---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 17:04:19 -0700
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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
"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
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.
"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 email@example.com
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Thu Sep 19 2002 - 23:16:00 EDT