Tuesday, June 27, 2006


There's been a lot made of the famous kiss lately--the one President Bush planted on the compliant cheek of his favorite Democrat, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman.

Well, something about this pricked up my ears. For one thing, it struck me as odd the way Time Magazine keeps drumming home the phrase "moderate senator Joseph Lieberman," as if Lieberman's across-the-board support of everything from the War On Terror to Bush's rabid judicial nominees, torture, and illegal wire-tapping, were just "moderate" positions that any reasonable, ethical person should take.

But that kiss has been hounding me, too. I just didn't know what to make of it. Then I got to snooping around, made a few calls. One thing lead to another and--presto! Out of the blue, I hooked up with a source who I'll just have to call, well--"Deep Throat." Yes, I know it's been used before. But with all due respect to the other one, now it suddenly seems even more appropriate.

Anyway, this source, who is pretty high up in the administration, told me he has seen the President with Joe Lieberman on numerous occasions, and insists that the kiss on the cheek was just a sample, "a mere trifling." In fact, the President was observed on two separate occasions actually groping the moderate Democratic senator in the back seat of a limosine as they sped off to a fishing retreat in the Wyoming mountains. A sheepherder in the area left a signed affidavit with the postmaster in Thermopolis saying that he had observed them sleeping in the same tent, cavorting in the weeds, and riding horseback together--on the same horse. And upon their return both times, witnesses say they brought back no fish in their baskets and that their equipment looked as shiny as when it was originally purchased at a Riverton, Wyoming WalMart.

Meanwhile, Laura Bush seems to have been under quite a bit of stress lately, underscored by the fact that she has been taking prescription anti-depressants dating back precisely to her husband's June, 2005 State of the Union Address--yes, the night of that furtive quick smooch.

And later at a garden party that same night, the President's wife walked in on the two fishing buddies and was "knocked off her feet" when she saw her husband sticking his tongue down the moderate senator's throat.

Not surprisingly, this story has gone largely unreported in the main-stream press, but is apparently rather well known in the somewhat incestuous political circles of the Capitol city. Privately, Hillary Clinton has expressed dismay that she did not receive the same or similar treatment from the President as her fellow senator. After all, she insists, she has been just as supportive of the President's policies, and she is better looking. Or, at least, she believes so.

Senator John McCain observed Lieberman standing so often with the Republicans and applauding the President during his State of the Union Address, that he thought of Lieberman as "The Lone Ranger," and said he "secretly wished that Joe would don a white hat and mask and come across the aisle and sit with me. I would gladly play Tonto to his Trigger anytime," McCain is said to have said.

Deep Throat has noticed that moderate Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has been even more stormy than usual of late, and thinks her recent lashings out at Iran and her expressed desire to "drop a nuclear bomb on somebody" might be an attempt to vent certain undefined frustrations on "any small middle Eastern country." (In addition to Iraq, of course.)

All these events could go a long way toward explaining the vehemence of Congressional Republicans in their quest to cobble together a marriage amendment that would strictly define marriage as the union between a man and a woman. Bearing in mind that Joe Lieberman could well be defeated in his next senatorial election, which would thus leave him emotionally spent and at loose ends, there is some speculation that at the end of the President's term, Bush might be contemplating leaving his wife and running off with the former senator. Should the two of them turn up married in San Francisco, it could prove a huge embarrassment to the GOP. Hence, the rush to pass the marriage amendment.

Incidentally, Deep Throat thinks there may be a last-minute attempt to insert some extra language into the proposed amendment that would make legal only those black marriages that adhere to the old ritual of jumping the broom.

Meanwhile, the question of whether Hispanics seeking marriage would be required to jump over a bucket of water (representing the Rio Grande), break a pinada while blindfolded or perform some other rite, is still being debated by some Republican senators.

