Cover image for Refuge of a scoundrel : the Patriot Act in libraries
Refuge of a scoundrel : the Patriot Act in libraries
Foerstel, Herbert N.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Libraries Unlimited, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiv, 218 pages : forms ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
KF4315 .F64 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
KF4315 .F64 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The USA Patriot Act may be the most complex and controversial federal statute in American history, argued to undercut American civil liberties in countless ways, including a dramatic extension of domestic surveillance. Providing a broad picture of how the new surveillance powers affect all Americans--citizens and non-citizens alike--the lessons of this book will be relevant to any businesses that maintain personnel records and electronic data that were considered confidential before the Patriot Act, as well as a broad range of individuals, including librarians, bookstore owners, students, scholars, journalists, businessmen, and anyone concerned with American civil liberties.

Informative appendices include the historic University of Illinois survey of public library surveillance since September 11, 2001, and copies of some of the standard court orders that may be served to libraries and bookstores.

Author Notes

HERBERT N. FOERSTEL is former Head of Branch Libraries, University of Maryland, College Park, and currently serves on the advisory boards of the Freedom to Read Foundation and the National Security Archive. He has authored nine books on First Amendment topics and numerous articles and reviews, the most recent of which was the review of the four-volume set, Censorship: A World Encyclopedia for the Journal of Information Ethnics . Among his previous publications: Freedom of Information and the Right to Know: The Origins and Applications of the Freedom of Information Act (1999), From Watergate to Monicagate: Ten Controversies in Modern Journalism and Media (2001), and Banned in the Media: A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries , revised and expanded edition (2002).

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

When Attorney General John Ashcroft accused some librarians of baseless hysteria in their opposition to the USA Patriot Act, the controversy surrounding this legislation--enacted by Congress following the 9/11 attacks--expanded further. Foerstel, a librarian and author of several works on the First Amendment, has written a passionate attack on the law and describes its negative impact on library users, librarians, and libraries throughout the country. A diligent researcher, he combed the print literature and the Web and even conducted personal interviews with some government officials and librarians to buttress his case against this legislation. Needless to say, a book entitled Refuge of a Scoundrel does not purport to offer a balanced perspective, and one can't fault an author for not writing the book some readers may want. The worst terrorist attack in American history has placed in stark relief the debate about maintaining national security while preserving our civil rights and liberties. Foerstel has done an admirable job in advocating the latter. In the future, one hopes that a similarly capable author can explain the justification for these stringent legislative measures affecting libraries. --Donald Altschiller Copyright 2004 Booklist

Library Journal Review

This is the most important book this reviewer has read this year-and the most frightening. It succinctly details the latest effort by the U.S. government to undermine the rights of Americans to free expression and privacy, with a particular focus on libraries and librarians. An activist in resisting the FBI's snoopers when he was head of branch libraries at the University of Maryland, Foerstel is widely published on First Amendment issues and serves on boards of both the National Security Archive and the Freedom To Read Foundation. He opens with a long first chapter on the history of modern government surveillance of libraries, basically a summary of his Surveillance in the Stacks: The FBI's Library Awareness Program. Forestel then recounts the history of the USA PATRIOT Act and discusses the implications for libraries and bookstores. In Chapter 5, "Fighting Back," he summarizes current efforts to resist or change the Patriot Act's provisions and concludes with an indictment of Attorney General Ashcroft's claim that the FBI did not use the Patriot Act to gain access to library records. Foerstel's impressive documentation (appendixes include the University of Illinois GSLIS's survey of public library surveillance, plus samples of standard court orders that may be served to libraries and bookstores) proves that despite the book's brevity, it covers the subject fully and deeply. Highly recommended.-John Berry, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. vii
Chapter 1 A Recent History of Library Surveillancep. 1
Backgroundp. 1
The Library Awareness Programp. 3
Orgins in the New York Officep. 5
The FBI Meets Congressp. 6
The Controversy Escalatesp. 9
It Only Hurts When We Laughp. 11
A Selective Survey of Library Visitsp. 12
Winding Down a Troubled Programp. 22
The Role of Librarians in FBI Surveillancep. 24
The Special Libraries Associationp. 30
Librarians as Potential KGB Agentsp. 32
Paint the Critics Redp. 34
The Law and Library Surveillancep. 35
Notesp. 38
Chapter 2 The USA Patriot Actp. 45
Passage of the Billp. 45
General Provisionsp. 55
Provisions Directly Affecting Librariesp. 60
National Security Letters and Emergency Foreign Intelligence Warrantsp. 64
Sunsetted Provisionsp. 67
Blurring the Distinction between Criminal Justice and Counterintelligencep. 69
Notesp. 72
Chapter 3 The Patriot Act in Libraries and Bookstoresp. 75
Fearing the Worstp. 75
What Are You Going to Do When They Come for You?p. 80
Destroying Patron Records Before They Can Be Seizedp. 84
FBI Advice and Reassurancep. 86
Documenting Those Elusive Federal Visits to Librariesp. 89
Gag Ordersp. 96
Notesp. 99
Chapter 4 Making Things Worse: Government Actions Beyond the Patriot Actp. 103
Executive Orders, Regulations, and Administrative Guidelinesp. 103
Homeland Security Actp. 109
Total Information Awarenessp. 112
TIPS Programp. 116
CAPPS IIp. 118
Patriot Act II and the Victory Actp. 120
Ashcroft's National Tourp. 126
State Anti-Terrorism Legislation in the Wake of 9/11p. 128
Notesp. 133
Chapter 5 Fighting Back: Responses to the Patriot Actp. 137
Congressional Oversight of the Patriot Actp. 137
Public Oversight of the Patriot Actp. 151
The Patriot Act in Art and Humorp. 157
Legislative Attempts to Modify the Patriot Actp. 160
State, Local, and Professional Resolutions Opposing the Patriot Actp. 169
Notesp. 172
Conclusionp. 177
Ashcroft on the Offensivep. 177
The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth?p. 178
Notesp. 182
Appendix A Public Libraries and Civil Liberties--Questionnairep. 183
Appendix B California Library Association Patriot Act Surveyp. 191
Appendix C U.S. Attorney Preservation Demand Letterp. 199
Appendix D U.S. District Court ECPA Order w/Schedulep. 203
Appendix E U.S. District Court Subpoena in a Criminal Casep. 205
Appendix F U.S. District Court Search Warrantp. 207
Selected Bibliographyp. 209
Indexp. 211