LWV of Weston had both for an earlier forum...our local league was a step ahead of other levels of league (state and national)

Weston LWV speakers were Teresa Younger and Kevin O'Connor -- Ms. Younger now head of Permanent Commission on the Status of Women in CT and moving up to an extra responsibility, prosecutor O'Connor.

Drug agents plumb vast database of call records
Updated 8:18 pm, Monday, September 2, 2013
SEATTLE (AP) — For at least six years, federal drug and other agents have had near-immediate access to billions of phone call records dating back decades in a collaboration with AT&T that officials have taken pains to keep secret, newly released documents show.

The program, previously reported by ABC News and The New York Times, is called the Hemisphere Project. It's paid for by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and it allows investigators armed with subpoenas to quickly mine the company's vast database to help track down drug traffickers or other suspects who switch cellphones to avoid detection.

The details of the Hemisphere Project come amid a national debate about the federal government's access to phone records, particularly the bulk collection of phone records for national security purposes. Hemisphere, however, takes a different approach from that of the National Security Agency, which maintains a database of call records handed over by phone companies as authorized by the USA Patriot Act.

"Subpoenaing drug dealers' phone records is a bread-and-butter tactic in the course of criminal investigations," Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said in an email. "The records are maintained at all times by the phone company, not the government. This program simply streamlines the process of serving the subpoena to the phone company so law enforcement can quickly keep up with drug dealers when they switch phone numbers to try to avoid detection."

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the CT POST website]

Himes: Time to Reel In Patriot Act, Limit Gov’t Collection of Americans’ Data
by Lon Seidman | Jun 27, 2013 11:42pm

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, Connecticut’s only delegate on the House Intelligence Committee, says it is time to narrow the scope of the Patriot Act.

Himes made the statement Thursday, about six months into his tenure on the committee, and following a whistleblower’s revelation that the National Security Agency has been collecting massive amounts of Americans’ digital communications data.

Pointing to a provision in the Patriot Act that says the government can capture “any tangible thing,” Himes said the scope of the authority the Patriot Act grants to the government should be more specific.

“We have very broad interpretations of those broadly written statutes,” Himes said, adding that making the language more specific about exactly what the government can and can’t do will help better balance national security with civil liberties.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, revealed the documents showing that the government has been capturing and storing the telephone records of every call conducted over Verizon’s network. He also showed the government’s efforts to capture data packets traveling over the Internet.

The Patriot Act, which grants broad authority to the government, has essentially made these practices legal. Himes says there may be better ways to retain this information without the government holding the data.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the CT NEWS JUNKIE website]

Hartford Courant Library Series: 
Hartford Public Library: A Study In Bad Behavior
By TINA A. BROWN And STEVEN GOODE | Courant Staff Writers
May 18, 2008

A $42 million makeover has transformed Hartford Public Library into a gleaming expanse of glass and well-lit, open space that warmly welcomes visitors.

Measured by a dramatic increase in library visits, the invitation has been widely accepted. The changes inside the library's three floors went beyond adding space, reconfiguring the layout and increasing the number of books, DVDs and computers. It's become a busier place, noisier and more vibrant, something in which chief Librarian Louise Blalock — named National Librarian of the Year in 2001 — takes pride.

But it's also a place where the behavioral norms traditionally associated with libraries are often breached, according to interviews with staff members and internal library reports obtained by The Courant.

The reports document drinking and drug use, with staff members reporting that empty liquor bottles and drug paraphernalia are often left in the restrooms. Sexual activity has been reported on several occasions. The problems reached the point where the restrooms on the library's second and third floors have been locked, according to library staff.

Acts of violence inside the library, while infrequent, do occur: In January, a patron complained of being robbed at gunpoint inside a first-floor restroom; internal reports say a subsequent investigation by security staff was unable to determine what happened.

The library also has a theft problem. Without a security system in place, CDs and DVDs disappear with regularity.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Hartford COURANT website]

Woman gives library $5,000 she received in free-speech suit's settlement
Norwich Bulletin
Posted May 20, 2008 @ 04:15 AM

Canterbury, Conn. — It was never about the money to Jeanette Kildea, and she proved that Monday night.  The Canterbury woman, who recently was awarded $60,000 in a free-speech settlement suit with the town, gave the town’s library a check for $5,000 Monday night.