Monday, June 26, 2006


From Democracy Now!:
An investigation by the Los Angeles Times concludes that 50,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the start of the Iraq War. Other studies put the toll far higher. In 2004, a Johns Hopkins study published in the British medical journal Lancet estimated Iraqi civilian deaths at over 100,000. That number was considered conservative because it excluded the toll in Fallujah, one of the hardest hit cities in the invasion. The L.A. Times estimate is based on statistics from the Baghdad morgue, the Iraqi Health Ministry and other agencies. Their figure is at least 20,000 more than the Bush Administration publicly acknowledges.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


An Apology to Republicans by Garrison Keillor
Having been called names, one looks back at one's own angry outbursts over the years, and I recall having once referred to Republicans as hairy-backed swamp developers, fundamentalist bullies, freelance racists, hobby cops, sweatshop tycoons, line jumpers, marsupial moms and aluminum-siding salesmen, misanthropic frat boys, ninja ditto heads, shrieking midgets, tax cheats, cheese merchants, cat stranglers, pill pushers, nihilists in golf pants, backed-up Baptists, the grand pooh-bahs of Percodan, mouth breathers, testosterone junkies and brown shirts in pinstripes.

I look at those words now, and 'cat stranglers' seems excessive to me. The number of cat stranglers in the ranks of the Republican Party is surely low, and that reference was hurtful to Republicans and to cat owners. I feel sheepish about it.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


(edited from my comment at Body and Soul)
When I talk with close friends it turns out that I'm considered the starry-eyed one, who believes that things will start to turn around, perhaps in November. I also believed that things simply had to take a turn for the better in 2004. Despite the setbacks, I see the toughness, the intelligence and compassion of people in the blogs I read every day; and I understand that the outcome for our country depends upon the deeper resources of our community and our national character.

I don't know what political change will come in November. But I can't yield to any rising consensus about how doomed we are. I went with two friends to see the Al Gore movie, "An Inconvenient Truth", which,-- although it shows an awful forecast for our world if we don't reverse the damage,-- also conveyed our human potential to make moral choices. In that sense it was uplifting. The choice remains with us. as it always has.

When the news that President Kennedy had been shot came out, I was sitting in my high school math class; we had just come in from lunch. The intercom sputtered strangely, with low background chatter that seemed to put my nerves on edge. Right away I sensed that something was wrong. They gave us the news about the shooting, and Miss Morris, our teacher, said in shock, "Well, I guess we just go home", a repetition of the announcement. My friend, Donnie East, had driven Ray Lewis and I to school that morning, and was waiting for us in the parking lot. We were just driving away in the '52 Chevy; the old radio was a disaster, and we heard a jumble of voices, not quite synchronized, say these words, "The President is dead".

We were 17 years old. I was sitting in the back seat. Donnie switched off the radio, turned his head to the side and said, "We're in for it, now."

Monday, June 19, 2006


Liberals are too damn nice. And the other side is well aware of it. The minions on the right have stolen the language, and too often we have let them get away with it. They have cornered the God language. They have pocketed the patriotism language. They have a non-hero in the White House who keeps trying to impersonate General MacArthur everytime he opens his flap.

I still haven't gotten over the spectacle of John Kerry standing mute when he allowed his service in Vietnam and his heroism to be called into question by no less than a deserter, and raised not a finger in his own defense. That was the ultimate degradation. I mean, come on. There was Kerry debating the little ferret on national TV. He had him in his sites, with the cameras rolling. All he had to do was ask him point blank: "Okay, Mr. President. Everybody wants to know. Where were you between. . ." and cite the dates when Bush went missing from his National Guard duty. This is basic lawyer stuff, isn't it? You ask the crook a question to which you already know the answer, then watch him hoist on his own petard.

But Kerry let the moment slip away, along with his shot at the White House. When you're dealing with the likes of Rove, Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney, you just can't keep on being Mr. Nice Guy, for they will chew you up and spit you out. They had Kerry on the ropes for the entire ten rounds and our guy never got off a lick.


