So what is it, kids?

Associated Press:

In a slap at President Bush, lawmakers voted Wednesday to block the Justice Department and the FBI from using the Patriot Act to peek at library records and bookstore sales slips.

The House voted 238-187 despite a veto threat from Bush to block the part of the anti-terrorism law that allows the government to investigate the reading habits of terror suspects.

United Press International:

The House voted Wednesday to let die a Patriot Act provision that allows the FBI and Justice Department to look at library records.

The vote to let the provision expire at the end of the year was 238-187, reversing last year’s decision.


The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday defied President Bush by approving a measure making it harder for federal agents to secretly gather information on people’s library reading habits and bookstore purchases.

The House voted 238-187 to scale back the government’s powers to conduct secret investigations that were authorized by the Patriot Act, a post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism law.

Mutated versions of these three source stories are floating around the web. Reuters has its shit straight. I quoted the AP version in my post below, and it’s somewhat misleading at best. But UPI is just completely wrong… I find it all very amusing. Three different stories saying three different things… This is why I trust the media so much…

What’s wrong with the other 187 nitwits?

Wired News: House Votes to Limit Patriot Act

Despite a veto threat from President Bush, lawmakers voted 238-187 to block the part of the antiterrorism law that allows the government to investigate the reading habits of terror suspects.

So what were those other 187 thinking???

“If there are terrorists in libraries studying how to fly planes, how to put together biological weapons, how to put together chemical weapons, nuclear weapons … we have to have an avenue through the federal court system so that we can stop the attack before it occurs,” said Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Florida).

Yes, I’m so sure that they’d use their real names to check those books out, and that they wouldn’t use cash at the bookstore. Good point there, Tommy.

Of course, as John at Powerline points out:

Several things will immediately jump out at anyone patient enough to read section 215. First, it doesn’t mention libraries. It authorizes the FBI to seek an order permitting it to obtain “tangible things,” among which are records and documents of all types. There is no obvious reason why this section should have provoked hysteria about libraries and bookstores.

Second, the statute requires the FBI to obtain an order from the FISA court, following a procedure that was first established during the 1970s. So the FBI can’t unilaterally subpoena anything.

Third, the statute specifically provides that no such order can be based on activities that are protected by the First Amendment.

So, I don’t think the amendment is a big deal. Except that it’s open to interpretation what “solely protected by the First Amendment” means. Also, there’s the “in yer face, Bush” bit. Basically, that it was passed says to me “See? We’re all for civil liberties! Never mind that this amendment is essentially meaningless, or that we’re just trying to distract you from focusing on the bits that we’re keeping in.”

Such as…

No person shall disclose to any other person (other than those persons necessary to produce the tangible things under this section) that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has sought or obtained tangible things under this section.

Because that’s the jive I’m not hip with. Dunno about anyone else. That’s the bit that allows for abuse (oh well — at least we won’t know about the abuse). So, go celebrate, why don’tcha now. It’s a happy happy but purely symbolic act. That we haven’t even seen the text of, yet.

Anyway, I’m still laughing at the idea of terrorists hanging out at the library. Sitting around a table with their study group… Peering out shiftily from behind copies of “Nuclear Physics for Dummies”, “101 Creative New Ways to Slaughter the American Infidel” and “Chicken Soup for the Terrorist Soul”…

I’d believe him if he claimed that demolition of the economy is an ‘inside job’

Former Bush Team Member Says WTC Collapse Likely A Controlled Demolition And ‘Inside Job’

A former chief economist in the Labor Department during President Bush’s first term now believes the official story about the collapse of the WTC is ‘bogus,’ saying it is more likely that a controlled demolition destroyed the Twin Towers and adjacent Building No. 7.

I don’t know why people want to believe that 9/11 was an inside job. I’m sure that the reasons are many and varied. But this guy exemplifies one theory that’s come up a number of times:

Reynolds, now a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, also believes it’s ‘next to impossible’ that 19 Arab Terrorists alone outfoxed the mighty U.S. military, adding the scientific conclusions about the WTC collapse may hold the key to the entire mysterious plot behind 9/11.

It’s pretty scary when you think about it, that a few guys with boxcutters could have done what they did, and done it so easily. But it’s not a very involved scheme, and hijacking an airplane is probably at the top of the list of “most unoriginal terrorist plots”. But it’s on that list for a reason. It’s not terribly complicated, very little equipment to gather, no mucking about trying to buy black market uranium and such. And unless your terrorist buddies can’t keep a secret, it’s a secret that’s probably pretty easy to keep. So what’s so hard to believe? What was stopping them? What’s stopping them now? Not a whole hell of a lot, apart from a few inconveniences at the airport (okay, maybe it’s at least marginally harder to hijack a plane these days, but I wouldn’t know, I haven’t tried).

So let’s not think about how easy it was, and how easy it might still be for someone motivated enough. Too stressful. Who can live, thinking thoughts like that all day. Let’s cling to our belief that no one can outfox the Americans. If anyone could have done this, it had to have been through a highly involved “mysterious plot” that reached to the very top of the United States chain of command. Let’s strengthen those beliefs by nitpicking the quantitative data given to us, and despite that we are not qualified to do so, and have no fucking idea what we’re talking about, let’s assume that we are correct in doing so and that the engineers are just plain wrong (hell, that they’re actively lying to us), because it supports the conclusion that we are committed to believing in no matter what they say, anyway.

Well, I hope it makes life easier. at least it’s a more interesting story. It needed some spicing up. The real one is kinda… meh.

I shouldn’t need to point out that this latest conspiracy article that’s circulating and being used as yet another log to fuel the fires of lunacy is based on the beliefs of a goddamn economist. Er, yeah. Those Bush economists don’t even have the economy figured out, let alone the intricacies of structural engineering. And this guy doesn’t even have anything to add, he just says “yeah, I kinda sorta think that those conspiracy guys have a point, but since I don’t really understand what any of these people are saying, I’m just going to parrot the guys I choose to side with”. No inside information or anything. Boring. Oh, but he must know what he’s talking about. He has a tenuous connection to the White House!