FIVE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PATRIOT ACT AND READER PRIVACY

Fundamental questions about the use of PATRIOT Act surveillance powers in bookstores and libraries remain unanswered. These include:

  1. Why does the government need the power to search records of people who are not suspected of being terrorists or agents of a foreign government?
  2. Why is it necessary that Section 215 orders be issued by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and not by courts or grand juries where booksellers and librarians retain the ability to challenge overly broad orders?
  3. Why is it necessary to impose a gag order that prevents law-abiding citizens from learning that their records have come under scrutiny?
  4. With the growing use of PATRIOT Act—authorized National Security Letters that allow federal investigators to seek records without securing FISA court orders, what guarantees exist that searches receive any independent review?
  5. Why can't the number of bookstore and library searches be made public?