VPR Story on Patriot Act

This morning Vermont Public Radio ran a story on the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, including the VLA Board’s resolution in support of Senator Leahy’s original markup of the bill and subsequent changes in the Judiciary Committee.  While the story provided good coverage of the issues, it incorrectly stated that the Board had withdrawn its support for Senator Leahy’s version of the bill.  Earlier today I sent the following message to VPR, and they assure me this will be corrected in later broadcasts and online:

As president of the Vermont Library Association, I am pleased to see that Gail Weymouth and Trina Magi from our Intellectual Freedom Committee are quoted extensively in your story on the reauthorization of the Patriot Act (http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/86172/).

However, please note that it is inaccurate to say that the Vermont Library Association “withdrew its support” from Senator Leahy’s version of the Patriot Act reauthorization bill as stated.  We officially endorsed his original markup, which would have moved to more strongly protect Americans’ civil liberties and the right to privacy.  It is true that we are disappointed that some of his original provisions were stripped or watered down in the version which emerged from the Judiciary Committee, and we did not endorse those changes.  However, we did not vote to withdraw our support for the changes to the original law that Senator Leahy proposed, many of which do remain in the bill.

The story correctly notes that we hope that amendments on the Senate floor will strengthen the protections for civil liberties in the bill, including restoring some of Senator Leahy’s original provisions.  We welcome any work by Senators Sanders and Leahy to introduce or support amendments that would more strongly protect these freedoms.

John K. Payne
President, Vermont Library Association