Policy and News Updates for November 10, 2005

Italics indicates new or updated news

Email your tips and updates to info@openthegovernment.org

Policy Updates for November 20, 2005

[new] New Intelligence Center Created for Unclassified Information
The CIA created an Open Source Center to gather and analyze information from the Web, broadcasts, newspapers, and other unclassified sources around the world.
Sources: Intelligence Center Is Created for Unclassified Information[New York Times November 9]

[updated] Library group still gagged as PATRIOT Act debate continues
Two of the three judges on the panel of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals indicated they were troubled by the gags placed on recipients of National Security Letters (NSLs). They have not yet ruled on either the Connecticut library case or the New York case which deal with gag orders and the constitutionality of NSLs. After a Washington Post story about the FBI’s use of NSLs (30,000 a year according to The Post), several Senators spoke out against this overbroad power.
Status: The Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on Wednesday, November 2.
Sources: ACLU (CT and NY cases); Judges troubled by Patriot Act secrecy [CNN November 3]; The FBI’s Secret Scrutiny [Washington Post November 6]; Lawmakers Call for Limits on F.B.I. Power to Demand Records in Terrorism Investigations [New York Times November 7]; Groups address NSLs in letter to Sen. Specter(pdf)
Action: Sign the ACLU petition to urge Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to lift the gag order preventing librarians from participating in the PATRIOT Act debate.


[updated] PATRIOT Act: Members of House and Senate Scheduled to Examine Patriot Act
The House and Senate members will meet November 10 to resolve difference in PATRIOT Act legislation. The House passed a bill, H.R. 3199, on July 21 to indefinitely extend the PATRIOT Act. The bill renews 14 of the 16 provisions set to expire at the end of this year. The bill did not include the Sanders Amendment, which would have put library and bookstore records out of the Act’s reach. The other two provisions, sections 206 and 215, were extended for 10 years. The Senate bill, S. 1389, extends the wiretap and library provisions for four-years.
Status: The House-Senate Conference Committee is scheduled to meet November 10.
Sources: H.R. 3199; S. 1389; Bill of Rights Defense Committee summary; Text of Senate vote;
Alert: Protect libraries and booksellers from Sec. 215 of the PATRIOT Act.



News from Coalition Partners and Others

Secrecy on Foreign Scholar Bans are Challenged
The PEN American Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the American Association of University Professors sued 4 federal agencies for documents that reveal whether the United States is denying visas to scholars based on their ideological beliefs.