Leah's Law Library Weblog


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Leah's Law Library Weblog

  Monday, October 28, 2002

Via How Appealing:

Patriot Act: Will it defeat terror, diminish freedom, or both?. Patriot Act: Will it defeat terror, diminish freedom, or both? See the cover story of tomorrow's Washington Post Magazine.

Great story written by Robert O'Harrow Jr., with assistance from the Center for Investigative Reporting. It covers how the Act was passed from the points of view of an Assistant AG, folks from the Center for Democracy and Technology, and Senator Leahy, as well as others. Recommended reading.

3:34:23 PM comment []   

Via TVC Alert:

HEALTH DATA REMOVED FROM GOV'T WEB SITES. Representative Henry A. Waxman and several of his colleagues demand that the Department of Health and Human Services respond to allegations that it has removed health information from its Web sites for political reasons.  The Memory Hole located some of the data at the Internet Archive and now makes it available via its Web site.

SEE:  Bush Administration Removes Health Info from Federal Websites [The Memory Hole page with links to copies of the missing web sites.]

The removed information included information on the effectiveness of condoms and abortion and breast cancer studies. I'm glad someone is keeping watch over this type of removal of information. The missing information wasn't related to security, but possibly was related to politics. So who gets to say how long and what type of information should remain on government websites? It seems reasonable that some stuff be removed over time and that certainly policy related information can be removed with a change in policy. But what about "facts?" Shouldn't there at least be an appropriate notice when this happens and an archive of information kept? What's NARA's role in this? I have more questions than answers. 

3:17:28 PM comment []   

  Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Enemy combatants:  I haven't posted anything lately about enemy combatants, but I saw this today and thought it was worth a post.

U.S. Department of Defense responds to American Bar Association's report on the detention of enemy combatants. The United States Department of Defense has, through its general counsel, issued a letter responding to the American Bar Association's report that criticized the federal government's policies on the detention of enemy combatants. [via How Appealing]

The letter is dated exactly a month ago, Sept. 23, but I hadn't heard about it.  DoD issued a news release with most of the text of the letter on Oct. 2. The ABA has added links to the letter and the news release to its page on the report, perhaps in an attempt to respond to General Counsel William J. Haynes II's request that the response be publicized in the same manner as the preliminary report. I don't think adding links to the press release page is quite what Mr Haynes had in mind, but it is better than nothing. I can't really address the substance of the response, other than to note that it relies on repeated assertions of the President's power in this area to do pretty much what he wants.

7:46:16 PM comment []   

  Friday, October 18, 2002

DOJ responds to House questions on PATRIOT Act.

The House Judiciary Committee has released the US Justice Department's answers to 28 of 50 questions [PDF] it posed in June 2002 regarding the implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act. Answers to some questions were classified. The ACLU has objected to the limited response and is pursuing full disclosure of relevant information under the Freedom of Information Act. [via JURIST]

I've printed this off and have started to read it. Interesting that in the little bit I've read how much of the requested information is either classified or gets a "we're not keeping statistics on this" response.  As a former government employee, I found this a little odd, given that we seemed to keep statistics on everything.  Maybe it's just getting used to the Act, maybe not. Anyway, good report to review if you're interested in what's happening with this Act.

10:40:12 AM comment []   

  Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Latest on OMB/GPO Conflict. Well, the latest continuing resolution, H.J. Res. 122, was signed by the President on Oct. 11 to keep the federal government going until Oct. 18.  While apparently there are some differences between this resolution and the one I mentioned here, the language in section 4 appears to be the same, i.e., it forbids the government from using appropriated funds to carry out the OMB memo and from printing the budget through any agency but the GPO. Government Executive Magazine has an interesting story about this, which quotes an OMB spokesperson as saying they expect the Justice Department to declare this unconstitutional.  I'm not sure when the Justice Department got that authority. The article also mentions that OMB failed to get planned revisions to the Federal Acquistions Regulation (FAR) released this fall to make the changes in the Memo official.  I understand, however, that they working madly on this and want to put draft regs out no later than a month from now.