Now, I've run across this article by the Reverend Jim Rigby on Alternet, called Don't Bow To God's Bullies. In the comments section, which ran on for well over three hundred responses--quite lively it was--there erupted a mini-firestorm of debate over the issue of certain people calling themselves "Brights." "Brights? What the hell is that?" I asked myself. Well, turns out they're just agnostics and atheists. But those particular words have been so shit on by all the so-called Christians and various wingnuts on the right, that now everybody's scared to use the actual words to describe what, in fact, they are. Just like they're too frightened to call themselves "liberals."

Basically, we have allowed this wrecking crew to manipulate and undermine the language. Because why? Because we're too damned nice.

To me, the word, "agnostic" is a perfectly acceptable term, and I'm not afraid to use it in describing myself. According to my Webster's Dictionary, the word was coined by Thomas Huxley in 1870. It derives from the Greek, agnostos, "unknown, unknowable." It is defined as "a person who believes that the human mind cannot know whether there is a God or an ultimate cause, or anything beyond material phenomena." What's wrong with that?

But no, that word has been ruined. So now we have the word "Bright." Great. I guess we'll see how long it lasts. Because I'm willing to bet money it won't be long till all the mindless cretins sieze on that word for a new target, for that is what they are good at, and then it, too, will go the way of "agnostic" and "liberal" and even "revolution," which was first co-opted by the likes of Newt Gingrich and the odious Grover Norquist, then spread like wildfire among the Neocons, till now the word doesn't even resemble what it originally meant.

The only right thing to do is to reclaim the language, indeed, to stand up for it, instead of always shrinking away, scrambling around like timid mice in search of ever more pleasing and obsequious alternatives. Yes, sir, I believe in the Constitution and Democracy and the rule of law. I believe it is wrong and unAmerican to incarcerate people without due process, and it is a grotesque wrong and a sin--if ever there was one--to torture people. I believe everyone has a fundamental right to food, water, health care. I believe in libraries. I believe in a living wage. And if all these things make me a "Liberal," then Hallelujah!--sign me up! Rather than hide from it, I embrace the term.

And if I'm not sure if there's a God in the heavens, and that makes me an "agnostic," then all it means is "I don't know," and where's the shame in that?

Sunday, June 18, 2006


The three men proceeded with plans to get past the entrapment of the US prison at Guantanamo. Each one of them made a noose out of strips of bedsheets in his own cell; each put a ball of cloth down his throat to silence the gurgling and the gasps. Their plan was the Great Escape from indefinite confinement. No razor wire would suffice to block their way. They were out of options, ready for the breakout. They could do without the dark of the moon, in the wee hours of Saturday, the 10th of June.

One of the dead, a Saudi, Mr. al-Utaybi, had not been informed by camp officials that he, like 141 other prisoners, was due to be released. The authorities were to release him, and he had been declared a "safe person". Ali Abdullah Ahmed from Yemen, and another Saudi, Yasser Talal al-Zahrani, also committed suicide by hanging themselves that night.

Nothing that the responsible authorities said, in the aftermath of this tragedy, helped clear up America's increasingly corrupt image. The Joint Task Force commander at Guantanamo, Rear Admiral Harry Harris said, "This was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetric warfare committed against us". The Admiral reminded the world that like 9/11, it was after all, an attack.

Harris had said that three men, detainees in a US military prison, men who were imprisoned indefinitely with no legal rights whatsoever, would not act out of desperation. According to Admiral Harris, by hanging themselves sometime after midnight in their cells, they committed an act of asymmetric war. This is a special assignment for the word, asymmetric, to signify a lopsided relationship. There is certainly an asymmetric relationship between the helpless and the powerful. And what temerity it is, for tormented men to show their own dead bodies to their tormenters--to their torturers even--guards and officials at Guantanamo, the powerful who claim that being confronted with their own crimes is an act of war.

Coleen Graffy threw in her two cents, representing the State Department, as diplomatic Deputy Assistant Secretary: "Taking their own lives was not necessary, but it certainly is a good PR move".

Three must die to set the others free. Before the suicides this mantra of hopelessness had been circulating around the camp. What were the men thinking as they laid down their lives?

