House votes to curtail warrantless FBI book-snooping

Yesterday members of the U.S. House of Representatives temporarily broke free of their puppet strings and “handed President Bush the first defeat in his effort to preserve the broad powers of the [so-called] USA Patriot Act.” Two hundred and thirty-eight representatives voted “to curtail the FBI’s ability to seize library and bookstore records for terrorism investigations.”

Although we in the Maud household celebrated by reserving copies of The Anarchist Cookbook, Bush has threatened a veto of any law that weakens the act.

Anna Weinberg pointed out in Tuesday’s Book Standard that the House vote is

thanks in large part to United States Rep. Bernie Sanders (I, Vt.) and the support he’s had from the publishing industry. Since 2003, Sanders has been working closely with the Campaign for Reader Privacy, a joint initiative of PEN American Center, the American Library Association, the Association of American Publishers and the American Booksellers Association, who last year collectively gathered more than 200,000 signatures on petitions asking Congress to amend Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.


Background reading:

  • In 2003, hero Dahlia Lithwick provided a four-part guide to the act.
  • In December Rachel Donadio made the specious argument that everybody should just chill out about Section 215 because there’s no way of proving that it has actually given rise to censorship or unwarranted prosecution.


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