During his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing last week, Barack Obama’s Attorney General nominee, Eric Holder, pledged his support for renewing Section 215 of the Patriot Act. This unconstitutional provision allows the FBI to search personal records from businesses, bookstores, and libraries. Prior to this legislative assault on the Fourth Amendment, individuals had an expectation of privacy from prying government eyes regarding their reading selections.
The target of the search does not have to be suspected of terrorism or any other crime. A permanent gag order that accompanies each search prohibits the business or library from telling anyone about it.
Organizations of librarians and booksellers have denounced the law as an assault on reader privacy. Some libraries have posted signs warning patrons that their records are subject to government inspection, and many librarians now destroy files on borrowers who have returned their books. (source)
Many on the left, and civil libertarians, have denounced the colossal privacy invasion measures ushered in with the Patriot Act under the Bush Administration’s watch. Obama’s Attorney General nominee seems eager to continue this distressing pattern of privacy erosion in the name of fightin’ terror.
AG nominee Holder’s position on Section 215, coupled with Obama’s vote in support of the expanding the sweeping FISA legislation (the government surveillance bill that offers retroactive immunity to telecommunications for providing personal records to the government) signals the incoming administration’s disdain for individual privacy.