow the Christians to attend their financial seminar. Indeed I urge people to attend that seminar as everyone could use financial assistance.

Because I have once again presented unbelievable information, here is information on this Batavia, OH, incident:


This is already the subject of a lawsuit. Here are some relevant documents:

Remember, "Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons—individuals, groups or government officials—find objectionable or dangerous." Has the Clermont County Public Library committed censorship? Curtailed freedom of speech? Violated civil rights? Employed a double standard? Exceeded its authority? Failed to keep the public trust? You decide, then tell everyone what you think.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Library Violates Rights of Chinese American; Women Beaten, Warned Not to Call Police Without Permission, and Banned for Using Husband's Library Card

A library may have violated the rights of a Chinese American, according to Chin-Li Mou v. City of San Jose and San Jose Public Library Education Park Branch. Chin-Li Mou was banned for six months for using her husband's library card to obtain access to the Internet. She asked some children to simmer down given library policy on that issue. The library ordered her not to disturb the children despite their violating library policy. One of the children causing the disturbance followed her outside after the library kicked her out for trying to get the library to follow its own policy. Then the child beat her mercilessly. Unbelievably, when police arrived at the woman's call to 911, the assailant's school security intervened and prevented the police from speaking with the woman!

When the woman called the police another day after seeing the assailant in the library, this time the library staff intervened. Likely as a result of that intervention, the police were "rude and disrespectful" toward her. The police said the children "were born in this country and since [she] was not fortunate enough to be born here [her] rights were subordinated to their rights." She became an American eleven years ago. The police then warned her she would be arrested if she "so much as talked to the Independent high school students."

Did the library defend her freedom of speech? No. Did the library decry the police's unequal treatment based on her national origin? No. Has the American Library Association [ALA] taken any action? No. Instead, the library warned her to get permission before calling the police. Imagine--this is the same library that opposes asking librarians for permission to disable Internet filters and is recommending no filters at all.

Calling the police to prevent assault and battery? Get permission. Viewing child p()rn? No permission is needed. Freedom of speech for Chinese Americans? No. Freedom of speech for child p()rnographers? What do you think--has the Lindsay, CA, library employee fired for calling police on someone viewing child p()rn been rehired yet? No, and don't hold your breath.

This is in the same library that is misleading the public regarding San Jose Councilman Pete Constant's efforts to rid the library of the ALA's influence. See "Demonstration Proves Library Filters Work; San Jose Councilman Pete Constant Counters Library Director's False Claims."

This is the same library where the chief librarian, Jane Light, was caught by the media flat out lying. See "P()rn, Sex Crimes At Libraries; I-Team Investigation," KGO, 29 Nov 2006.

You have to read the complaint itself to believe this. Here's the complaint, and I found it easiest to click the "Download PDF" link at the bottom:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

ALA Opposes FISA; Joins Soros, ACLU, and PFAW to Restrict War on Terror

In another action that favors terrorists targeting Americans and has nothing to do with libraries, the American Library Association [ALA] has joined with George Soros, the ACLU, and People for the American Way to attempt to restrict the war on terror. Specifically, the ALA is opposing legislation by Senator Bond to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA] to facilitate surveillance of overseas communications that is essential to stopping terrorist attacks.

What does this have to do with libraries?

Is this part of the political payoff for George Soros's giving $350,000 to the ALA just weeks ago? See "Soros, the ALA, and Terrorists."

Anyway, those are my opinions/questions. You be the judge:

Source: http://lists.ala.org/sympa/arc/alacoun/2008-06/msg00088.html
  • From: "Emily Sheketoff"
  • To:
  • Cc:
  • Subject: [alacoun] Sign On Letter on FISA
  • Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2008 16:11:44 -0400

The following is a letter ALA signed onto about FISA

June 9, 2008

Re: Opposition to the FISA Legislation Proposed by Senator Bond

Dear Member of Congress:

As organizations that are deeply committed to both civil liberties and effective intelligence-gathering, we strongly urge you to oppose legislation recently outlined by Senator Bond to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This bill unreasonably and unnecessarily authorizes broad surveillance of Americans’ international communications without meaningful Fourth Amendment protections: no individualized warrant issued by a court, no determination of probable cause of wrongdoing, and no specification of the location or means of the surveillance.

Touted as a compromise to end an impasse between House and Senate versions of FISA legislation, the bill proposed by Senator Bond is far from a compromise. Its chief provisions are not significantly different from those contained in the bill passed by the Senate in February of this year (S. 2248). Like that measure, the "compromise" would threaten Americans' privacy by severely curtailing judicial review and failing to include other reasonable civil liberties protections that appear in the House-passed version of the legislation (H.R. 3773). Neither Sen. Bond nor the administration has made a persuasive case that these sweeping new powers are needed or that existing authorities are inadequate to ensure the effectiveness of U.S. intelligence-gathering activities.

