Vol. 1, Issue 10, July 22, 2003
Think Difference (Engine).
The Sleaze

Patriot Act Amendment Grants Power to Librarians

President Bush has signed an Executive Order which amends the Patriot Act of 2001 to grant increased power to librarians.

"We believe that this important amendment will go a long way to ensuring that the highly valuable information stored on the shelves of America's public libraries, will not fall into the hands of the wrong people, or be abused in any way," said the President at a Rose Garden ceremony last Saturday. "Al Qaeda will think twice now about planning attacks on Americans with books from American libraries."

The amendment grants librarians increased latitude for surveillance, pursuit, and even punishment of those who do not use the system appropriately. For example, librarians will now have the power to exact fines of up to $1.00 per day, up from the current average of ten cents. They will also have the power to flog, keelhaul, and detain indefinitely those who abuse library privileges, as well as wear firearms, although silencers will be required for these.

"I am particularly looking forward to installing the new homing sensors in all our titles," said reference librarian Adrienne Phelps. "I imagine it will greatly enhance our ability to locate those missing Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew titles, at which point we can exact appropriate penalties from the miscreants abusing their library privileges." Phelps has recently acquired a cat o'nine tails in preparation for the new amendment, which goes into effect on July 31.

It is widely suspected among Democratic analysts that the amendment is an effort on behalf of the President to make up for a missed anniversary. First Lady Laura Bush is a former librarian and has adopted library and literacy-related themes as core concerns for her term in the White House.

"We know that First Lady Laura Bush has previously mentioned frustration with the lack of punitive authority in her position at the library," said Brookings Institution senior fellow Roger Bruce. "And we know that the President has a habit of issuing Executive Orders as a means of pleasing his family, including the pardons granted to his daughters following that incident at the bar in 2001. But we are somewhat surprised that he's added powers of such Orwellian proportions to a previously unheralded component of the American law enforcement infrastructure."

It is unclear as to whether the new laws will prevent dangerous information from falling into the wrong hands. "Well, most public libraries don't exactly have a plethora of up-to-date science-related materials," added Bruce. "Unless they're looking for murder mysteries or plastic-bound science fiction from the sixties, terrorists would be hard pressed to find anything useful there." Bruce acknowledged, however, that the amendment is not in violation of the Freedom of Information act, since it mainly provides power to punish people after checking information out, rather than preventing access to the information in the first place.

"Frankly, we're all a little stymied by this one," said Bruce.


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