“Under the Patriot Act, the FBI doesn’t have to demonstrate ‘probable cause’ of criminal activity to request records. In fact, the so-called ‘search warrant’ is issued by a secret court. Once granted, it entitles the FBI to procure any library records pertaining to book circulation, Internet use or patron registration. Librarians can even be compelled to cooperate with the FBI in monitoring Internet usage.
This sort of secrecy is not only chilling, it is ripe for potential abuse. A similar Cold War version of library monitoring was called the Library Awareness Program, through which FBI agents specifically targeted Soviet and Eastern European nationals. The American Library Association effectively fought the LAP then, and is now standing up to the Patriot Act searches.”