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.”
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”…