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The Patriot Act permits federal agents to secretly obtain information from booksellers and librarians about customers’ and patrons’ reading, internet and book-buying habits, merely by alleging that the records are relevant to an anti-terrorism investigation. The act prohibits librarians and booksellers from revealing these requests, so they cannot be challenged in court (see October 2, 2001). (Bertin 9/16/2002) A University of Illinois study now concludes that federal agents have sought records from about 220 libraries nationwide since September 2001. (de Vise 9/1/2002) The Justice Department refuses to say how many times it has invoked this Patriot Act provision (see June 13, 2002). (Donegan 3/16/2003) But Assistant Attorney General Daniel Bryant says that people who borrow or buy books surrender their right of privacy. (Egelko and Gaura 3/10/2003) Some libraries and bookstores unhappy with the law begin to fight back in a number of ways. Some libraries have posted signs warning that the government may be monitoring their users’ reading habits. (Tanner 3/11/2003) Thousands of libraries are destroying records so agents have nothing to seize. (Murphy 4/7/2003) Many librarians polled say they would break the law and deny orders to disclose reading records. (Egelko and Gaura 3/10/2003)
Justice Department lawyer Patrick Philbin sends a classified memo to Daniel Bryant, a lawyer with the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, concerning the “Swift Justice Authorization Act.” The memo states that Congress has no power to interfere with President Bush’s authority to act as commander in chief to control US actions during wartime, including Bush’s authority to promulgate military commissions to try and sentence suspected terrorists and other detainees taken by the US as part of its “war on terror.” Philbin’s colleague, OLC lawyer John Yoo, will cite this memo in his 2003 memo concerning the military interrogation of so-called enemy combatants (see March 14, 2003). (US Department of Justice 4/8/2002 ; American Civil Liberties Union [PDF] 1/28/2009 ) The memo will be made public in early 2009 (see March 2, 2009).
John Yoo, a lawyer with the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), sends a classified memo to Daniel J. Bryant, another OLC lawyer. Yoo concludes that the Constitution “vests full control of the military operations of the United States to the president,” and denies Congress any role in overseeing or influencing such operations. The memo is consisent with an earlier Justice Department memo (see April 8, 2002). Yoo will cite this memo in his 2003 memo concerning the military interrogation of so-called enemy combatants (see March 14, 2003). (US Department of Justice` 6/27/2002 ; American Civil Liberties Union [PDF] 1/28/2009 ) The memo ignores the Non-Detention Act, which states, “No citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an act of Congress.” (Nguyen and Weaver 4/16/2009) It will be made public in early 2009 (see March 2, 2009).
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