FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, JUNE 2, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
STATEMENT OF BARBARA COMSTOCK, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS,
ON DOJ TESTIMONY REGARDING LIBRARIES:
The New York Times inaccurately reported that Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh said FBI “agents have contacted about 50 libraries nationwide in the course of terrorism investigations” (Eric Lichtblau, “Justice Dept. Lists Use of New Power to Fight Terror,” May 21, 2003). The transcript of the hearing, below, makes clear that AAG Dinh was speaking of ordinary criminal cases rather than national security cases. Information on library contact in national security investigations is provided to Congress in a classified format, as was also noted in AAG Dinh’s testimony.
REP. CHABOT: Can you tell us how many times, if at all, library records have been accessed under the new FISA standards in the USA PATRIOT Act? And if they have been so accessed, have the requests been confined to the library records of a specified person?
AAG DINH: Mr. Chairman, Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, requires the Department of Justice to submit semi-annual reports to this committee and also to the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate counterparts on the number of times and the manner in which that section was used in total. We have made those reports. Unfortunately, because they occur in the context of national security investigation, that information is classified.
We have made, in light of the recent public information concerning visits to the library, we have conducted an informal survey of the field offices, relating to its visits to libraries. And I think the results from this informal survey is that libraries have been contacted approximately 50 times, based on articulatable suspicion or voluntary calls from libraries regarding suspicious activities. Most, if not all of these contacts that we have identified were made in the context of a criminal investigation and pursuant to voluntary disclosure or a grand jury subpoena, in that context.
(Transcript, House Subcommittee on the Constitution, May 20, 2003)