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Since 1970 Asian American Curriculum Project, Inc. - Books for All Ages October 2003
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The Patriot Act as It Relates to Bookstores and Libraries
By Leonard Chan

More Information
On the Patriot Act

The Department of Justice

ACLU General Information
ACLU Section 215 Information

List of bills to amend the Patriot Act

H.R. 1157
Text for H.R. 1157
Speech by Bernie Sanders - given to the joint conference of the American Library Assoc. and Canadian Library Assoc.
American Booksellers Association
Free Expression Network
Pacific Northwest Booksellers Assoc.

S. 1158
Library and Bookseller Protection Act

S. 1507
Text for S. 1507
Russ Feingold Press Release
Russ Feingold senate floor speech
The Hill

Otter Amendment to Section 213
Inter Press Service - description of the Otter Amendment
The Washington Dispatch - commentary by Paul M. Weyrich, a conservative with concerns about the Patriot Act
American Booksellers Association
American Booksellers Foundation For Free Expression
ACLU on the Otter Amendment
The Federal Bar Association
Democracy Now - Interview with Bernie Sanders on the passing of the Otter Amendment

S. 1709
ACLU article on S. 1709

ACLU Patriot Act II piecemeal
ACLU Patriot Act II status
Rep. Sanders' civil liberties page
Walter Cronkite Editorial
The law officially titled "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001" also known as the USA Patriot Act 2001 was enacted six weeks after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. This year, Congress has introduced bills to amend the Patriot Act while the Bush administration has been actively campaigning to strengthen it.

The fight to amend the Patriot Act specifically involves issues that should interest all book readers. These new bills are aimed at restoring the privacy of our library and bookstore records to pre-Patriot Act levels.

Feel free to do your own research starting with the links supplied in this newsletter. Here's a brief summary of the issues.

Summary of the Patriot Act
As the title implies, the Patriot Act was created with the intent to give law enforcement, mainly the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and NSA (National Security Agency), more powers to investigate terrorism in the United States. Many of the old laws regarding investigatory powers were "streamlined" to remove barriers that might slow or hinder the search for terrorists. In the fearful days following September 11th, Congress approved the Bush Administration's version of the Patriot Act with no amendments, and very little review and debate. The climate at that time did not permit much dissension since that was "aiding the terrorists." Now that enough time has passed, many people in Congress are reevaluating the wisdom of parts to the Patriot Act.

Section 215
One of the parts of the Patriot Act most often criticized is section 215. In brief, section 215 of the Patriot Act expands the government's ability to look at records on an individual's activity held by third parties such as libraries, bookstores, doctors, universities, and Internet service providers.

Summarized from statements on the ACLU website
The FBI does not have to show a reasonable suspicion that the records are related to criminal activity, much less the requirement for "probable cause" that is listed in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The government only needs to assert that the request is related to an ongoing terrorism or foreign intelligence investigation.
The government must only certify to a judge - with no need for evidence or proof - that such a search meets the statute's broad criteria, and the judge does not even have the authority to reject the application.
Surveillance orders can be based in part on a person's First Amendment activities, such as the books they read, the websites they visit, or a letter to the editor they have written.
A person or organization forced to turn over records is prohibited from disclosing the search to anyone. As a result, the subjects of surveillance never find out that their personal records have been examined by the government and thus have no chance to challenge illegitimate searches.

The danger of section 215 is that, with very little oversight, the government can arbitrarily define who can be investigated. On top of that, government has fewer barriers to conduct "fishing expeditions" among our private records. Innocent readers could be caught in wide investigatory nets for merely reading the wrong materials.

Section 213
Section 213 better known as the "sneak and peek" provision of the Patriot Act, allows delayed notification of the execution of search warrants. It authorizes no-knock searches of private residences, either physically or electronically. Section 213 permits federal agents to obtain warrants under a low evidentiary standard, making them easier to get than before the Patriot Act was passed. Sneak and peek warrants allow agents to search homes, confiscate certain types of property, and bug computers, for an indeterminate amount of time, without notifying the subject of the search that it is happening.

Otter Amendment
The Otter amendment is a rider amendment to the House of Representatives' Commerce, Justice and State appropriations bill. The Otter amendment would bar federal law enforcement from implementing "sneak and peek."

H.R. 1157 - The Freedom to Read Protection Act
Authored by Representative Bernie Sanders (I - VT)
S. 1158 - the senate version of H.R. 1157
This legislation will exempt libraries and bookstores from Section 215 of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, and will require far greater government accountability than at present. It will require that the government provide detailed reports to Congress so that it can keep track of how governmental agencies are using their newly expanded powers.