“This case was never about the money,” Kildea said. “It was always about a citizen’s right to voice their position regarding the government.

“The whole idea of it all was free speech, and the library is our holder of that information.”

She was involved in a legal battle with the town for more than a year after then-First Selectmen Neil Dupont Sr. banned public comment at Board of Selectmen meetings.  In March 2007, Kildea filed a complaint with the Connecticut chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union regarding being unable to speak during several meetings between November 2005 and September 2007.  The ACLU filed several suits against the town last summer on Kildea’s behalf, alleging Dupont and Selectmen Christopher Johnson and Paul Santoro were violating state and federal freedom of speech laws.  The suit asked for an acknowledgment of wrongdoing, reinstatement of public participation and other damages, including legal fees in excess of $15,000.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Norwich Bulletin website]

A Good Choice At Justice 
DAY editorial
Published on 11/17/2007 

The nomination of U.S. Attorney Kevin J. O'Connor of Connecticut to be the third-ranking official at the federal Justice Department is a commendable choice. His confirmation would place in the associate attorney general's seat a public official widely recognized for his competency, fairness and sense of decency.

Mr. O'Connor enjoys the respect of both major parties in Connecticut because of his objectivity and thoroughness. As associate attorney general he would be responsible for enforcing civil rights, antitrust and environmental laws. He could also help the Bush administration begin to restore confidence in the Justice Department, which suffered an adverse reputation under the undistinguished and sometimes counterproductive leadership of Alberto Gonzales who resigned last September.

Mr. O'Connor will not have an easy confirmation despite his outstanding record of public service. That is because he served as chief of staff to Attorney General Gonzales for the last six months of his administration. Mr. O'Connor is likely to face stern questioning on issues of the rights of detainees and enemy combatants. In particular, senators will question Attorney General Gonzales' efforts to put a pretty face on forms of torture, such as water boarding, used in interrogation by the United States.

But Mr. O'Connor is more than up to the task. Nothing in his career suggests he shares the views of the former attorney general on these issues. Indeed, Mr. O'Connor's sense of moderation and fairness during his work in Connecticut as U.S. attorney was a major reason why he gained appointment to the attorney general's office.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at THE DAY (New London, CT) website]

It's Been A Wild Ride For AG's Chief Aide
By LYNNE TUOHY | Courant Staff Writer
September 3, 2007

Connecticut U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor is proud of the fact that he has been able to make it home from Washington, D.C., to Connecticut and his family "every single weekend except one weekend when I went to Iraq."

That barely hints at the highly unusual life O'Connor has been living this year.

O'Connor is often spotted in the background of recent photographs and footage of embattled U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, or "the judge," as O'Connor and other high-ranking staff members called him.

Since April, O'Connor has doubled as Connecticut's top federal prosecutor and Gonzales' chief of staff, a position he inherited during the escalating imbroglio over the political firings of eight top federal prosecutors late last year. Fallout from that controversy and others centering on the attorney general prompted Gonzales to resign last week effective Sept. 17.

For O'Connor, the roller coaster ride continues.

"What I'm trying to figure out is whether the judge's resignation expedites my return [to Connecticut] or delays my return," said O'Connor, 40. "I do intend to step down as chief of staff as soon as I can do so without leaving anyone in a lurch. I just want to make sure there's a smooth transition."

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Hartford COURANT website]

State regulators conclude they can probe phone records issue 
New London DAY
Posted on Mar 13, 10:07 AM EDT
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) -- The state Department of Public Utility Control has concluded that despite federal government objections, it has the authority to investigate the release of thousands of phone records to the National Security Agency.

The DPUC, in a draft decision Monday, said that it determined it has jurisdiction to look into the charge that AT&T and Verizon turned over thousands of Connecticut phone records to the NSA without warrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut filed its request for a probe with the DPUC in May 2006 after news reports that telecommunications companies turned over calling records of millions of Americans without subpoenas or court order.

In September, the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against the DPUC, saying it cannot force two telecommunications companies to answer questions about whether they provided customer records to the federal government.

