Library Juice 7:14 - July 2, 2004
2. "Information Commons" - a note on the conflation of meanings
3. Councilor Jim Casey's notes on the ALA conference in Orlando
4. Resolution Against the Use of Torture adopted at ALA Conference
5. Cuba and the Myth of the Independent Libraries
Quote for the week:
"The fetters imposed on liberty at home have ever been forged out of the
weapons provided for defence against real, pretended, or imaginary dangers
-James Madison, 4th US president (1751-1836)
Homepage of the week: Robin Kear
New on the Library Juice Website
Selections from Library Juice - the "Best Of" list
International Librarianship: Getting There from Here
by Robin Kear
[ from Priscilla Schontz to undisclosed recipients ]'
ALA and Others Oppose the Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Tools Improvement
Act of 2003
[ sent by Don Wood to Member Forum ]
Librarian's stand against federal law
By Humphrey Hawksley
BBC correspondent in Washington
[ sent by Shiraz Durrani to the PLG list ]
COPA struck down
[ sent by Don Wood to member forum ]
Social Forum of Information, Documentation and Libraries
This August, Buenos Aires, Argentina
[ sent by Martin Vera to the PLG list ]
As We May Think [The Atlantic Monthly]
Vanvar Bush's prescient, technocratic statement from July, 1945
[ Library Link of the Day ]
Two library labor movements:
http://windchimewalker.blogspot.com/ (scroll though page - it's a blog)
[ sent by Deborah Richards to the Progressive Archivists list ]
Haiku/Senru based upon the writings of Don Saklad
[ found on librarian.net ]
2. "Information Commons" - a note on the conflation of meanings
"Information Commons" has become a buzzword in the library community.
Actually, it's two buzzwords, which can create some confusion.
In the first place, it refers to that universe of information that is held
by a people or by humanity in common, similarly to the way we all own
collectively the air and sunlight, and in previous times, land and fresh
water. The information commons includes such things as creative works that
are in the public domain and most facts. (Trade secrets and, in a sense,
personal secrets and classified information are the exceptions to facts
being part of the information commons.) The information commons is a hot
buzzword because it offers a truer way of conceiving of changes to
information policy than via the intellectual frame of private property and
theft. (The extension of the term of copyright, for example, or the
expansion of patent law to include the genetic code, constitute a closing
down of the information commons by private interests, similarly to the way
land was divided up into private property in past centuries.)
That is the sense in which the phrase "information commons" is most
commonly used in theoretical discussions. In this sense it has a morally
charged, purposive meaning that is connected to an ethically-inspired
political movement toward information policy reform. But the phrase has a
second common meaning, which I am afraid sometimes borrows from the moral
capital of the first meaning among unwitting audiences. The second meaning
refers to an area of a library with many computers for the public to use to
access the internet and work with a variety of software. The information
commons, in this sense, represents the extension of libraries into a new
role, due to the versatility of the computer. While much of the use of the
computers in an information commons fits within the mission of libraries in
terms of providing access to good information and the best of cultural
expression, the uses of the computer are unlimited, and so will be the uses
to which they are put in a library. No matter how broad the library's
mission, the computers in an "information commons" are going to be used for
purposes outside that mission, at least from time to time. This is state of
affairs that at present librarians tolerate, occasionally wondering if the
arrangement is working optimally, especially as computer users are more
likely to bypass the reference librarians' consulting services.
It concerns me that the idea of devoting more and more library space to
free-use computers is questionable in terms of the mission of the library,
especially considering what has to be sacrificed to provide this access and
where the trend might be headed. If people are unwittingly drawing down
the sense of moral virtue from "information commons" in the first sense and
applying it to "information commons" in the second sense, a correction in
thinking is needed. Unfortunately, it is a correction that is difficult to
make among members of my generation, who very often see new technology in a
sacred light, as though technical innovation by itself is the path to
solving the problems of access and truly fulfilling our mission. This way
of thinking is in reality just a cheap, thoughtless way of asserting the
dominion of the next generation in the field of librarianship. We should
have more to offer in terms of fresh thinking than a love of new
technology, especially when advancing the interests of technologists can,
if we are not careful, mean the deprofessionalization of our own field and
a loss of ground in the fight to protect the information commons of the
3. Councilor Jim Casey's notes on the ALA conference in Orlando
AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION ANNUAL CONFERENCE - Orlando -
June 24-30, 2004. Notes by James B. Casey
This Annual Conference was held in a culturally barren "theme park" area
of suburban Orlando during a time when afternoon temperatures sometimes
soared to over 100 degrees. Hotels were far apart, mass transit was
limited to several overcrowded "trolley busses" and the attendance
seemed to be somewhat lagging. As of Wednesday, June 30, 2004, the
attendance stood at 19,731. Atlanta in 2002 was at 21,130 and San
Francisco in 2001 was (according to the person who was ALA President at
the time) about 26,000.