In addition, this legislation would use the secret FISA court to rubber stamp a grant of immunity to telecommunications companies that assisted with unlawful warrantless surveillance.

The Bond proposal does incorporate a few improvements, including an audit of illegal warrantless surveillance and a provision reaffirming that FISA is the exclusive means by which foreign intelligence surveillance can lawfully be conducted in the United States. But these modest concessions do not offset the vast new unchecked surveillance powers the bill confers on the government.

Among the most important reasons to oppose this bill are the following:

�� The bill would authorize massive warrantless surveillance. The bill allows the government to intentionally acquire millions of Americans’ international communications with no individualized warrant or determination of probable cause, so long as one party to a phone call or e-mail is believed to be located abroad and the purpose is to gather foreign intelligence.

�� The bill would require no individualized warrant even when an American’s communications clearly are of interest to the government. The bill requires an individualized warrant only if and when the government decides to "target" a particular American by using the person’s phone number or e-mail address to select his or her communications for acquisition. While the legislation provides for judicial

Letter of June 9, 2008 Page 2

�� review of targeting and other guidelines, the court procedures are inadequate to meet Fourth Amendment requirements.

�� The bill would curtail effective judicial review of surveillance. While the bill contains provisions for FISA court review of targeting and other guidelines, those provisions do not provide a meaningful role for the court in ensuring that the government does not seize and data-mine the private communications of law-abiding Americans. Moreover, the bill contains an exception for "exigent circumstances" that could be misused to circumvent even the limited court review provided by the bill with respect to new surveillance programs.

�� The bill would grant retroactive immunity for wrongdoing. The bill would give blanket immunity to companies that aided the government in conducting warrantless electronic surveillance of Americans. Like S. 2248, the bill would direct the court to dismiss privacy lawsuits against telecommunications providers if they received written assurances that the President had authorized the surveillance—assurances which in fact they received.

One change which makes the "compromise" worse than the Senate bill is a provision which would require the transfer of all of the lawsuits brought against the telecommunications providers from federal district court to the secret FISA court—a body whose only job for the past thirty years has been to approve FISA surveillance applications, not to try cases. This is not a compromise on immunity; it is the same old immunity dressed up to look like a judicial proceeding.

�� The bill would not provide a reasonable sunset. The bill would authorize the government to conduct this massive surveillance for six years, just like the original Senate bill.

The proposed bill would grant unnecessary and unconstitutional powers to the Executive Branch. We urge you oppose it, and to vote against any legislation that contains the defects described above.

Thank you for considering our views.

American Civil Liberties Union

American Library Association

Arab-America Anti-Discrimination Committee

Association of Research Libraries

Bill of Rights Defense Committee Letter of June 9, 2008 Page 3

Center for American Progress Action Fund

Center for Democracy & Technology

Center for National Security Studies

Congressman Bob Barr, Liberty Strategies

Defending Dissent Foundation

Doug Bandow, Vice President for Policy, Citizen Outreach Project

DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Fairfax County Privacy Council

Friends Committee on National Legislation

League of Women Voters of the United States

Liberty Coalition

MAS Freedom

OMB Watch

Open Society Policy Center

OpenTheGovernment.org

People For the American Way

Privacy Lives

Republican Liberty Caucus

The Multiracial Activist

United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation



  • [alacoun] Sign On Letter on FISA, Emily Sheketoff, 06/10/2008

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Library Admits Filters Work and People Want Them; Boulder Public Library Defies ALA

The Boulder Public Library is saying Internet filters work well and people want them. This is the exact opposite of what the American Library Association wants people to think. See "Boulder Library Computers May Feature Porn Filter," by Ryan Morgan, Boulder & County News, June 5, 2008. All of these people are saying things anathema to the ALA:
  • Colorado passed a law regarding state-wide Internet filtering ( http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdelib/Filtering.htm ) in 2004, and filters have vastly improved since then. Filters have improved so much that Ray Ingraham, the library's computer services manager, said, "I believe filtering has come a long ways." "I think all of the objections that people had are probably gone."
  • Library spokeswoman Jennifer Bray said it is common for unfiltered computers to be used for porn viewing.
  • Library commissioner Steve Clason said, "I don't object to people reading, or stores selling, Hustler magazine ... but I don't think it would be appropriate for us to use public funds to purchase it for the library collection." "Similarly, I don't think that making Hustler.com available is an appropriate use of public funds, or that preventing its access from publicly owned computers is censorship."
  • "Commissioner Stephen Topping said it might make sense to install a new system now, especially since filtering software could work well with a terminal-reservation system the library just installed."
These statements directly oppose ALA diktat that 1) filters don't work, 2) porn viewing is rare, 3) filters may lead to or actually be censorship, and 4) filters don't make sense. (Also, they oppose the ACLU view that pornography is legal and must therefore be provided in a public library.) The Boulder Public Library is essentially defying the ALA on these issues, though not in any open or obvious fashion.