The lawsuit, which is still pending, claimed the DPUC overstepped its authority when it ordered the two telecommunications companies to answer questions from the ACLU.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at THE DAY (New London, CT) website]

Hearing McCarthy Echoes
By RUTHIE ACKERMAN, Courant Staff Writer
June 11, 2006

HAMDEN -- Abuses of civil liberty by the Bush administration in its drive against terrorism compare to those of the McCarthy era in the drive against communism, an official of the American Civil Liberties Union said Saturday at Quinnipiac University.

"We are currently living in a time that the president of the United States has the broadest view of executive authority in the history of the U.S.," Ann Beeson, associate legal director of the ACLU, told Connecticut members at their annual conference.

She cited the detaining of suspects in the war on terror, and the subsequent abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, as examples, and said President Bush has used national security as a defense for his actions.

"The kidnapping of innocent people and the sending of them to places that are known to practice torture, along with the authorization of warrantless wiretapping, is a direct violation of laws Congress has passed," Beeson said.

The danger, she said, is that Congress is making itself irrelevant by its inaction.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Hartford COURANT website]

Throwing The Book At Hypocrisy
Hartford Courant
By Rick Green
June 2, 2006

All this whining by Republican leaders about the rights of the congressman accused of taking bribes who had his office searched by the FBI was getting to me, so I went looking for a real defender of the Constitution.

She was in her little office in the back of the Portland Library.

Janet Nocek is the library director in this small town, quietly keeping watch over 60,000 books and nine computers. It's her job to help people - that's anyone who walks in the door - find information. Her experience over the last year speaks volumes about what's happening in America these days.

"I was kind of complacent. I'm in a small library with a lot of things to do," Nocek recalled. "And it suddenly happens."

What happened was government snoops prying into library records of patrons' Internet use. What happened was a government gag order forbidding Nocek and librarians from saying they have a problem with this.

What's happened is government tapping of phone lines - no search warrants necessary, folks, these people aren't congressmen!

Jan Nocek is like you and me. She didn't think much about Big Government prying into her life, until it came knocking on her door.

Congress, of course, couldn't care less. But when the Justice Department, armed with search warrants, went rummaging through the office of U.S. Rep. William Jefferson - a guy who defied court subpoenas and had marked bills hidden in the home freezer - that really upset our Congressional leaders.

What an outrage.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Hartford COURANT website]

Right to privacy

CT POST editorial
Article created: 06/01/2006 04:29:23 AM EDT

The bizarre and chilling story of the state librarians who were issued gag orders by the federal government — under the auspices of the controversial USA Patriot Act — closed with its final chapter on Tuesday.

One of those librarians, George Christian, is the executive director of a nonprofit library association in Windsor and a Trumbull resident.

For several months last year, Christian was forced by the federal government not to tell anyone that the FBI was investigating the records of people using libraries here in Connecticut — even as he watched the former U.S. attorney general deny publicly that any such program existed.

Worst of all, thanks to the gag order, Christian wasn't able to testify before Congress and advocate that the renewed Patriot Act do away with gag order provisions like the one he was under that force citizens to remain silent about ongoing — and usually loosely-defined — investigations.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the CT POST website]

Silencing The Libraries:  Why the government could say the FBI wasn't invading library records and the public didn't know better.
Editorial by Day Staff Writer
Published on 6/1/2006

A good deal of the original uproar over the U.S. Patriot Act had to do with provisions that enabled the government to poke into library records in terrorist investigations. But the government persistently reassured the public that it rarely if ever took advantage of this provision.
But who was to know whether this was true? For the same legislation also imposed gag orders on librarians who received “national security letters” demanding such information. The librarians couldn't say a word to anyone, even their library boards, about anything to do with the requests.

All this has changed, by virtue of a case brought in federal court by four Connecticut librarians, though they point out it's probably too late. The four challenged FBI requests for information. But they could not publicly talk about the case because of the Patriot Act gag order. Nor could they bring to bear their personal knowledge of the issue to bear on the debate over renewing the Patriot Act.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at THE DAY (New London, CT) website]

From LWVCT information source:
NPR story about LWVCT Fall Conference 2005 ran the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, 11/23.  Link:

And the latest word...NPR reports May 30th (2006) on a follow-up about the gagged librarian!

