Freedom to Read Protection Act passes House Vote
Thursday, April 1, 2004
By Marian Paroo

WASHINGTON  By a vote of 219 to196 with most Republicans opposed, the House of Representatives gave its approval to a bill that would limit law enforcement tools to combat terrorism.

The so-called Freedom to Read Protection Act (HR-1157) was authored by Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders. It was pushed past the House with the help of 144 cosponsors, mostly liberals.

Incessant lobbying from left-leaning organizations, such as the American Booksellers Association and the porn-pushing American Library Association, yielded the remaining votes.

The legislation would exempt libraries and booksellers from provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that allow the federal government to access library or bookstore records without having to get an old-fashioned search warrant.

The USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act was passed in late 2001 by an overwhelming majority. Many Democrats, including millionaire Senator John F. Kerry, voted for the Act at that time.

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where a similar bill (Library, Bookseller, and Personal Records Privacy Act, S-1507) has been proposed by other activist legislators. That bill's sponsors include several career Democrats and Republication-turncoat Senator Jim Jeffords.

Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has promised to filibuster both bills unless riders are attached which pardon the act of adopting animals from pet shelters and then killing them in exploratory medical experiments.

Attorney General John Ashcroft, who has long championed the use of the law to combat terrorism, held an impromptu press conference in opposition to the proposed limitations.

"Yet again we see the baseless hysteria of librarians and their kind in action. This law would weaken our great country's defenses. If I wasn't recovering from surgery I'd go on another national tour promoting police powers."

Added Ashcroft, "We've got more important things to do at the Justice Department than preserve civil liberties anyway. President Bush will soon announce a special prosecutor to investigate the Super Bowl Halftime Show. I also have high hopes that Howard Stern will be put behind bars for opposing Bush, er, I mean saying filth on the air. In the meantime, I'm taking my staff out to see not just Mel Gibson's latest masterpiece, but his complete movies, even Lethal Weapon IV."

The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera, and the Muppet News Flash team contributed to this report.

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