The death by suicide of three men in American military custody is, in part, the result of a prolonged information blackout that has concealed so much suffering and pain. The military authorities have conformed to administration policy; and America has been diminished every time a prisoner has been tortured in the camp, whenever a man has been beaten, whenever he has been broken by stress positions or waterboarding, or in the case of one of the dead men, when he could have been offered information about his release, which would have given him hope.

Hamdan vs Rumsfeld is a case which may soon be heard in the Supreme Court. Salim Hamdan, who is held at Guantanamo, is accused of being a chauffeur for Osama bin Laden, of driving the al-Qaeda chief around in Afghanistan. The Bush administration has filed a motion with the High Court to have every pending appeal by others at the camp, including Hamdan's, thrown out of federal court. Under a disputed provision of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, military captives, such as those at Guantanamo, are denied the right to petition the courts with writs of habeas corpus.

A habeas corpus petitioner can compel his wardens or captors to present the basis for his captivity to a judge, who can then rule on the legality of the detention. The issue under this writ, which we inherited from English law, is not about determining innocence or guilt; however, it is concerned with whether there is sufficient cause to hold prisoners, or a question of mistaken identity.

What a cruel irony it is, that a bill designed to protect the detainees, under the Geneva Conventions and Army regulation covering POWs, was amended by Senator Lindsey Graham to deny any detainee the right to a writ of habeas corpus. And to compound the injustice, the administration claims that this provision should be interpreted to mean that already pending applications to the court should be dismissed.

All the doors were closed upon the men who hanged themselves. What was left then?-- but to make the Great Escape to set others free?

Friday, June 16, 2006


From Democracy Now--

Global military spending has reached a new record high of over $1.1 trillion dollars. The United States accounts for nearly half of that total. According to the report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States spent $1,600 on its military for every American. Meanwhile, China spent just $31 per person. India spent less than $19 per person. The study also determined that military spending is actually decreasing in Europe, with the biggest cuts recorded in England and Spain.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


In case anybody missed it, the Raptures occurred on the day after the “Day of the Beast.” The Day of the Beast was June 6th. The next morning, June 7th, at precisely ten a.m., the Raptures occurred, according to an expert Source.

As usual, the mainstream press either skipped the event entirely or else simply failed to report it. Apparently, it wasn't as big a deal as so many of the Christian community have long been certain it would be. Numerous witnesses in the Middle East, from Iraq to Israel, reported seeing the son of God appear in a cloud, then disappear after hovering there for about thirty minutes.

As of this writing, there have been no confirmed reports or sightings of people actually being swept into the air, and flying up to the open arms of Jesus. Descriptions of the event, variously known as “The End Times,” “The Raptures,” “The Great Snatch,” and so on, usually involve descriptions of people flying out the windows of their homes, or being sucked abruptly from their cars, thus leaving their vehicles to careen out of control, running off the road, smashing into bridges, or colliding with other cars still manned by unsaved sinners. Likewise, suddenly unpiloted aircraft plummet from the sky, babies and other loved ones disappear, homes burst into flames, and so on.

Apparently those who are “raptured” get a free “Go Be With The Lord Pass.” Instead of dying, they are snatched up and transported directly to be with the Lord. Enoch is said to be the first person to be raptured (See Genesis 5:24). Others include Elijah, Isaiah, Philip, Paul, Calvin Coolidge, and numerous others.

The ones who are “left behind,” including all unbelieving Jews, as well as the unconverted, are marked for eternal annihilation in the “lake of fire.”

Predictions for the Rapture have been frequent, and obviously incorrect. The most recent predictions have been 1988, '89, '92, '93, '94, '97, '98, and 2000. In the final Rapture, millions of believers were predicted to be swept up like a school of guppies in God's big net. It is thought that these millions have been anxiously anticipating this historic event for some thirty years, if not longer.

We at Tholos are both honored and humbled to be able to break this story. Obviously, we are not free to divulge our Source, but let's just say we have it on pretty damned good authority.