Librarian Warns Of Secrecy In Terror Probes 
Published on 4/12/2007

Washington (AP) — A Connecticut librarian who fended off an FBI demand for computer records on patrons said Wednesday the government's secret anti-terrorism investigations strip away personal freedoms.

“Terrorists win when the fear of them induces us to destroy the rights that make us free,” George Christian told a Senate panel.

In prepared testimony, Christian said his experience “should raise a big patriotic American flag of caution” about the strain that the government's pursuit of would-be terrorists puts on civil liberties.  The government uses the Patriot Act and other laws to learn, without proper judicial oversight or any after-the-fact review, what citizens are researching in libraries, Christian said.

A recent report by the Justice Department's inspector general that found 48 violations of law or rules in the FBI's use of documents, known as national security letters, during 2003 through 2005.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at THE DAY (New London, CT) website]

Librarians Shushed No More;   Silenced Employees Finally Speak Out About Secretive FBI Letter On Internet Records
By LYNNE TUOHY, Courant Staff Writer
May 31, 2006

NEW YORK -- The four librarians at the heart of a legal battle over whether the FBI can simply demand access to patron records had to remain silent and invisible throughout the congressional debate leading to March's renewal of the controversial USA Patriot Act.

So when they spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday, the limelight was a mixed blessing.

"Being allowed to speak now is like being allowed to call the fire department after the building has burned to the ground," said George Christian, executive director of Library Connection in Windsor, a nonprofit cooperative of libraries in the Hartford area that share computerized catalogs and records.

"I'm very relieved I can speak now. ... I can talk about the dangers I perceive to libraries," Christian said. "As far as going before Congress, it's too little too late and I deeply regret that."

Christian and three Library Connection colleagues - board president Barbara Bailey, board secretary Janet Nocek and board vice president Peter Chase - challenged the FBI national security letter they received last summer to produce records of patron Internet use. The American Civil Liberties Union, whose headquarters was the site of Tuesday's press conference, championed their cause and contested the non-disclosure provisions of the security letter that prohibit recipients from telling anyone they have received one. The case was filed using a "John Doe" pseudonym.

U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall ruled in September that the librarians' First Amendment rights were violated by the gag order, particularly in the midst of national debate over the scope of the USA Patriot Act.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Hartford COURANT website]

Bush Signs Renewal of Patriot Act
New London DAY
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer
Mar 9, 6:04 PM EST
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A day before parts of the USA Patriot Act were to expire, President Bush signed into law a renewal that will allow the government to keep using terror-fighting tools passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Bush's signature came two days after the House gave final approval to the legislation over objections that it infringes on Americans' privacy. The president said the law has been vital to protecting Americans from terrorists.

"The Patriot Act has accomplished exactly what it was designed to do," Bush said during a signing ceremony in the White House East Room. "It has helped us detect terrorist cells, disrupt terrorist plots and save American lives."

Sixteen provisions of the old law were set to expire Friday. Political battles over the legislation forced Congress to extend the expiration date twice.
To get the legislation renewed, Bush was forced to accept new curbs on the Patriot Act's powers.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at THE DAY (New London, CT) website]

Modest Changes In Patriot Act
Hartford Courant editorial
December 6, 2005

Surely Congress will not allow the USA Patriot Act to expire on Dec. 31. National security requires that the government be given the necessary tools to guard against terrorism.

But before renewing the four-year-old act, lawmakers should give it careful scrutiny. The House didn't do that when it approved its version of a new Patriot Act earlier this year. That careful review is now taking place in the Senate, where lawmakers from both parties are recommending modest but sensible changes.

The senators are being encouraged by an unusual coalition that includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Civil Liberties Union. Their alliance is based on the healthy premise that individual privacy is too cherished a right to leave completely in the hands of government.

If the House bill passed the Senate intact, it would permanently empower federal agents to obtain business, Internet and library records of any citizen with minimal court review. Agents invoking "national security" do not have to explain to a judge how the information they want is connected with spies, terrorists or any foreign agents. The feds merely send a "National Security Letter" to a judge, who reviews the request in secret. Some 30,000 such letters are going out every year, according to a report in The Washington Post.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Hartford COURANT website]

Patriot Act debate grows after probe details scope
By Michael Dinan, Greenwich TIME
Published November 13 2005

A Fairfield County man has been identified as the library official at the center of a controversy surrounding the federal government's expanded investigative powers under the USA Patriot Act.

