The following is not the first story of its type. Every week or so it seems
that one story similar pops up. The outcome might be slightly different but the
essence of the story remains the same.
An e-mail threat that prompted the evacuation of more than a dozen
Brandeis University buildings on January 18 led to an unusual standoff in a
public library in Newton, Mass., a few miles from the Brandeis campus.
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents tried to seize 30 of the library's
computers without a warrant, saying someone had used the library's Internet
connection to send the threat to Brandeis. But the library director, Kathy
Glick-Weil, told the agents they could not take the machines unless they got
a warrant first. Newton's mayor, David Cohen, backed Ms. Glick-Weil up.
After a brief standoff, FBI officials relented and sought a warrant from
a judge. Meanwhile, Ms. Glick-Weil allowed an FBI computer-forensics
examiner to work with information-technology specialists at the library to
narrow down which computers might have been used to send the threatening
message. They determined that three computers were implicated in the alleged
Late that evening, the FBI received a warrant to cart away the three
computers. According to Mayor Cohen, the warrant allows the FBI to view only
the threatening e-mail message and the messages sent immediately before and
after that message.
What this, and other stories like it, makes me wonder is if their isn't some
internal debate within the FBI over the actual legalities of the Patriot Act. If
they believed the law was in fact legal and on their side then they could easily
take the computers and arrest the librarian for interfering with an
investigation. The problem is that they don't do this. They don't even fight for
the new law, but instead they fall back on the original laws we had prior to
Speaking of the Patriot Act, the extension, which passed at the end of last
month, is set to expire this Friday. With the House and Senate back in session,
it is the hot item on the agenda and early reports are indicating that it may
just end up with another temporary extension:
The House and Senate are back in session this week, and on one issue --
the debate over renewing disputed sections of the Patriot Act -- it's as if
they never left town for a long holiday recess.
The five-week renewal of the 16 expiring sections, which passed just as
Congress left Washington in late December, ends Friday, but it seems the
most likely action this week is passage of another short-term extension.
House-Senate negotiations over resolving the Senate's insistence on
greater civil liberty protections in a few sections apparently have not
produced an agreement.
The debate over the renewal of the Patriot Act provisions has become
embroiled in the disclosure of President Bush's approval for the National
Security Agency to eavesdrop without a warrant on phone calls and e-mails in
Instead of wasting time debating extensions, why don't they just go ahead and
pass a six month extension so that time can be better devoted to arguing the
actual act and not just an extension? The answer is simple. This is Republicans
playing politics with the act then they quickly try to say it is the Democrats
playing the politics. If the Republicans were open to a true debate over the
issue then a six month extension would be nothing for them to pass. They just
prove how they feel terrorism is nothing more than a political tool for them.