We hesitated at first to report it, knowing that few would believe it, especially those who have long expressed confidence that they would be among the “elect” to be raptured. At the same time, we feared setting off a wave of hysteria or panic among those same persons once it dawned on them that they might not have “made the cut” after all. Ultimately, we just felt the story was too important to let it go unreported; such was the precedent set by such newspapers as The New York Times, which sat on the NSA spy story for a full year before reporting it.

In light of there being no conclusive evidence that anyone was actually “raptured” on June 7, i.e., no cars careening, no planes falling from the sky, no loved ones suddenly vanishing, leaving piles of rumpled clothes in their place, the question arises, how can it be called “The Raptures”?

We feel this is strictly a theological question best left to the experts, such as Pat Robertson or Tim LaHaye. We only know that our Source, who is very highly placed, and whose credentials are without peer, confirmed for us that, indeed, The Raptures did occur on June 7. "Is that all there is to it?" he was asked. "Yes, that's all there is," he replied, "So just keep dancing, break out the booze, and have a ball."

Saturday, June 03, 2006


So here we are in the 21st century, where it's possible to board a jet plane, fly over a vast ocean, and be sitting in a Paris bistro in a matter of hours, or land people, robots and port-a-potties on the moon or Mars; We can transplant hearts and kidneys; we could, if we chose to, construct cars that could run three hundred miles without using one gallon of gas. Yet (according to my newspaper), there are people walking around in our very midst, expressing the fear of having their babies born on June 6, 06, because the three sixes (666) represent to them the “mark of the beast.” Even more astonishing is that a newspaper would devote space to these true believers and their medieval religious superstitions. It would be interesting to know how many of them, worried about birthing babies on the “day of the beast,” actually voted for George W. Bush. And whether they would have any concern at all that U.S. marines are going around massacring men, women, children, and even babies, in their homes in Iraq. But that would probably be getting a little too real for them.

At any rate, here's yet another snapshot of our culture taken in these United States, as well as an indicator of the extent to which religious quackery has gotten a foothold here, all the way up to the highest offices of government. Only a few weeks ago, we were treated to the spectacle of the President of the United States (a self-avowed “Born Again Christian”) going into stuttering, stammering mode, with smoke issuing from his ears, as he tried to answer a reporter's question whether he believed in Armageddon as it is described in the Old Testament, since it had become widely known that he was anxious to drop nuclear bombs on Iran.

Recently thwarted in their plan to set off a nuclear device in the Nevada desert, which would have unleashed the biggest explosion in history, and sent up a ten-thousand foot radioactive cloud, the Bush Administration now proposes to outfit their Trident Submarine launched ICBMs with non-nuclear warheads, the idea being that we would then have the capability of striking any city on earth in less time than it takes to watch an episode of 24, and we could do so without generating all that nasty old nuclear fallout. The problem, of course, is that the target country, or countries, watching the arc of the incoming on their radar screens, would have no idea whether it was nuclear or non-nuclear ordinance coming for them via Special Delivery, and with little or no time to finesse a decision about how to respond, would probably just slam their hands down on the nuclear button, and ask questions later, assuming anyone is left to ask questions or anyone else is left to answer them.

What possible motive could they have for wanting to do this, unless it would be to clarify for everyone on the planet who is in charge?

It's not the first time that so-called Christians with delusions of Christian righteousness have posed a threat to the rest of the world, but never before have they had such unrestrained power at their quivering fingertips. And never have so many either passively or aggressively backed them in their enterprise.

From this moment forward, the rest of the world should be put on notice: first of all, by any standard of reasonable, rational behavior, the people who are in charge of this country, my country, are insane, and ought to be locked up, or at least restrained in some way. Specifically, they are psychopaths. Meaning they are indifferent to the consequences of their actions, devoid of any concern for the welfare of other humans on the planet. Second, the legislative body, the Congress of the United States, which is supposed to furnish protections against lunatics in the Executive branch, is completely dysfunctional.

In other words, there's no one here who is thinking rationally, who is minding the store.

