Monday, August 02, 2004

A Right You Don't Know About Is a Right You Don't Have 

Suburban Guerrilla linked to the following item from the heroic leaders of the American Library Association:
Last week, the American Library Association learned that the Department of Justice asked the Government Printing Office Superintendent of Documents to instruct depository libraries to destroy five publications the Department has deemed not "appropriate for external use." The Department of Justice has called for these five public documents, two of which are texts of federal statutes, to be removed from depository libraries and destroyed, making their content available only to those with access to a law office or law library.

The topics addressed in the named documents include information on how citizens can retrieve items that may have been confiscated by the government during an investigation. The documents to be removed and destroyed include: Civil and Criminal Forfeiture Procedure; Select Criminal Forfeiture Forms; Select Federal Asset Forfeiture Statutes; Asset forfeiture and money laundering resource directory; and Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA).

ALA has submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the withdrawn materials in order to obtain an official response from the Department of Justice regarding this unusual action, and why the Department has requested that documents that have been available to the public for as long as four years be removed from depository library collections. ALA is committed to ensuring that public documents remain available to the public and will do its best to bring about a satisfactory resolution of this matter.
(Just FYI: the Guerrilla is in dire need of moolah to fix her car. Since Suburban Guerrilla is the blog that King of Zembla aspires to be, His Imperial Badness the King would take it as a personal favor if you would pop over thataway and slip our esteemed colleague Susan five bucks via PayPal or Amazon.)

UPDATE: We are pleased -- okay, a little embarrassed, but mainly pleased -- to report that, thanks to the ALA's swift action, the DoJ two days ago withdrew its request:
The about-face came July 30, shortly after the American Library Association’s Washington Office filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents, an action that Office of Government Relations Deputy Director Patrice McDermott explained would force the DOJ to either provide the documents or reveal the reason for the order by specifying one of nine FOIA exemptions to withhold them. “There’s no excuse for them to ask libraries to destroy these materials, and no reason in the world to ask libraries to destroy statutes,” McDermott told American Libraries.

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