Easily Scared Booksellers Takes on Patriot Act
Documenting and Exposing the Liberal Political Agenda of the New York Times.
By: ClayWaters

Easily Scared Booksellers Take on Patriot Act

Jane Gordon writes about Connecticut communities against the Patriot Act in Sunday's "In Patriots' Cradle, the Patriot Act Faces Scrutiny." This is the latest Times' attempt to spread (unlabeled) liberal concern about "civil rights" in libraries to its readership, following in the footsteps of an August story that carried the paranoid headline "Sensing the Eyes of Big Brother, and Pushing Back -- Towns Speak Up Against Patriot Act."

Though it's clear from the generous quotes that the bookstore managers and librarians quoted in the story probably lean leftward, the closing thing to a liberal label in the story is when Gordon notes: "Connecticut is a blue state, and no matter how nice President Bush is to Connecticut, he is unlikely to turn it red."

Gordon begins by likening the book purveyors who are complaining about the Patriot Act to the original colonial rebels: "Fran Keilty has been stopping customers at her bookstore, the Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot, to give them an earful about the USA Patriot Act. Mrs. Keilty had called her legislator in Washington, Representative Nancy Johnson, to complain and has asked customers to do the same. When the USA Patriot Act, the antiterrorism law whose simple name belies it staggering complexity, was passed after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, grass-roots efforts to reform the legislation grew. Now, as Congress debates whether to renew provisions of the act, which are scheduled to expire at the end of the year, towns around Connecticut are staging their own version of the Boston Tea Party. In a quiet revolt, many towns have been passing resolutions condemning the act and urging Congress to kill it. These resolutions don't have the strength of law, but are meant to give people a voice on what they say is an injustice."

Gordon finally gets to the meat of the concerns: "At the University of Connecticut, librarians have gathered signatures on petitions protesting Section 215, the part of the act that allows law enforcement agents to search a person's library records or bookstore purchases in intelligence investigations."

She quotes a bookstore manager about the dangers of Section 215, which gives the government "access to certain business records for foreign intelligence and international terrorism investigations" if they suspect terrorist activity (libraries aren't explicitly singled out in the document).

"Petitions made their way around the campus in January and will do so again in May, said Suzy Staubach, a manager at the university's co-operative bookstore and a board member of the American Booksellers Foundation for Freedom of Expression. 'We had great interest in the petitions,' Ms. Staubach said. 'Here on campus, the First Amendment is important to everyone. Section 215 really impacts bookstores and libraries, as well as readers. The F.B.I. or whomever the government sends can come calling if they suspect terrorist activity, and they can find out what a person is reading or buying. They really don't have to have anything but a rubber stamp from a judge, and we as librarians can't do anything, can't call a lawyer, can't call the president, without risking incarceration ourselves. It's a terrible violation of our First Amendment rights.'"

What Gordon doesn't mention at the end of Staubach's liberal spiel: By all accounts, the Department of Justice hasn't actually used the provision yet.

(At National Review Online, Deroy Murdock explains why it�s a good idea to actually strengthen Section 215 to explicitly include libraries as potential hunting grounds for terrorists.)

Gordon talks to some government supporters of the Patriot Act itself, but she doesn't quote anyone addressing the Section 215 complaints, letting the aggrieved liberal complaints against it stand unchallenged.

She ends where she started, with anxious bookstore owner Fran Keilty: "In Washington Depot, Mrs. Keilty said that she was planning to step up her efforts to repeal Section 215. 'I need to do more,' she said. 'Section 215 infringes upon the privacy of bookstores and library records of our customers and patrons. I just think the impact would be horrible if it were renewed.'"

For more of Gordon on Connecticut protests against the Patriot Act, click here:

The Church's Crisis: A Failure to be "Forward-Looking"

Europe-based reporter Elaine Sciolino again takes the church to task in the news pages for failing to alter doctrine to make itself more appealing in Saturday's "Young Europeans Seek a Papal Dialogue."

Writing from a Catholic university in Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium, she asserts: "The medieval theology class at the Catholic University here has a message for Pope Benedict XVI: Listen to us. The institution is one of the oldest Roman Catholic universities, the place where a 22-year-old student leader, a woman, dared confront Pope John Paul II in 1985 about birth control and liberation theology. John Paul thanked her and kissed her forehead, but did not respond. A generation later, students are still looking for answers, this time from John Paul II's successor."

After quoting two young Catholic critics of the new pope, Sciolino emphasizes the church's backward-looking unpopularity: "These two views underscore the complexity of the challenges facing Pope Benedict XVI. If his first message as pope is any guide, he is determined to convince Catholics of the centrality of faith itself. Yet his worldview is grounded in the ideological struggles of 20th-century Europe and he has yet to show how he intends to reconcile that view with the forward-looking hopes and fears of 21st-century Europeans. As a cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI spoke at length of the perils of secularization and the crisis of the Catholic Church in Europe, where priests are in short supply, churches are empty and Catholics use their consciences more than dicta from Rome in deciding how to live."

She piles on later, citing a three-year-old survey that showed a low percentage of students at the university adhere to traditional Catholicism: "Even many who were surprised that such a conservative was elected said it was only fair to give him a chance to prove himself as a pope who can relate to Europe's needs. Indeed, in the class at Catholic University here, 4 of the 17 students said they approved his selection as pope; 12 said they had reservations but wanted to give him a chance, and only one was wholeheartedly opposed. But this is also the place where a poll three years ago found that 83 percent of the students described the church as paralyzed, in crisis or dying. Only 16 percent said they believed in the resurrection of Christ, 12 percent in the Holy Trinity and 11 percent in the virginity of Mary. Only 3 percent said they believed in the infallibility of the pope."

For the rest of Sciolino on European Catholics, click here:

"Hard-Line" Bolton Rough on Colleagues

On two consecutive days, intelligence reporter Douglas Jehl relayed loaded language regarding the delayed vote on John Bolton's nomination to become ambassador to the UN.

On Sunday Jehl describes Bolton's "hard-line" view of Cuba and takes as fact Democratic accusations that he was "harsh" to intelligence analysts during his tenure as under secretary of state: "Recently declassified e-mail messages provide new details of the bruising battle that John R. Bolton, then an under secretary of state, waged with analysts at the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency in 2002 as he sought to deliver a speech reflecting a hard-line view of Cuba and its possible efforts to acquire biological weapons. The messages, provided to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are surfacing during a firestorm over Mr. Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the United Nations. Democrats and some Republicans have raised concerns about Mr. Bolton's temperament and tactics, and have called particular attention to his harsh treatment of intelligence analysts, suggesting that it may have amounted to political interference."

Jehl repeats himself in his Monday update, "G.O.P. Senator Casts Doubt on U.N. Nominees," referring again without qualifiers to Bolton's "harsh treatment" of colleagues and his "hard line" on Communist Cuba: "As new complaints emerged from several quarters about Mr. Bolton and his harsh treatment of subordinates and colleagues, Senator John Kyl, Republican of Arizona, issued a strong defense of Mr. Bolton, saying on the ABC News program 'This Week' that the nominee had attracted Democratic criticism 'because he's a tough guy who supports the president's policy.'�.Mr. Biden and Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, in a separate television appearance, called renewed attention to Mr. Bolton's repeated efforts in 2002 to seek the transfer of intelligence officials with whom he had clashed over his attempts to make public a hard-line view of Cuba and its possible attempts to acquire biological weapons."

For Jehl on Sunday click here:

For Jehl on Monday click here:

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