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Connecticut library case records show government over-censorship: ACLU

[JURIST] Documents made public [ACLU press release] Thursday show the US government ordered the ACLU to censor copies of newspaper articles and several instances of unfavorable Supreme Court language that appeared in ACLU papers over the course of litigation involving the FBI and four Connecticut librarians who challenged a National Security Letter (NSL) [text, PDF; ACLU backgrounder] they received last year. US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Wednesday ordered the public disclosure of the case record [JURIST report] upon the petition of the ACLU, counsel for the librarians, who argued that the documents should be released because the FBI concluded their investigation [JURIST report] in June.

The ACLU said Thursday that the released documents reveal a Bush Administration tendency to over-censor public information. For example, this page [image] of Ginsburg's 2005 opinion in Doe v. Gonzales [PDF text] was censored, and the Connecticut librarians were banned from acknowledging that they were subject to an investigation, even though this New York Times article [text] had already revealed their identities.

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 anti-terror legislation in March. Federal prosecutors abandoned appeal efforts [JURIST report] in April 2006. AP has more.

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