And finally, thanks to LISNews.com, I found this interesting article by Miriam A. Drake, entitled Cost Cutting or Access Control: OMB Dismantling GPO?.  She goes into some of the history of previous attempts to break GPO control over federal printing.

7:25:42 PM comment []   

  Tuesday, October 15, 2002

As a follow-up to my earlier post on the USA PATRIOT Act teleconference, Dec. 11, 2002, I wanted to link to the site where you can find out which libraries are participating and allowing guests to attend. Once you get there, click on "View List of Sites Accepting Guests." As of today, 57 libraries are participating.

3:09:13 PM comment []   

The USA PATRIOT Act has been on my mind recently for a number of reasons.  First, while at AALL in July, I wrote an article about the Hot Topic presentations on the Act.  This article, Hot Topic Sparks Better Understanding of USA PATRIOT Act, has been published in AALL Spectrum, Vol. 7, Sept. 2002, at 16 and is finally available on the web. It's on page 12 in the online PDF version.

Second, I recently gave a presentation on the USA PATRIOT Act for a class of library science students. The PowerPoint version is here and an html version is here. I want to give credit to the ALA's Washington Office for their presentation, Libraries and the USA PATRIOT Act:  Access, Openness, and Confidentiality, which I used as the basis for mine. I modified this to provide some basic legal information for the library students and to go into more detail on FISA, pen registers/trap & trace, etc. I also prepared a resource list, USA PATRIOT Act & Related Issues. Out of the 30 students, at the beginning only one acknowledged that she'd heard of the Act before. Between my presentation and the instructor, we had them fairly riled up by the end of the 2.5 hour class.  They seemed to realize that librarians need to become advocates for the issues they believe in. I felt like I'd actually accomplished something.

Finally, on a somewhat related note, Bibliolatry pointed to this article today on the impact the removal of government information from the web is having on researchers. Several of the slides from the ALA (and my) presentation deal with how to determine what should be removed and who should determine it. No one has a handle on this issue, really, and it's hard to say who should. I'm just glad there are folks like OMB Watch and others who are keeping track of what's been removed.

2:28:30 PM comment []   

  Thursday, October 10, 2002

I know it's been a long time since I've posted, but I've been really busy at work and at home.  So here's the latest news on the GPO/OMB conflict:

The interesting thing in the latest resolution is Section 4, which states:

SEC. 4. Section 117 of Public Law 107-229 is amended to read as follows:

 ‘SEC. 117. (a) The Congress finds that section 501 of title 44, United States Code, and section 207(a) of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 1993 (44 U.S.C. 501 note) require that (except as otherwise provided in such sections) all printing, binding, and blankbook work for Congress, the Executive Office, the Judiciary, other than the Supreme Court of the United States, and every executive department, independent office, and establishment of the Government, shall be done at the Government Printing Office.
'(b) No funds appropriated under this joint resolution or any other Act may be used--
'(1) to implement or comply with the Office of Management and Budget Memorandum M-02-07, `Procurement of Printing and Duplicating through the Government Printing Office', issued May 3, 2002, or any other memorandum or similar opinion reaching the same, or substantially the same, result as such memorandum; or
'(2) to pay for the printing (other than by the Government Printing Office) of the budget of the United States Government submitted by the President of the United States under section 1105 of title 31, United States Code.’.

This appears to be throwing the football right back to the White House.  Stay tuned for further developments.

6:50:36 PM comment []   

  Tuesday, October 01, 2002

More on GPO/OMB Conflict: The President issued a statement yesterday, Sept. 30, when he signed the continuing resolution I mentioned here and here.  The statement indicates that the Executive Branch is relying on a 1996 Memorandum from the DOJ that opined that the relevant statute, 44 U.S.C. 501, "violates the constitutional principles of separation of powers and therefore is not binding on the executive branch."

This is very interesting, because in all the discussions librarian groups have had with OMB about the May 2002 memo, they have always denied to us that separation of powers is at issue here. The continuing resolution runs out at the end of this week, so there will be a chance for Congress to respond to the President soon.

7:58:33 AM comment []   

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Last update: 10/28/2002; 3:34:29 PM.