Friday, 3 June 1988
THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE FILED SUIT AGAINST THE FBI
yesterday to force the release of documents relevant to the FBI's
"Library Awareness Program" (WN 9 Oct 87).
The documents were
requested under the Freedom of Information Act eleven months
ago. The FBI at first denied the existence of the program, and
now contends it is confined to the New York area, but librarians
from all over the country report FBI visits. Meanwhile, the FBI
has not provided a single document either to the National
Security Archive, or to the American Library Association, which
filed a similar FOIA request. People for the American Way is
assisting the National Security Archive in its lawsuit.
. THE FBI'S "LIBRARY AWARENESS PROGRAM"
is not an effort to
raise the literacy of its agents. Even as President Reagan was
lecturing to students at the University of Moscow on the virtues
of a free society, his new FBI chief, William Sessions, before a
Senate Committee, was defending the FBI's attempts to recruit
library employees as snitches. Sessions released an unclassified
version of a top-secret FBI report that must have been ghost
written by Art Buchwald. Entitled "The KGB and the Library
Target: 1962 - Present," it includes examples of suspicious
behavior, such as an individual who "is observed departing the
library after having placed microfiche or various documents in a
briefcase without properly checking them out of the library."
3. "WHAT'S NEW" CARRIED THE FIRST REPORT OF THE FBI'S INQUIRY
into reading habits nearly two years ago (5 Sep 86). FBI agents
had asked the physics library at the University of Maryland for
circulation records of persons with "East European or Russian
sounding names." A year later the New York Times broke the story
nationally after two agents made a similar approach to a clerk at
the Math/Science Library at Columbia. Confidentiality of library
records is protected by law in New York, Maryland and 36 other
states. The agents did not resemble Elliot Ness so much as
Inspector Clouseau. In a Brooklyn public library, a trench-
coated agent flashed his badge and asked the librarian to "look
out for suspicious looking people who want to overthrow the
government." In defending the program, the FBI's Assistant
Director for Counter-Intelligence explained that the FBI was not
asking librarians to spy. They just want them to look out for
people who are "acting funny." Among his examples were persons
who copy large quantities of technical material. That net would
capture virtually every physics graduate student.
4. THE REVOLVING DOOR GOT STUCK ON THE NOMINATION OF ROBERT O.
to become Director of the DOE's Office of Energy Research
replacing Al Trivelpiece. Hunter was first nominated to the post
a year ago
(WN 26 Jun 87)
, but the 100th Congress took no action.
On the eve of his departure for Moscow, the President reinstated
the nomination. With just six months left, action is doubtful.