Hopefully, all of you caught C-SPAN yesterday. The debate on the Republican side got bizarre at points. When discussing the federal government's demand for library records under the Patriot Act, one of the Republican reps started shouting at the Amnesty International representative--name some names? What librarians have been forced to turn over records? The AI rep did come up with a name, but the point is that any librarian who admits to having received a request by the government could be prosecuted under the Patriot Act! So we're in this bizarre catch-22 world in which the law forbids people from submitting evidence that is being demanded in order to demonstrate the extreme nature of the law. After extremely acrimonious debate, during which the Republican representatives refused to discuss the matter at hand (the Patriot Act and violations of civil liberties) and chose instead to dwell on sensationalist news stories, a Republican staffer abruptly turned off the microphones. One of the witnesses whose testimony was abrubtly ended, James Zogby of the Arab American Institute, had this to say about the event:
"I just saw something...totally inappropriate. No mic on and no record being kept. But I think as we are lecturing foreign governments about the conduct of their behavior with regard to opposition -- when I see the behavior I saw here today as an American -- I'm really troubled about what kind of lesson this is going to teach to other countries in the world about how they ought to conduct an open society that allows for an opposition with rights. I'm sorry, I'm very offended."