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by Tom Brune
Saturday, Sep. 20, 2003 at 4:35 PM
Attorney General John Ashcroft yesterday stepped up his attack on his critics, calling them "hysterics."
Washington - A day after revealing that the FBI has never used the controversial Patriot Act to review library records, Attorney General John Ashcroft yesterday stepped up his attack on his critics, calling them "hysterics."
Taking aim at the American Library Association, which had warned its patrons the FBI might be reviewing their reading lists, Ashcroft lampooned librarians in a speech to law enforcement officials in Memphis.
Ashcroft accused his critics of conjuring images of FBI agents in raincoats, dark suits and sunglasses "like in the X-Files" grilling in a "dull Joe Friday monotone" library users about their reading habits.
But the FBI has not sought any records at all under the often criticized Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which lowered standards and expanded the targets of national-security warrants in terrorism probes, said a secret report released late Wednesday.
"And so the charges of the hysterics are revealed for what they are: castles in the air," Ashcroft said. "Built on misrepresentation. Supported by unfounded fear. Held aloft by hysteria."
American Library Association president Carla Hayden yesterday responded, "That's a very unfortunate choice of words, and it does not accurately portray the concerns of librarians."
Librarians had only described what the FBI could actually do under the act, she said, and Ashcroft could have prevented fears and speculation by releasing the report sooner, as her group had urged.
A Justice official in May said an informal survey of FBI field offices found that agents had contacted libraries about 50 times. But he said they usually did it for a criminal investigation and showed up with a grand jury subpoena or at the library's invitation.
COMMENT: Ashcroft is a habitual lier especially now that the so called patriot act is being abused for prosecuting alleged crimes that have nothing in common with terrorism.
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