In case you didn’t hear, the “Connecticut Four” are finally able to speak out after enduring the months-long gag order they had been restricted by when the FBI demanded records about their library patrons under the Patriot Act. See the articles in the NY Times this morning,
Four Librarians Finally Break Silence in Records Case and Librarians Decry Patriot Act Gag Order (free subscriptions required).
According to a statement
released by ALA , “The Plaintiffs were finally allowed to speak publicly after lawyers representing the government withdrew an appeal to keep their identities hidden after Federal District Court Judge Janet C. Hall declared the perpetual gag order that accompanies National Security Letters unconstitutional.”
The four librarians were:
George Christian of Windsor, Ct., executive director of the Library Connection, Inc ., a consortium of libraries in the central part of the state
Peter Chase, the vice president of Library Connection and director of the Plainville Public Library
Janet Nocek, director of the Portland Library and Library Connection secretary
Barbara Bailey, director of the Welles-Turner Memorial Library and president of Library Connection
The librarians expressed “frustration about the sweeping powers given to law enforcement authorities by the USA Patriot Act.”
”I am incensed that the government uses provisions of the Patriot Act to justify unrestrained and secret access to the records of libraries,” said George Christian of Windsor, Conn., executive director of the Library Connection, Inc., a consortium of libraries in the central part of the state.”
George Christian was the first one to receive the confidential request from the F.B.I. He was quoted as saying:
“I was shocked by the restraints the gag order imposed on me,” said Mr. Christian, who said that after receiving the request he was unsure whether he could consult a lawyer or his board of directors.
“The fact that the government can and is eavesdropping on patrons in libraries has a chilling effect, because they really don’t know if Big Brother is looking over their shoulder,” he added.
Being free to speak now, weeks after the Patriot Act was reauthorized for several more years, was “like being allowed to call the Fire Department after the building has burned down,” he said.
ALA’s release , incoming president Leslie Burger hopes that the stand they took will have an effect in creating new laws that “better reflect what this country stands for.”
I’m still laboring over my silly little 15-20 minute presentation. I’m VERY pleased that last week I collected detailed screen shots of everything I wanted to show because now one of the catalogs I was going to use as an example is off line! (I was originally inspired to go the full screen shot route rather than live demo because of a couple of spectacular failures I saw recently at another conference.)
Luckily, after Thursday morning I won’t have to slog away at this any more. It’s all a head game, I know. If I hadn’t been surprised to see my name listed as one of the two-person KEYNOTE panel at the conference (when I’d thought it was just any old panel discussion) I’d have finished the stupid thing by now. What I’d give for a brain transplant some days. All I want is to be brilliant, confident, and witty, and I suppose charming wouldn’t be a bad idea either… Is that too much to ask?
What a way to enter into the conference presentation arena… I’ve never presented at an event before.
On a happier note, my mom and dad and wonderful, huge, 100-pound dog are going to be arriving any second now, and they’re staying until Sunday. I just hope the dog and the cat can make peace by then, though that’s doubtful. I can see it all now: after two days of them going after each other my neighbors will collectively petition to have me evicted.