FBI to monitor libraries

Mark Wright markfwright at hotmail.com
Mon Jun 3 16:19:50 EDT 2002

There are those of us who worry that giving the federal government broader 
powers of investigation will lead to abuses of those new powers. Others of 
us worry that NOT giving the feds these powers may lead to another 9/11, or 
worse. I think that both are perfectly valid worries, and that both 
scenarios are entirely plausible and perhaps even likely. Given that, I ask 
myself which worries me more, the government abusing its powers or 
terrorists doing something like nuking Washington, DC? Then throw in the 
fact that there are many, many government watchdogs groups out there 
(including many of us librarians) who will be very closely watching how the 
government uses these new powers. To me the answer is simple. Let the 
government do whatever they can to try and pre-empt terrorist strikes, yet 
keep a close eye on them to make sure that they don't abuse their powers.

I'm sorry, but I don't think keeping a patron's right to privacy in the 
library is more important that protecting the lives of everyone in the 
library, or even in the entire city. Last week someone wrote to this list 
suggesting that if a patron asks for a map and directions to the local water 
supply any good librarian should just provide the information, no questions 
asked. Would you do so if the patrons were three Middle Eastern guys? Or 
would you just keep quiet about it and start drinking bottled water from now 

Mark F. Wright
Andover, Mass.

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