Other countries in the world should be absolutely clear about what this means, for their survival could depend on it. Because basically, it means that whatever these people can dream up, whatever they can imagine, you can just about be certain they will try it out, and it appears that nothing and no one will deter them from trying it.

Thus, if they decide to blow something up, chances are, no one will stop them. If they want to invade a country, no one will object too strenuously. If they want to fire off ICBMs at Iran or Iraq or North Korea or Nevada or Paris, France, they will figure out a way to do it.

Again, our Congress is currently sitting down. They show little to no signs of life. The President has announced to their collective sheepish face that he is breaking certain laws and that he intends to break others. The esteemed members of the House and Senate, having enriched themselves for so long at the corporate trough, have apparently decided that is sufficient, and that therefore actually doing their jobs is an unnecessary inconvenience. So, they appear altogether satisfied, if not entirely content, with this new arrangement.

The point is, if Bush and these other lunatics are to be stopped, better not count on it happening here. It is therefore incumbent upon the rest of the world community to intervene, if possible. Indeed, it could prove essential to their health and safety to do so.

How should it be done? I recommend some kind of collective action on the part of other nations. Simple ostracism, public shaming, are good places to start, although Bush and his gang have shown no indication that shaming actually works. However, it seems to me that all nations composed of decent citizens having respect for democracy, for the rule of law, or just possessing a modicum of self-respect, ought to be telling Bush and his crew to stay the hell out of their countries until the U.S. can conduct itself as a civilized participant in the world community. "Don't call us, we'll call you."

Next, enforce the law. Call the World Court into session and try the entire Bush cabal for war crimes—in absentia, if necessary. Make it impossible for them to travel outside this country, under threat of being arrested and jailed, as the criminals they are.

Oh. . . I wouldn't wait too long, if I were you.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Democracy is only as good as an informed citizenry allows. Using stealth, and following an unmistakable pattern of behavior, the Bush administration has undertaken to deprive Americans of their free speech rights. When the administration set up the machinery of the Patriot Act, the law's covert machinery posed a danger to free speech as well as other rights. And America's leaders were determined to abridge those rights, even as they tirelessly assured the public that there was no cause for alarm.

The reassurances of Attorney Generals, John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, were only intended to lull the people into a pleasing accommodation in the matter of spying on previously confidential library records. The Patriot Act, to be sure, contained provisions for the issuing of National Security Letters to librarians, which would compel them, under penalty of law, to turn over personal information about library patrons, all records of books checked out, all records of Internet access.

And the most sinister aspect of the law, required the librarians to conform to a code of silence. Compelled by law, they could not speak about the spying--not to anyone--neither to the press, nor to co-workers, nor friends, nor even to family.

After the September 11th attack, when the Patriot Act was rushed through Congress, this provision became more widely known, and there was a beginning of protest and controversy. But througout this debate, a gullible press and public were repeatedly soothed by comments from Attorney General Ashcroft, and the man who replaced him, Alberto Gonzales. Americans were not to trouble themselves about this provision. Again and again, they were told that this provision was in place as a precaution; again and again, they were told that--as things stand now--such a measure had not been used even once.

After the 2004 election, further opportunities for these official lies were urgently pursued. One of the more outrageous opportunities was during the debate, last winter, over the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, when some of its "sunset provisions" were about to run out. Here again, government actions, taken in secret, were making a mockery of that debate. Unknown to those in Congess, the administration had already issued National Security Letters to a group of librarians in Connecticut. Congessmen and Senators were unaware that these particular librarians were issued NSLs and were gagged under provisions of the Patriot Act.

The gagged librarians hoped to alert Congress, before debate over the reauthorization of the law had run its course. And so, taking the risk of even consulting lawyers, they filed a class action suit, as a collectively anonymous, John Doe, in the case of "Doe vs Gonzales". They won in lower courts but were held up in further appeals by a government that was determined to win the battle in Congress, before dropping its lingering appeals case, and releasing the four librarians from the gag orders.

