The Justice Department doesn’t want you to read.

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2004

Does this seem right to you? My sister sent this along, from the American Library Association via BuzzFlash:

Last week, the American Library Association learned that the Department of Justice asked the Government Printing Office Superintendent of Documents to instruct depository libraries to destroy five publications the Department has deemed not “appropriate for external use.” The Department of Justice has called for these five these public documents, two of which are texts of federal statutes, to be removed from depository libraries and destroyed, making their content available only to those with access to a law office or law library.

The topics addressed in the named documents include information on how citizens can retrieve items that may have been confiscated by the government during an investigation. The documents to be removed and destroyed include: Civil and Criminal Forfeiture Procedure; Select Criminal Forfeiture Forms; Select Federal Asset Forfeiture Statutes; Asset forfeiture and money laundering resource directory; and Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA).

ALA has submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the withdrawn materials in order to obtain an official response from the Department of Justice regarding this unusual action, and why the Department has requested that documents that have been available to the public for as long as four years be removed from depository library
collections. ALA is committed to ensuring that public documents remain available to the public and will do its best to bring about a satisfactory resolution of this matter.

Librarians should note that, according to policy 72, written authorization from the Superintendent of Documents is required to remove any documents. To this date no such written authorization in hard copy has been issued.

I did a Google news check, and then wrote her back to say that it looks like the DOJ reversed its policy…but the point remains, that the ONLY hits that came up on this story out here in the land of Google (vs. lexisNexus) was from the Boston Globe reporting it–and then reporting the reversal.

Two hits. Did CNN report it? How many, if ANY broadcast outlets?

Yeah, it’s not as compelling as, say, a murder in Utah, or how big a bounce Kerry really got, but it is, after all how our civil liberties erode…one tiny bit at a time–and that’s a story that’s really really difficult to cover.