S. 1507 - Library, Bookseller, and Personal Records Privacy Act
Authored by Russ Feingold
Similar to S. 1158 and H.R. 1157, but also extends the exemption to some personal records.

S. 1709
During the writing of this article a new Senate bill was introduced called the Craig-Durbin "Safety and Freedom Ensured" (SAFE) Act. It appears to combine elements of the Otter amendment and S. 1507 (The Library, Bookseller, and Personal Records Privacy Act). The authors may try to attach S. 1709 to the senate version of the Commerce, Justice and State appropriations bill or some other veto proof bill.

Up Coming Events

Here are some other events that AACP will soon be attending.
Invite us to your events.
Oct. 25
Book Release and Signing of
Birth of an Activist: The Sox Kitashima Story
1840 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA
Nov. 15
Japantown Winter Arts & Crafts Boutique SJ Buddhist Church Gym
640 N. 5th St.
San Jose, CA 95112
Other Event of Interest that AACP May Not Attend
Nov. 1
Learning about Hindu Culture and Values:
A Free Seminar for Elementary/Middle/High School
Teachers and Other Educators
Milpitas Community Library
Josephine Guerrero Community Room
40 N. Milpitas Blvd., Milpitas, CA 95035
Nov. 59 Nat. Assoc. for Multicultural Ed. (NAME) 2003 Conference Sheraton Seattle
Seattle, WA

Give Us Your Feedback

Please feel free to send us your reviews, comments, and book suggestions. You can contact us at -

Editor's Message

Hello Everyone. My apologies for sending this so late in the month. That means you only have about three weeks to take advantage of our book sales rather than a full month.

We've been pretty busy at AACP finishing up the final touches on our 2004 calendar. Plus AACP has just published two new books. We'll tell you more about these developments in our next newsletter. If you can't wait, drop by the store and we'll tell you all about our new products. I also hope to post some announcements on our website. So come and visit.

This month's newsletter article and editorial doesn't have too much direct connection to Asian American issues, but with so much in the news about Attorney General John Ashcroft's campaign to garner support for the Patriot Act, it made me curious about it's true impact on bookstores and libraries.

AACP was founded over 32 years ago as an organization dedicated to issues of Civil Rights and educating the public about the civil wrongs done to Japanese Americans during World War II. When I started doing some research on the recent legislation that tries to amending the Patriot Act, I found this topic to have a connection to our organization's core interests and to all of you book readers and writers. For those of you that just want to read about the latest Asian American books, please bear with my monthly digressions into areas that may not seem related. We believe that they are and we hope that you find some interests in these topics too.

As always, we welcome your suggestions for articles, editorials, and features. Thank you.

Leonard Chan

The Patriot Act: Security vs. Freedom
An editorial by Leonard Chan

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Benjamin Franklin

A recent event made me truly wonder what type of society we now lived in. A friend and I were talking on the phone about the AACP calendar project. In recent weeks, we've been in search of pictures for our calendar. When the subject of how we couldn't find an Asian American Muslim festival picture came up, my friend jokingly suggested that perhaps we could find members of the Taliban willing to provide a picture for us. My sister, who happened to be in the room at that time, overheard me say something on the phone about the Taliban. Soon after the phone call, my sister warned me in a somewhat serious way that, "Hey, be careful about what you say on the phone - Attorney General Ashcroft and the government may be listening."

For a brief period, her words really made me wonder, could I be in trouble for even saying the word Taliban on the phone. What type of world were we living in? Could the government actually be trolling for terrorists by listening in on all of our conversations? What happened to our cherished belief in freedom of speech?

After a moment, I thought it over and realized that I was probably way too worried about nothing. Perhaps though, I was right - we are living in a different world. Frankly, I really never thought the events of September 11 directly affected my everyday life that much, but here was something very different, something that didn't seem right. I was now in as much fear of my own government as of terrorists. Was I starting to sympathize with those crazies living in the woods that routinely call government people, "jackbooted thugs?" What a terrible thought.

The split second of fear I felt - would it serve to stop me from saying or writing wrong words the next time? I just realized that I censored myself in the preceding sentence - I used the words "wrong words" instead of giving examples. I am already slightly ill at ease for using so many "wrong words" in this editorial. Is the government harvesting "wrong worded" emails and web pages?