Trumbull resident George Christian, executive director of a company that manages digital records for 36 Connecticut libraries, this summer refused to comply with an FBI demand -- made through a so-called "national security letter" -- for user information of a public computer terminal, The Washington Post reported last week.  Christian's employer, Windsor-based Library Connection Inc., has filed suit to publicly protest the FBI demand -- the first-ever challenge to a gag order contained within the Patriot Act itself.

The 132-page federal law, which Congress passed a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, grants FBI officials unprecedented leeway in investigations. The revelations that the FBI issues about 30,000 national security letters every year -- pieced together by the Post -- has refired passions among librarians opposed to controversial provisions of the Patriot Act.

Alice Knapp, director of public services at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, said the Post's recent article is circulating quickly among staff members.

"We're all trading it back and forth here," said Knapp, president of the Connecticut Library Association which represents more than 1,000 library staff, donors, patrons and trustees in the state. "When I saw the sheer volume of the national security letters, I was absolutely shocked. Totally shocked."  Under the Patriot Act, more than 60 FBI field inspectors may issue national security letters, which can include demands for information about an individual's residence, telephone, e-mail, Internet use, income, purchasing, travel, investment and reading records. Issuance of a national security letter does not require that a person is suspected of terrorist activity -- only that he or she is "relevant" to an investigation.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Greenwich TIME website]

CCLU Losing Its Director
December 7, 2004 Hartford Courant

Teresa Younger, the state's first female and African American executive director of the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, plans to resign at the end of the year for a position with the national ACLU, the CCLU announced Monday.

Younger, who joined the CCLU in July 2001, will become senior organizational development manager with the national organization.

"Teresa Younger has been a wonderful leader in Connecticut for 3½ years," said Barbara Hager, who chairs the ACLU in Connecticut. "She will now help other ACLU affiliates improve their organizations, as she has helped us."

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Hartford COURANT website]

We hope you got a chance to watch the Town TV recording of our Patriot Act Forum from Weston Library's Community Room (shown twice on Saturday and twice on Sunday the first weekend in December) - THANK YOU CHANNEL 79!  Click here for update.

How did the
Patriot Act Forum (live) turn out? A quick note from LWV of Weston Board:

Thank you to all for the support of the Patriot Act Forum!  According to the Weston FORUM, our effort to air the issue was a great success--and the newspaper's report was indeed a thorough retelling of the debate.

U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor called the League's program--"what democrary is all about" and apparently both speakers down-played the dire warnings that democrary was at risk--because this law has various sunset provisions.

The Board appreciated all the help with publicity and hospitality we received from the membership!  And it was good to see everyone playing host to the community as the audience arrived--and this time they arrived!  (No official number available yet [wait for newspaper reports]--but League had to put down more chairs--so, by this method of crowd size analysis, we can assume more people showed up than had been expected!!!)  The official newspaper count (usually on the low side) was 85, a full house being 100!

Feed-back from the attendees has been very good...extra thanks to Nancy who set up the recording and the mics for us. Thanks to Town of Weston TV volunteers for taping the event!!!

A message from the LWV of Weston on the subject the Patriot Act:

The topic of the Patriot Act and its implementation was unanimously supported by the attendees of the LWVUS convention in June. 

With urgency in mind, the LWV of Weston Board has decided to present this forum to keep our members and the public up to date on this issue.  Those who attended the LWVUS Convention this year felt as one California delegate said:

"The Convention was crystal clear about what it wanted.  We were to focus on the Patriot Act and other legislation relating to government spying on its citizens.  We were concerned about Homeland Security and all the ramifications of that and we were concerned about the larger international issues relating to terrorism. I attended all the caucuses, discussed it with many League members in the halls, on floor and at meals.  There can be absolutely no doubt that the delegates concern was the threat to our civil liberties stemming from the legislation and implementation of that legislation.  We wanted League education and advocacy on that."

Chris Carson, Glendale/Burbank CA