Brad Messer Commentary
Friday, September 19, 2003

Library Snooping Crisis

When Bush 43 took office, he began shutting off the information flow from government to public. One of the first major clam-up moves was telling bureaucrats to resist Freedom of Information requests— a big federal policy reversal.

Secrecy has been a favored tactic. How many terrorist suspects taken away and held without lawyers? Secret. Records and papers of former presidents, sealed from historians— secret. Who took part in the Vice President's Energy Task Force? Secret.

The Bush secrecy has caused backlash. In the case of the Patriot Act power to look at people's library records, librarians with traditional, professional ethics have resisted loudly (without telling each other to shush). Anguished speeches have been made. Talk shows have used the library topic much as a backyard cook uses starter fluid.

Reacting to the criticism and resentment, the Justice Department decided to reveal a secret. It now says the library snooping power has been used zero times. This was released so people wouldn't worry about runaway snooping by the FBI.

The American Library Association director says, if the feds hadn't been so adamantly secretive about the library powers, people wouldn't have had much reason to get worked up about it. She said, "They've been fighting for two years not to tell people what they were doing, and that left a lot of people wondering what they had to hide."

Do you feel the administration will learn a lesson from this, and re-open the information flow? You DO? Say, can you break this Bush 200-dollar bill for me?

Brad Messer commentary, KTSA.

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