Part of the goal of the Patriot Act was not only to protect us, but also to calm our fears of terrorism. Statistics show that we have a much lesser chance of dying from terrorism, than by other causes of death (disease, accidents, and non-terrorist related crimes). Our government could probably prevent more deaths by mandating that people wear helmets in cars, than by any of the measures in the Patriot Act. So what happens when the action you take to calm fears is itself causing fear?

Something I learned back in school during the early 70s when domestic terrorism was common - terrorism works best when people become afraid - thus the origins of the word terrorism. That's how the weapons of terrorism become more potent.

Ignore them, give them less attention and the terrorist bombs lose much of their power to make change. The terrorists, in some ways, have maneuvered us into limiting our own personal freedoms. Are we being manipulated into disliking our own government? Who needs large armies when you can make your enemies fight amongst themselves?

The security excuse was used in the past to imprison thousands of innocent Japanese American citizens during World War II. Fear for our security has often resulted in the limiting of our freedoms. In more cases than not, this has been proven to be an overreaction.

Am I suggesting that we do away with measures in the Patriot Act that might actually protect us? No. However, the parts of section 215 of the Patriot Act that do have the potential of limiting our cherished freedoms, especially in the areas of free speech and privacy should be carefully reconsidered. The Patriot Act's powers that allow fishing expeditions among library and bookstore records are not needed, because the government already had the powers to investigate suspected individuals' records prior to the Patriot Act.

Even though Attorney General Ashcroft promises not to abuse these powers, this would require faith in his honesty and, if the Patriot Act is extended, all following government officials entrusted with these powers. As Representative Sanders, author of HR 1157, said, "the way you prevent federal agents from abusing unnecessarily broad powers is to make sure they don't have unnecessarily broad powers."

The Real Solutions
In the days following the September 11 attack, President Bush made speeches about removing the causes of terrorism. Grand words indeed, but what efforts have we made in this direction? Our military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan may have been well intended, but in this process we've sown innumerable seeds of hate. Measures such as the Patriot Act at home have also made us less of a shining example to the people around the world. Does our nationalist rallying cries prevent us from noticing when our own standards are being compromised? The world notices. Are Americans losing sight of the true meaning of human rights?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, created by the United States and the rest of the UN back in 1948, were lofty goals set for a utopian world. This is a wonderful document that all the people of the world should read and strive to achieve. Perhaps then, we will have world peace and an end to terrorism. But until that day how can we expect the world to adopt these human rights guidelines if we keep failing to live up to them ourselves? The real solution lies in our never-ending fight to protect the human rights of all mankind.


The following books are discounted for subscribers to our newsletter. The discounts on these books end November 7, 2003.

The Fifth Book of Peace

By Maxine Hong Kingston
2003, 402 pages, hardback.

The Fifth Book of Peace is Maxine Hong Kingston's real life story during a period when she lost her father and then shortly after lost her home and new manuscript for a book in the Oakland Hills fire of 1991. Her personal story of loss is wrapped around the recreated lost book, which is included in the middle of this volume.

Her recreated book is a lush and compelling story about a Chinese American couple that leave California for Hawaii to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War. The couple creates a sanctuary for deserters and GIs who've returned devastated by their experiences in Vietnam.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3187, Price $26.00

American Woman

By Susan Choi
2003, 369 pages, hardback.

Susan Choi's second book, is a novel of great scope and dramatic complexity, about a young Japanese-American radical caught in the militant underground of the mid-1970s. American Woman is a fictional account that is very loosely based on Wendy Yoshimura, the SLA member that accompanied Patricia Hearst, during a period in which they were on the run from the law.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3186, Price $24.95

Sushi for Kids
A Children's Introduction to Japan's Favorite Food

By Kaoru Ono
Translators Peter Howlett and Richard McNamara
2003, 32 pages, hardback.

A great introduction for kids to one of Japan's favorite foods, sushi. Filled with wonderful illustrations, recipes, and facts, Sushi for Kids is sure to enchant young readers.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3176, Price $10.95

Favorite Children's Stories from China and Tibet

By Lotta Carswell Hume
Illustrated by Lo Koon-chiu
2002, 119 pages, hardback.

Favorite Children's Stories from China and Tibet is a wonderful reprinting of the book first published in 1962. Some of the stories contained within this book include:

  • Soo Tan the Tiger and the Little Green Frog
  • A Chinese Cinderella
  • The Fox, the Hare, and the Toad have an Argument
  • How the Cock Got his Red Crown
  • The Cricket Fight
  • The Story of the Tortoise and the Monkey
  • The Wishing Cup
  • A Hungry Wolf
  • The Tower that Reached from Earth to Heaven
  • The Fox Outwits the Tiger

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3178, Price $16.95

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