(Toronto attendance, which had been ravaged by the SARS scare was at
17,482.) Orlando reminded some regular ALA Conference goers of the
unfortunate Miami ALA Annual of 1994. I heard no favorable comments
about the Orlando site for Annual (Summer), but many who regretted the
apparent elimination of San Francisco from the list of regular sites.
Midwinter sites from 2005 to 2010 are Boston, San Antonio, Seattle,
Philadelphia, Denver and Boston. Annual sites from 2005 to 2010 are
Chicago, New Orleans, Washington, Anaheim, Chicago and Orlando.
Aside from these difficulties involved with the site, Oak Lawn Public
Library Trustees Shirley Barrett, Marian Sullivan and Suzanne Marzano
enjoyed productive sessions involving Association for Library Trustees
and Advocates (ALTA) committees,
my wife Diane Dates Casey continued her important role as Cataloging and
Classification Section (CCS) Liaison to Association for Library
Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) Planning Committee and I
completed my second term (and seventh year) as a Member of ALA Council.
My year as Chair of the Resolutions Committee of Council (2004-05) began
at the end of this Conference.
RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE: On Friday, I served my shift at the Resolutions
Table at the ALA Office with Councilor Thaddeus Bejnar. We were able to
approve six Resolutions which had been transmitted via E-Mail and one
Memorial Resolution for inclusion in the Council Agenda.
ALA WASHINGTON OFFICE REPORTS: Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona,
elected in 2002) spoke about the important legislative issues facing
libraries from the congressional vantage point. His wife and daughter
are librarians and therefore not surprising that he has been among the
strongest advocates for LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act)
funding. Grijalva declared that Libraries represent a "great equalizer"
empowering people with access to information. He criticized the waste of
resources in the Iraq war as well as the huge deficits and pointed to
the President's "no child left behind" program as "no child left
untested". He also indicated that he will push for the earliest possible
"sunset" for the Patriot Act. ---- Professor John Verteill
(sp?) spoke about efforts underway to study the impact of the Patriot
Act upon libraries across the country. He intends to conduct studies of
public and academic libraries with an eye to discovering actual costs in
terms of staff time and public service "fallout". Funding for this ALA
Washington Office (ALAWO) report will come from the Carnegie Foundation
as well as via proceeds from the showing of Fahrenheit 911 at ALA Annual.
LEGISLATION under discussion included the SAFE (Security and Freedom
Ensured) Act (S 1709) amends section 215 of the Patriot Act to require
that the FBI specify which records are sought and articulate specific
facts to the Court why they have reason to believe that the person whose
records are sought fall into the definition of "terrorist". The sponsors
are Senators Craig (R-Idaho) and Durbin (D-Illinois). We are asked to
seek co-sponsors to support this SAFE Act and the House version (H.R.
3352) as well as the Freedom to Read Act (H.R. 1157 - Sponsor Rep.
Bernie Sanders I-Vt. ----- On the negative side was the "Anti-Terrorism
Intelligence Tools Improvement Act of 2003" (H.R. 3179) sponsored by
Senators Sensenbrenner and Goss which would enable the FBI to demand
compliance with administrative subpoenas as well as impose a 1 year
prison term (which could not be appealed) for violations of the Patriot
Act gag order. Bi-partisan opposition to this bill is being mounted.
OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS breakout session was conducted by ALAWO
Lynne Bradley. A Bush appointee, Beth Fitzsimmons, gave a brief
discussion of the Administration's effort to develop a "Report Card on
American Libraries" and pointed to the fact that the Bush Administration
has been among the strongest in terms of pushing for LSTA funding. When
asked about the Patriot Act, Beth cited that the rules weren't directed
in a negative way against libraries and indicated that Michelle Ridge
(the wife of Tom Ridge) was once a Librarian. Joshua Farrelman, the
newest employee of the ALAWO and former congressional aide, reported on
the appropriations process and indicated that news about funding levels
should come out soon since Congresspersons are anxious to leave
Washington to campaign in the upcoming election.
