FBI drops library records investigation Jaime Jansen at 2:16 PM ET
[JURIST] The FBI [official website] on Monday dropped its investigation into the library records of a Connecticut library, concluding that the identity of patrons using a particular computer last February no longer posed a threat to national security. Four librarians mounted a challenge against the National Security Letter (NSL) [text, PDF; ACLU backgrounder] they received last year, refusing to turn over library records and protesting the government's insistence that the librarians not disclose the NSL. In a statement [press release] Monday, the FBI said that they determined through other means that patrons using the particular computer during a 45-minute time period last February did not pose a threat and ended the investigation. Though the FBI maintains that they successfully discounted the threat posed, the decision to drop the investigation prompted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] to call it a victory for the four librarians who refused to comply [press release].
The ACLU last year filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] on behalf of the library, and in September US District Judge Janet Hall lifted the gag order [JURIST report] restricting the four librarians from disclosing that they had received a NSL, ruling that it unfairly prevented librarians from participating in debate about the proper revision of the USA Patriot Act [JURIST news archive] before the government renewed [JURIST report] the Act in March. Federal prosecutors abandoned appeal efforts [JURIST report] in April 2006. The New York Times has more. The Connecticut Post has local coverage.
Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible, ad-free format.