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WAR ON TERRORISM -
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Sanders Introduces "Freedom To Read Protection Act"

Posted in the database on Friday, March 11th, 2005 @ 14:38:31 MST (1371 views)
from Bernie Sanders  

Untitled Document Washington, DC- Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT), members of the American Library Association and Representatives from the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression announced at a press conference today the introduction of Sanders’ “Freedom to Read Protection Act.” The legislation would exempt libraries and booksellers from provisions of the USA Patriot Act that allow the federal government to access library or bookstore records without having to get a traditional search warrant. Sanders and other congressional sponsors of the bill believe that the legislation is needed to protect Americans’ constitutionally guaranteed right to read and access information without governmental intrusion or monitoring.

Sanders said, “All of us are concerned about terrorism and all of us are determined to do all that we can to protect the American people from another terrorist attack. But, the threat of terrorism must not be used as an excuse by the government to intrude on our basic constitutional rights. We can fight terrorism, but we can do it at the same time as we protect the civil liberties that have made our country great.”

Specifically, Sanders’ legislation would exempt libraries and bookstores from Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the person whose records are being searched by the FBI can be anyone. The FBI doesn’t even have to say that it believes the person they are investigating is involved in criminal activity or that the person is connected to a foreign power.

Even more frightening, the FBI can investigate American citizens based in part on an American’s exercise of his or her First Amendment Rights, such as writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper or reading books the government may not approve of.

The Freedom to Read Protection Act is being introduced by 24 members of Congress including Republican Ron Paul of Texas, and Congressman John Conyers, the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. Sixty-two cities and towns from across America have passed resolutions on this issue.

Sanders concluded, “Under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the person whose records are being searched by the FBI can be anyone. The FBI doesn’t even have to say that it believes the person is involved in criminal activity or that the person is connected to a foreign power. This is not acceptable. The legislation we are introducing today will go a long away in protecting the basic freedoms of every American.”