COPYRIGHT legislation and issues were discussed by Miriam Nisbet. She
indicate that the DMCRA (Digital Consumer Media Rights Act, H.R. 107 -
sponsored by Reps. Boucher D-VA and Doolittle R-CA) seeks to reaffirm
fair use in the digital environment and currently has 14 co-sponsors. It
seeks to make key changes to the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)
of 1998 and is opposed very strongly by interests from the entertainment
industry. "H.R. 107 would make it possible to break a technological lock
that controls access to and use of a copyrighted work if doing so does
not result in any infringement of the work?..". Miriam indicates that
H.R. 107 needs additional co-sponsors and support. ---- A newly proposed
Database Protection Law (H.R. 3261) and an alternate, more narrowly
focused alternate (H.R. 3872) are also dangerous. Pressed forward by
publisher Elsevier, this bill would give "property like" protection to
facts. It threatens to change current law that holds factual information
belongs in the public domain and is not entitled to copyright
protection. "While libraries are not opposed to the effort to deal with
legitimate concerns about copyright infringement, they do not favor the
current trend toward further criminalizing copyright law. Libraries
support enforcing existing laws that have clear standards for
infringement and oppose adding broad criminal provisions with vaguely
defined standards." One brand new bill introduced by Senator Orin Hatch
in June 2004 is called the Induce Act. It seeks to amend copyright law
to lay criminal charges even on those who can be proven to have
"induced" someone to infringe copyright law. This was not yet on the
ALAWO site, but it is probable that ALA elect to oppose this
legislation. ---- Another bill introduced early in 2004 called the "Who
Is" bill (H.R. 3754) seeks to add penalties to persons who provide
misinformation in order to obtain a domain name.
WALKING THE HIGHWIRE: EXPLORING THE TENSION BETWEEN INTELLECTUAL
FREEDOM, PRIVACY AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. This program featured a
panel of experts to discuss the tensions between restrictions on speech
and the importance of sharing ideas. One spokesperson for a publisher
cited instances of media consolidation and threats to intellectual
freedom posed by corporate giants seeking mainstream profit while
ignoring or stifling alternative viewpoints. Nancy Kranich (former ALA
President) indicated that copyright issues were among the most heavily
discussed at this Annual.
MEMBERSHIP I - June 26. There were some 150 persons present and not
enough to establish a quorum (282). The topic of discussion was "ALA and
Social Activism: Where do we Draw the Line?" John Berry of LJ spoke in
favor of broader social involvement and ALA Executive Board Member Jim
Rettig presented the case for focusing on Library and Library related
issues. Two dozen speakers came forward on the floor of Council Hall to
share their views.
COUNCIL I: The first Council Session was largely informational and did
not delve into controversial resolutions. However, there were several
interesting reports indicating that both the ALA and APA are running
into difficulty balancing their respective budgets. In a report of the
Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) it was admitted that: "We
have depleted virtually all of our net asset balance, which we had
systematically and carefully built to $1.7 million a few years ago."
BARC has recommended increasing the annual conference registration
charge beginning with the conference in Chicago in 2005 and an increase
in membership dues. Membership Committee is being asked to develop a
proposal for such an increase. At this point in the Conference, specific
figures had not yet been presented relative to the increase amounts.
---- Gordon Conable gave an excellent report on efforts of the Freedom
to Read Foundation to challenge Patriot Act and other infringements of
intellectual freedom and privacy rights via court action.
STAND UP AND SPEAK OUT FOR LIBRARIES. Carol Brey-Casiano will become ALA
President on June 30, 2004. She led an "Open Working Session" for those
persons wishing to give input on various objectives for her one year
term as President. Among the discussion areas were Advocacy,
Literacy/Equity of Access, Salaries and Recruitment, Diversity,
International Relations and Intellectual Freedom/Building Community.
Carol had been director of Oak Park Public Library from 1991 to 1995 and
since then has been director at Los Cruces, New Mexico and (currently)
El Paso, Texas. Carol is an energetic, articulate person who is also
fluent in Spanish. Her term should be exciting. Michael Gorman becomes
President-Elect on June 30, 2004 and will serve his term as President
EQUITY: ARE WE THERE YET? President Carla Hayden's President's Program
was a panel discussion recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Brown
versus Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision of 1954. That
landmark decision overturned the Plessy versus Ferguson decision of 1896
that "separate, but equal" was satisfactory under the law. Integration
and the Civil Rights Movement began with that decision. Panel
participants included Pulitzer Prize winning author Taylor Branch,
Cheryl Brown Henderson, one of three daughters of Rev. Oliver Brown, Dr.
