NEW YORK -- The four librarians at the heart of a legal battle over whether the FBI can simply demand access to patron records had to remain silent and invisible throughout the congressional debate leading to March's renewal of the controversial USA Patriot Act.
So when they spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday, the limelight was a mixed blessing.
Although the 2nd Circuit dismissed the case on procedural grounds, without reaching the merits of the First Amendment claims, Judge Richard J. Cardamone wrote separately to note such claims are significant. He also chided government lawyers for attempting to have the case vacated, which, he wrote, "is not surprising, but right in line with the pervasive climate of secrecy...The government attempts to purge from the public record the fact that it had tried and failed to silence the Connecticut plaintiffs."
It's disturbing how blatantly political the gag order was, but nothing surprises me anymore. In all honesty I don't think having these four appear before Congress would have made any difference. Until we get a Congress with some guts, regardless of their political affiliation, I think we're stuck with the poorly named Patriot Act as is.
Touhy, Lynne. "Librarians Shushed No More." Hartford Courant. 5/31/06