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
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
"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.