Wednesday, April 06, 2005

2 suggestions for Eric Lichtblau: 1)play the skeptic and 2) utilize other newspapers, not just the Times

Dozens of e-mails came in wanting Eric Lichtblau's "Antiterrorism Law Defended as Hearings Start" highlighted. So we're giving this New York Times story it's own entry.

Mr. Gonzales's forceful defense of the expanded antiterrorism powers granted under the USA Patriot Act came at the start of what is expected to be months of hearings in both the Senate and the House. Sixteen provisions in the law are to expire by year's end, and a decision over whether to extend them, and whether the government's expanded powers have eroded civil liberties, is shaping up as one of the biggest legislative battles in the current Congress.

You'll note that "Brand New Me" Alberto Gonzales parrots J-Ass (John Ashcroft) in claiming that the library provision is of "no interest" to the Justice Dept. And you'll note that because Lichtblau works that into his article. Haven't we been down this road before?

Question, is Lichtblau aware of a Washington Post article entitled " Patriot Act Provision Invoked, Memo Says FBI Request Came Weeks After Ashcroft Denied Using Controversial Part of Law?"

From that June 18, 2004 article by Amy Goldstein:

The FBI asked the Justice Department last fall to seek permission from a secret federal court to use the most controversial provision of the USA Patriot Act, four weeks after Attorney General John D. Ashcroft said that part of the law had never been used, according to government documents disclosed this week.
A one-paragraph memo -- saying the FBI wanted to use the part of the law that allows investigators in terrorism and espionage cases easier access to people's business and library records -- was in a stack of documents the government has released under court order, as debate persists over whether use of the anti-terrorism law violates civil liberties.

Read Goldstein's article. You'll find out that J-Ass selectively declassified a memo to make it look as though the library provision had never been used. Then when the court ordered the release of documents, we find out that the declassified memo J-Ass's remarks were neither illumating nor forthcoming.

Curiously, Dan Eggen's article in today's Washington Post also overlooks Goldstein's previous reporting. From "Congress Urged to Renew Patriot Act: Minor Changes Would Address Concerns, Gonzales and Mueller Tell Senate Panel:"

Authorities have obtained information under the controversial business records provision 35 times, including driver's license records, credit card records, Internet subscriber records and hotel and apartment records, officials said. Gonzales said the provision has not been used to obtain records from medical providers, gun shops, bookstores or libraries, although he said the administration would oppose any attempt to exempt such categories.
"The department has no interest in rummaging through the library records or the medical records of Americans," Gonzales testified. "We do have an interest, however, in records that may help us capture terrorists. And there may be an occasion where having the tools . . . to access this kind of information may be very helpful."

No interest? What of Goldstein's reporting? Apparently that's down the memory hole. (Thanks to community member professional journalist for the e-mail heads up alerting me to Goldstein's article which I'd never read before p.j. steered me to it.)

The Times is a competitor of the Washington Post's. Why Eggen, writing for the Post, is unaware of Goldstein's reporting is another issue.

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