Janet Nocek, George Christian, Barbara Bailey, and Peter Chase are the four heroes in the "Doe vs Gonzales" case. They are American heroes; and perhaps one day, an American president will honor them in a ceremony at the White House. A few days ago, on May 30, they issued statements to the press.

In their own words, here are excerpts from those statements:
--Janet Nocek, Library Director, Portland Library, Portland, Connecticut:

"Imagine the government came to you with an order demanding that you compromise your professional and personal principles. Imagine then being permanently gagged from speaking to your friends, your family or your colleagues about this wrenching experience."

"Under the Patriot Act, the FBI demanded Internet and library records without showing any evidence or suspicion of wrongdoing to a court of law."

"My involvement in this case has exposed me to an element of fear, with the realization that there are secretive doings by our government that abridge the rights of its citizens."

"There are other recipients of [National Security Letters] who have permanently been denied their constitutional rights and I hope that our testimony on the effects of the gag will eventually bring about change in the law, that would provide for lifting those gags at appointed times."

--George Christian, Executive Director, Library Connections, Inc, Windsor Connecticut:

"The entire Patriot Act was up for renewal last winter, and I very much wanted to focus public attention and the attention of Congress on my concerns."

"Since the Justice Department gave no other reason for its sudden decision to stop opposing my appeal on the gag order, I can only conclude that the intent of the delay was to keep me from speaking to Congress while the renewal of the Patriot Act was being debated. I am embarrassed that my government would stoop to tactics like this to stifle free and open debate."

"The fact that I can speak now is a little like being permitted to call the Fire Department only after a building has burned to the ground."

"Professionally, I found the gag order to be very compromising. My job is to manage a corporation owned and entirely funded by its participating member libraries. To operate successfuly, I need to maintain their confidence and trust. Although I had the full cooperation of the executive of the board of directors, neither I nor the committee members could reveal to the rest of the board or to the membership at large that we had been served with an NSL without risking procecution."

--Barbara Bailey, President, Library Connections, Inc,
Director, Welles-Turner:

"Because of the gag, the government would not even allow us to attend the hearing in our case anonymously, so we watched via closed circuit television in a federal building in another city. To gain entry to the building, we needed to pass through two levels of security and sit in a locked room with a security officer; we were plaintiffs, but we were treated like criminals."

"Due to some sloppy redacting on the government's part, our identity was eventually revealed to those who took the time to plow through the court briefs. Even though our identity was public due to their own mistakes, the government still insisted that we could not speak."

"After this case received national attention, I was asked to accept an award from our professional association on behalf of John Doe. As much as I really wanted to do it, I had to decline because we were still gagged by the government."

"Undoubtedly, this battle--which is not over yet--has been interesting and exciting for a small town librarian. Our case helped raise awareness about the far-reaching powers of the Patriot Act, not just in Connecticut, but throughout the country. We showed our fellow Americans that this was not just some theoretical political debate. The Patriot Act affects real lives, and even an ordinary American like me can end up being targeted by the FBI."

--Peter Chase, Vice President, Library Connections, Inc,
Chairman, Intellectual Freedom Committee for the Connecticut
Library Association:

"When I and my colleagues received FBI National Security Letters demanding access to our patron's records, I knew that this power had"..."already been declared unconstitutional by a district court in New York. The government was telling Congress that it didn't use the Patriot Act against libraries and that no one's rights had been violated. I felt that I just could not be part of this fraud being foisted on our nation. We had to defend our patrons and ourselves, and so, represented by the ACLU, we filed a lawsuit challenging the government's power to demand these records without a court order."

"It was galling to me to see the government's attorney, Kevin O'Conner, travel around the state telling people that the library records were safe, while at the same time he was enforcing a gag order preventing me from telling people that their library records were not safe."

"While all this was going on, Congress reauthorized the Patriot Act, and the government assured Congress that no one's right to free speech had ever been violated."

copeland morris ENTWINED SONNET

Her shaded eyes, her necklace black velvet, onyx. Anguish she spoke; and he carried on, obsessed As only a young man could. An odd harm...