Saturday, July 24, 2004

UPDATE on Document Destruction

More on the DOJ's order to destroy forfeiture documents -- paid for with your tax dollars by the way, (both the publishing and the impending destruction). It appears the memo we published last night was indeed real as the Boston Globe picked up the story this morning.

The American Library Association, taken off-guard by this unprecedented request, has vowed to, "challenge the order as an infringement on a century-old guarantee of public access to unclassified documents that the government publishes each year."

The pamphlets, dated from 2000-2004, which the DOJ say were intended for "internal use only" have been available to the public for four years. They reportedly contain, "detailed legal research on asset forfeiture law, including statutes and case histories on the legal means of seizing cash, cars, houses, boats, and other property of convicted drug dealers and other criminals."

Patrice McDermott of the ALA notes the Association will press the DOJ on the issue saying, "We just don't know the rationale for this."

Bernard A. Margolis, president of the Boston Public Library has even stronger words.

"There is a precedent danger that if a handful of documents that appear innocuous -- the forfeiture statutes -- if these become subject to a casual or cavalier yanking, then what is next? Maybe it's things that are really critical and primary to people's livelihood, to their safety, or to their health."...

"I think at a minimum we are entitled to know the process, how these determinations are made, and whether excluding something is truly in the public interest," he said. "The public should get its day in court."

We agree.


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