SafeLibraries takes note that these library employees and commissioners are speaking the truth and are not afraid to say so. They should be considered as role models for other communities. Their community should recognize them for keeping the public trust instead of acting to spread the ALA's influence in yet another local library. I will be happy to provide further information if requested.

And credit goes to the media as well for not allowing the usual ALA propaganda to bias the report. The heading could have been written with the usual ALA slant, but that was not done in this case. What a breath of fresh air.

Bravo all around.

Boulder Library Computers May Feature Porn Filter

John Braus surfs the Internet at the Boulder Public Library's main branch Wednesday. Braus recently moved from Austin and is using the library's computers until he can get his own service set up.

Photo by Paul Aiken

John Braus surfs the Internet at the Boulder Public Library's main branch Wednesday. Braus recently moved from Austin and is using the library's computers until he can get his own service set up.

The Boulder Public Library's patrons may find a filtered Internet in the near future -- but officials say most Web surfers probably won't notice the change.

Members of the city's Library Commission on Wednesday night were scheduled to discuss their options for buying software to screen out porn from Internet connections, four years after a state law passed that requires libraries to do so.

Ray Ingraham, the library's computer services manager, said the library has resisted the technology since the state Legislature imposed the requirement in 2004 by pleading financial distress -- which, under the law, gave library officials more time. Filtering systems can cost nearly $20,000 to install and up to $40,000 annually to maintain.

But the budget situation has improved slightly, and this spring commissioners asked Ingraham to spell out how they might go about complying with the law.

When state lawmakers imposed the filtering law, Ingraham said, the software was still crude, blocking educational Web sites about human sexuality, for example, or medical references to breast cancer.

Those days are pretty much past, Ingraham said.

"I believe filtering has come a long ways," he said. "I think all of the objections that people had are probably gone."

The state law -- which was written to avoid the First Amendment pitfalls that got earlier legislative attempts thrown out of court -- requires librarians to disable the filters upon request.

It's not uncommon for patrons today to use the library's unfiltered computers to look at pornographic pictures, library spokeswoman Jennifer Bray said.

When staff members hear complaints about graphic pictures, they ask the people looking at them to stop, she said.

"If it's a repeated issue, they can be banned for a day, a week, a month or a year" for each offense, Bray said. She said library officials just last week imposed a year-long ban on a patron who wouldn't stop looking at porn.

Library commissioner Steve Clason said he's inclined to support installing the filtering technology now that the library has a little more money, and because the technology has improved so much in the past few years.

It makes more sense to automatically screen some content rather than having library staff members spend their time chasing porn viewers, he said.

"I don't object to people reading, or stores selling, Hustler magazine ... but I don't think it would be appropriate for us to use public funds to purchase it for the library collection," he said. "Similarly, I don't think that making Hustler.com available is an appropriate use of public funds, or that preventing its access from publicly owned computers is censorship."

Commissioner Stephen Topping said it might make sense to install a new system now, especially since filtering software could work well with a terminal-reservation system the library just installed. A change in the location of some terminals gives kids easier access to unfiltered Internet content as well, which is another reason to make the move, he said.

But Topping said he's concerned about the cost, and he wants to make sure installing the system won't hurt the libraries' ability to provide basic services.

"If there were a community clamor for it, that would have some impact, but we're not hearing that right now," he said.

As he checked his e-mail at a Boulder Public Library terminal, Spencer Hennigan, 25, said the proposed move toward filtering doesn't bother him. The library's a public place, he said -- which makes it a less-than-ideal spot for looking at porn.

"I can see why we want to protect kids from that stuff," he said.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Hartford Hears a Who! Media and Mayor Chart Changes in Hartford Public Library

The Hartford Public Library had its ears closed to complaints from librarians for so long that the librarians were forced to go public. I have already blogged about this at "Hartford Librarians Should Sue to Rid ALA Influence."

Now along comes the media, the police chief, and the mayor, and it appears Hartford citizens are finally being heard. Hartford Hears a Who!

