[sixties-l] FBI snooping has librarians stamping mad (fwd)

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Date: Thu Sep 19 2002 - 23:04:31 EDT

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    Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 17:04:19 -0700
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: FBI snooping has librarians stamping mad

    FBI snooping has librarians stamping mad


    Local woman jailed in '70s in informant flap

    by Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
    Monday, September 16, 2002

    When Oakland resident Zoia Horn, an 84-year-old retired librarian, learned
    that the FBI was monitoring America's libraries, her first thought was:
    Here we go again.
    Thirty years ago, after an encounter with an FBI informant in a
    Pennsylvania college library, Horn spent nearly three weeks in jail for
    refusing to testify for the prosecution in the sensational trial of
    anti-war activists accused of a terrorist plot.
    Horn was "the first librarian who spent time in jail for a value of our
    profession," said Judith Krug, longtime director of the American Library
    Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom.
    The FBI, under pressure from Congress, eventually abandoned a Cold War
    program of library surveillance in the mid-1980s. But a post-Sept. 11 law
    has brought federal agents back into the stacks, and Horn thinks it's time
    for some librarians to take the same step she did and say no, even if it
    means jail.
    "I would tell them there are consequences, it shouldn't be done lightly,"
    said Horn, who believes her notoriety cost her some library jobs. "But
    there is a sense of freeing yourself. If you can do it, you are doing it
    for others."
    The new surveillance was authorized by last October's USA Patriot Act. A
    provision of the law allows FBI agents to obtain a warrant from a secret
    court for library or bookstore records of anyone connected to an
    investigation of terrorism or spying.
    Unlike other search warrants, these warrants do not require the officer to
    show that evidence of
    wrongdoing is likely to be found or that the target of its investigation is
    involved in a crime.
    A librarian who is served with a warrant must surrender records of the
    patron's book borrowing or
    Internet use and is prohibited from revealing the search to anyone,
    including the patron. The Justice Department has refused to tell Congress
    how the law is being used, saying the information is classified.
    The American Library Association is critical of the new law and advises
    librarians not to keep any records they don't need. But its official
    position is that a librarian who receives a proper warrant has no choice
    but to comply.
    Horn disagrees.
    "They have (another) option, the option I took, to say this is not
    appropriate, this is not ethical in the library profession," she said. "It
    undermines the very essence of what a publicly supported library is."
    Horn is not alone. An editorial in the August issue of the American Library
    Association magazine, American Libraries, says that if the FBI abuses its
    new powers, "we will need librarians brave enough to speak out, even if it
    means going to jail."
    Krug, who held her current library association position when Horn was
    jailed, said she couldn't ethically recommend that a librarian defy the FBI
    "because I wouldn't be going to jail. They might."
    However, she said, "I suspect that one of these days we'll have someone
    else in jail."
    Horn left Russia with her family when she was 8 -- "maybe because I
    immigrated, I took very seriously what the Constitution said," she muses,
    and started working at libraries in 1942. In January 1971, she was the
    chief reference librarian at Bucknell University in sleepy Lewisburg, Pa.,
    when two FBI agents showed up unexpectedly at her home.
    They asked her to answer some questions and look at photos. When she
    refused, she was handed a grand jury subpoena.
    She quickly learned that another librarian and two aides had gotten similar
    visits from agents seeking evidence of a bizarre plot allegedly
    masterminded by the Rev. Philip Berrigan, a priest then held at the
    Lewisburg federal prison for destroying draft records.
    Prosecutors said Berrigan and six others, five of them current or former
    priests or nuns, were
    planning to blow up tunnels beneath Washington, D.C., and kidnap Henry
    Kissinger, President Richard Nixon's national security adviser, and hold
    him until U.S. bombing of Southeast Asia was halted.
    The main evidence came from a man named Boyd Douglas, Berrigan's fellow
    inmate, who had gotten a job pasting labels at the Bucknell library on a
    work- release program. During that stint, he befriended Horn.
    Horn, who opposed the war to the extent of refusing to pay a federal
    telephone tax that activists
    considered a war tax, recalled that Douglas had approached her and others
    with a phony story that he was in prison for anti- war activities. (He had
    actually been sentenced for forging checks.)
    Using his genuine contact with Berrigan to pose as a movement sympathizer,
    Douglas got Horn to host a meeting that included some of Berrigan's friends
    and offered to carry letters to the jailed priest, Horn said.
    Horn said she had never seen evidence that Douglas was keeping track of
    library users. However, she said, it comes down to the same thing:
    Government spies don't belong in libraries.
    "The very presence of an FBI informant sends chills down people's backs,"
    she said. "It means Big Brother is watching you."
    Prosecutors pressed Horn for information about meetings and relationships
    that would support Douglas' allegations of a plot.
    She testified to a grand jury in 1971 and said in her 1995 memoirs that she
    felt "nasty, ugly and alone, watching myself being turned into an informer
    on neighbors and friends."
    When the defendants, who became known as the Harrisburg Seven, went to
    trial in 1972, Horn decided she couldn't be a part of it. She refused to
    testify, was found in contempt and was led away in handcuffs as she started
    to read a statement about freedom of thought.
    "I was a bit scared . . . but I felt content," Horn said.
    Describing her previous anti-war activity as largely passive, she said,
    "Here I had been offered on a silver platter this opportunity to not say
    anything, and maybe it would make a difference. . . . I was acting as a
    citizen and as a librarian."
    She was sentenced for the duration of the trial, which was expected to last
    three months. But testimony ended abruptly in 20 days when the defense,
    after a cross-examination that brought out Douglas' criminal record and
    many contradictory statements, rested its case without calling any
    witnesses. The jury deadlocked on the conspiracy charges, which were then
    Before being freed, however, Horn, who turned 54 in the Dauphin County
    Jaill, earned that the American Library Association had declared it would
    not support her defiance, even though the previous year it had passed a
    resolution she had sponsored saying librarians should not act as informants.
    After her release, the association changed course again and commended her.
    She was later elected to a four-year term on its governing council.
    "I don't think we did our job for Zoia," said the association's Krug. She
    said library officials then
    were often unwilling to cast the government in a bad light.
    Before the trial, Horn had moved to California with her husband, librarian
    Dean Galloway, and gotten a job at the Stanislaus County library. She
    returned there after her release but quit in a few months, saying the
    atmosphere had changed, there was a chill in the air, and some younger
    staffers seemed in awe of her, which she found uncomfortable.
    She then held some part-time library jobs and worked for 15 years at the
    nonprofit Data Center in Oakland.
    But she said she couldn't get a top-level position at a public or college
    library and finally stopped applying.
    "I would be interviewed, they would tell me how much they respected me, but
    I would never get the job," she said.
    "She paid a heavy professional price," said a longtime friend Betty
    Medsger, former journalism chairwoman at San Francisco State University.
    "Because she was seen as controversial, I think they didn't want to touch
    Horn says she has no regrets. Honored for her contributions to freedom of
    information by the
    Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists as
    well as the American
    Library Association, she hasn't stopped lobbying her colleagues and their
    association to take bolder stands.
    It was easier for her to live up to her principles, she said, because "I
    wasn't going to go hungry. I was married to a librarian."
    Today's librarians need the assurance that their peers are behind them,
    Horn said, legally and financially as well as morally.
    "They should say, 'We stand by our librarians if they wish not to respond
    (to the FBI) because it is against our religion,' " she said. "All kinds of
    options are there for a librarian with a conscience."
    E-mail Bob Egelko at begelko@sfchronicle.com

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