I was scanning some of the testimony from today’s hearings about renewing the USAPA. If you just want the updates, please read Declan over at News.com. If you’d like to really see what people had to say about it, perhaps your representative, you can read the testimony here. I’ll quote a bit from what my Senator had to say.
For example, many of us have expressed concerns with the business records subpoena power in section 215, and its implications for libraries and booksellers. I have cosponsored legislation, introduced by Senator Feingold, that addresses this provision.
Before we rush to renew any controversial powers created by the PATRIOT Act, we need to understand how these powers have been used, and whether they have been effective. A few weeks ago, we celebrated the first National Sunshine Week with a hearing on open government and bipartisan calls for responsiveness and accountability. We should carry that theme into this process of oversight and legislating.
And you can also read Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez repeating nearly word for word what Ashcroft had to say about Section 215.
Even though libraries and bookstores are not specifically mentioned in the provision, section 215 does prohibit the government from using this authority to conduct investigations “of a United States person solely on the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.” In other words, the library habits of ordinary Americans are of no interest to those conducting terrorism investigations, nor are they permitted to be.