But the library director is still misleading the public, ever so politely though. Read this letter I have written to governmental members and the media, among others:

Dear Mayor Perez and Other Hartford Governmental Leaders,

There is no First Amendment right to p()rnography in the public library. Any librarian saying there is is either seriously mistaken or is intentionally misleading. The library director at Hartford Public Library defends viewing p()rnography as a First Amendment right. See "Librarian Defends Viewing P()rn at Library; Chief Librarian Cites First Amendment Right," by WFSB.com Channel 3 Eyewitness News, May 23, 2008. [ http://www.wfsb.com/news/16379317/detail.html ] Nevermind that the library is rife with criminal activity including rape, "libraries across the country support First Amendment rights," says Chief Librarian Louise Blalock.

Yes, they do, but there is no First Amendment right to access p()rnography in public libraries. Yet you hear it in library after library, news story after news story, as if it were true. For example, the library director in Santa Cruz, CA, says, "CIPA only applies to adolescents. Adult men can continue using a public library with internet filters to view p()rnography. CIPA does nothing to address that." [ http://talkwisdom.blogspot.com/2008/05/refusing-to-protect-children.html ]

Congratulations to Dennis House of WFSB.com Channel 3 Eyewitness News for being one of the few reporters not taken in by ALA propaganda. The same goes for the Hartford Courant editorial board [ http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-library.artmay30,0,4120003.story ]. But no matter how successful are the propaganda efforts to claim p()rnography in public libraries is a First Amendment right, that is simple not true. It is false.

P()rnography may be excluded by applying existing law. Likely the library was created by some legal instrument that specified the uses for the library, and p()rngraphy was likely not part of that list, either explicitly or implicitly. If librarians are claiming the First Amendment allows p()rnography and they act on that claim, they are not only wrong, but that are acting outside of the law that created the library. To that extent, the government has every right and duty to step in to ensure the library is complying with the law. Yes, a library is autonomous, but not to defy the law.

Modern Internet filtering software properly deployed and maintained is the very best means for keeping p()rnography out of the library. That is why it is opposed so forcefully. It is no coincidence that librarians claiming the First Amendment right to p()rnography in public libraries claim that Internet filters 1) don't work, 2) are too restrictive, 3) are too broad, 4) are too expensive, 5) are too hard to maintain, 6) never work perfectly, 7) provide a "false sense of security," and 8) are no substitute for parental supervision. Even the ACLU admits filters are 95% effective and no longer block out health-related web sites. [ACLU v. Gonzales - http://www.paed.uscourts.gov/documents/opinions/07D0346P.pdf ]

There is a common misconception that a library is an open public forum. Your library's Internet policy [ http://www.hplct.org/policies/internet_policy.shtml ]crystallizes that as "The Library is a forum for all points of view." Public libraries are not open public fora where anything goes. Internet filters may be used to extend existing book collection policies and practices over the Internet. Filters will never be perfect, so a simple request to a librarian will temporarily bypass the filter, no questions asked--although that use must be for a bona fide purpose. Everything in this paragraph comes from US v. ALA, the US Supreme Court case where the ALA lost on the very same issues the Hartford Public Library is raising. [ US v. ALA - http://laws.findlaw.com/us/539/194.html ]. You must read US v. ALA. US v. ALA will be your guide to the issues already asked and answered but that your library director attempts to resurrect as if the US Supreme Court has not already addressed the issues. If there is one take away from this email, it is that you should read US v. ALA carefully.

The library's efforts to reraise the same issues is merely a desperate attempt to nullify US v. ALA in Hartford. Just remember, "The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree." Your media reveals the public agrees. The Hartford Public Library does not agree. Indeed the library claims to follow the ALA's "Library Bill of Rights" that essentially claims it is "age" discrimination to keep children from s()exually inappropriate material [ http://www.hplct.org/policies/internet_policy.shtml ]. Whom should you believe?

Now you have an unusual advantage. Your media is apparently not in the hip pocket of the ALA. That is rare and you should take advantage of that. Notice how the library attacked the media as, what was it, taking a cheap shot? A cheap shot at what? At disclosing how the law is being violated by allowing unlimited p()rnography into the library and all the crime that is attracted in as a result? Do you really want to head in the direction of the Minneapolis Public Library? See Adamson v. Minneapolis Public Library [ http://www.safelibraries.org/adamson/ ], and especially the WCCO investigative reports dated May 10, 2000 [ http://web.mac.com/safelibraries/Adamson/MediaReports.html ]. That library was overrun with criminality for years despite public outcry by the librarians, sound familiar? The library also had an overlord who also applied ALA diktat instead of following the law. Result? The EEOC found the library guilty of s()xual harassment and the resultant civil case resulted in a $435,000 settlement.

