Independent Vermont Representative Bernie Sanders pushed a measure through the house that defies fundamentalist Republican big-brother surveillance tactics (yup, the "Patriot" Act) by making it harder for the feds to monitor the books you get from the library or bookstore. Said Mr. Sanders, via Reuters:
"We can fight terrorism without undermining basic constitutional rights. That's what the message of today is about,"
This seems like a simple correction - who would support throughcrime bookstore-monitoring. Well, Assistant Attorney General William Moschella, that's who. In a letter to Congress, he said bookstores:
"should not be carved out as safe havens for terrorists and spies, who have, in fact, used public libraries to do research and communicate with their co-conspirators."
Call me a commie terrorist-lover, but that seems like a weak argument - how much of a safe haven can Buns and Noodles (TM Alison Bechdel) possibly be?. Is commonly accessible information really dangerous? Researching and/or communicating are not crimes - killing people, spying and funding terrorists - those are crimes. I assume that the communications he's talking about are via library computers - well, any terrorist who can't afford a cell phone or a computer of their own, can't be well positioned to threaten the country, can they? I'm not encouraging their use of public facilities, but the cost to the privacy of the greater population does not justify the surveillance. Monitoring books is just Orwellian, and any defense of the practice is just hopelessly reactionary.