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Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


SCIENCE, STATE, JUSTICE, COMMERCE, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - June 15, 2005)

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. Sanders) for the time.

Mr. Chairman, Pericles, a 5th century B.C. Athenian statesman, once said that ``freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.'' I rise today in support of this amendment and to speak on behalf of freedom.

Librarians, booksellers, and everyday Americans across the country are deeply concerned about the chilling effect of section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which clearly encourages individuals to self-censor their reading sources.

USA Today in June of 2004 reported that an FBI agent actually went to a Washington State library branch and requested a list of people who had borrowed a biography of Osama bin Laden. The librarian refused and informed the agent that he would have to go through legal channels before the names could be released. The FBI then served a subpoena to the library a week later demanding a list of everyone who had borrowed the book since November of 2001.

With government having the ability to easily obtain records of books that everyday Americans, our constituents, are borrowing, all of us forfeit the freedom to learn more.

Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act clearly gives the Federal Government an unwarranted amount of power. There must be a higher standard of suspicion to justify this invasion of privacy.

This amendment only applies to the records that contain information about the books and reading materials that are checked out of the library or purchased from a bookstore.

It is important to note that prior to September 11, law enforcement was able to arrest Ted Kaczynski, the Unibomber, via his library records. The authority already existed in law without the secrecy and overreach of section 215.

The adage ``keep your friends close and your enemies closer'' can be upheld via the freedom to obtain knowledge about those who wish to do us harm.

I urge my colleagues' support.

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