Looking now at the library director's response [ http://www.courant.com/community/news/hfd/hc-blalockstatement,0,5929826.story ], we see a perfect example of someone who knows how to mislead people so as to maintain the ALA's control through its local acolyte over the local community. She claims the "safety and well-being of all of our customers is a top priority," and "the Hartford Public Library has quickly moved to address any and all issues concerning security in and around our building," but otherwise says absolutely nothing of substance. Where is an admission of what went wrong? You cannot fix a problem until you admit you have one. Where is an admission that p()rnography in the public library is not a First Amendment right?

Where is an admission that the Internet policy is in error when it says, "As with library materials, access to the Internet is the responsibility of the individual, or for children, the parent or guardian." No, the library is required to act within the law and not allow the "anything goes" attitude implied in that policy. As with library materials that pass through a selection process, and are not the responsibility of various individuals, so should Internet content be selected, and US v. ALA says this explicitly and that Internet filters may be used to do this. Nothing Dennis House and The Courant have disclosed has been addressed concretely--only very polite and generalized language is used. It's a well-written letter that means nothing will be done to solve the problem other than moving the deck chairs on the Titanic. A change to the Internet policy to bring it in compliance with the law and the community is definitely needed.

Please consider the information and references I have provided. You have the power to require the library to act lawfully within its enabling legal document. Internet filters are the best means for doing so, and even the ACLU, formerly with the ALA in attempting to overturn the Children's Internet Protection Act, now says filters are 95% effective and no longer block health-related information. I'll bet the crime rate in the library will drop dramatically once that powerful p()rn magnet is removed from the premises.

Here are links to numerous stories on this topic: http://del.icio.us/plan2succeed/HartfordCT and this includes my previous blog entitled, "Hartford Librarians Should Sue to Rid ALA Influence" at http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2008/05/hartford-librarians-should-sue-to-rid.html .

Here are actual quotes from US v. ALA for those who do not have the time to read the whole case:

"Because public libraries' use of Internet filtering software does not violate their patrons' First Amendment rights, CIPA does not induce libraries to violate the Constitution...."

"Thus, the public forum principles on which the District Court relied are out of place in the context of this case. Internet access in public libraries is neither a 'traditional' nor a 'designated' public forum."

"Internet terminals are not acquired by a library in order to create a public forum for Web publishers to express themselves. Rather, a library provides such access for the same reasons it offers other library resources: to facilitate research, learning, and recreational pursuits by furnishing materials of requisite and appropriate quality. The fact that a library reviews and affirmatively chooses to acquire every book in its collection, but does not review every Web site that it makes available, is not a constitutionally relevant distinction. The decisions by most libraries to exclude p()rnography from their print collections are not subjected to heightened scrutiny; it would make little sense to treat libraries' judgments to block online p()rnography any differently. Moreover, because of the vast quantity of material on the Internet and the rapid pace at which it changes, libraries cannot possibly segregate, item by item, all the Internet material that is appropriate for inclusion from all that is not. While a library could limit its Internet collection to just those sites it found worthwhile, it could do so only at the cost of excluding an enormous amount of valuable information that it lacks the capacity to review. Given that tradeoff, it is entirely reasonable for public libraries to reject that approach and instead exclude certain categories of content, without making individualized judgments that everything made available has requisite and appropriate quality."

"Concerns over filtering software's tendency to erroneously 'overblock' access to constitutionally protected speech that falls outside the categories software users intend to block are dispelled by the ease with which patrons may have the filtering software disabled."

"Especially because public libraries have traditionally excluded p()rnographic material from their other collections, Congress could reasonably impose a parallel limitation on its Internet assistance programs. As the use of filtering software helps to carry out these programs, it is a permissible condition under Rust."

"Justice Kennedy concluded that if, as the Government represents, a librarian will unblock filtered material or disable the Internet software filter without significant delay on an adult user's request, there is little to this case. There are substantial Government interests at stake here: The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree. Given this interest, and the failure to show that adult library users' access to the material is burdened in any significant degree, the statute is not unconstitutional on its face."

"The statute's restrictions satisfy these constitutional demands. Its objectives--of restricting access to obscenity, child p()rnography, and material that is comparably harmful to minors--are 'legitimate,' and indeed often 'compelling.'"

"No clearly superior or better fitting alternative to Internet software filters has been presented."

"The District Court viewed unblocking and disabling as inadequate because some patrons may be too embarrassed to request them. 201 F. Supp. 2d, at 411. But the Constitution does not guarantee the right to acquire information at a public library without any risk of embarrassment."