E. J. Josey, eminent ALA Member and Past President of ALA, and Ray
Suarez, senior correspondent for the PBS Lehrer News Hour. Branch
highlighted how effective and far reaching the Civil Rights movement was
and that much of the actual progress occurred via momentum long after
the assassination of Dr. King in April 1968. He made the interesting
point that "non violence is frequently under estimated and violence is
over estimated in its ability to win freedom" and that we are "ignoring
history" in relying on military action to deliver freedom. (An obvious
reference to the "liberation" of Iraq.) Henderson, Josey and Suarez also
spoke well, but the program was ended suddenly by a fire alarm which
forced the evacuation of the auditorium.
FAHRENHEIT 911: ALA Council Members Mitch Freedman and Anne Sparanese
joined forces to obtain a copy of Fahrenheit 911 to show at the
Conference. Tickets were sold at $10 each with proceeds going to the
legal and legislative challenges ALA is putting forward against the
Patriot Act. A large number of Conference attendees stood in line to buy
the tickets and attended the late night showing (10 PM to Midnight on
Sunday) of that controversial film by Michael Moore. Anne Sparanese was
instrumental in rousing Librarians to Michael Moore's defense when his
book Stupid White Men was in danger of being withdrawn by the publisher
due to unkind statements made about President Bush following 911. The
Librarian uproar forced the publisher to release the book. --- The
actual showing of Fahrenheit 911 at ALA Annual occurred after 10 PM on
the evening of Sunday, June 27. Despite the late hour, lines at the
auditorium were very long and the capacity of 2,300 was nearly
exhausted. The film itself consumed the rapt attention of the entire
audience for two hours. An unabashedly anti-war, anti-Bush documentary,
it was also conjured up emotions ranging from laughter to tears to
bitter anger. Rarely have I seen a movie (especially a documentary)
which exceeded the massive hype as this one has done.
FROM MANY VOICES TO FEW: MEDIA CONSOLIDATION AND INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM.
This session included presentations by Lucy Dalglish, J.D., and Dr. Mark
Cooper concerning the growing trend towards consolidation of large
numbers of independent media outlets (particularly print, radio and tv)
under giant corporations. Dalglish indicates that the real danger is
where news divisions refuse to challenge authority in pursuit of
corporation objectives and the overall limitation in the diversity of
programming. She maintains that the media itself has been less of a
problem than government since 9/11. The withholding of government
information has become widespread. Dr. Mark Cooper described the failed
(so far) efforts of FCC Chair Powell to allow corporations to limit
themselves when it comes to creation of monopolistic control over media.
The Courts have frustrated his efforts to allow for greater media
consolidation. Dr. Cooper indicated that media was very "pro war" in the
period leading up to the invasion of Iraq and that media attempted to
"manufacture consent and quiet dissent".
OCLC PRESIDENT'S LUNCHEON: This superb luncheon feature discussion of
OCLC's progress during the past year and President Jay Jordan presented
very impressive figures relative to the acceptance of WORLDCAT by the
EXHIBITS: Diane and I toured the exhibits briefly and examined RFID
(Radio Frequency Identification) products. Bibliotheca RFID Library
Systems presented a comprehensive Bibliochip RFID Library System
involving self checkout and return. Many persons in ALA have felt that
the RFID system which copies the patron's name and titles checked out
onto tiny microchips could give government officials greater ability to
monitor the reading habits of citizens. RFID has been used to improve
the efficiency of circulation and has become accepted as "cutting edge"
technology which probably won't "go away". http://www.bibliotheca-rfid.com
COUNCIL FORUM I (Monday evening, 8-9:30 PM): About 50 Councilors met to
discuss several of the resolutions expected to come before Council II
and III. Resolutions which drew the most heated discussion included:
"Resolution Against the Use of Torture as a Violation of Our Basic
Values as Librarians" and "Resolution on the Occupation of Iraq". More
generally accepted and supported were: "Resolution on Health Care" (to
have ALA join with dozens of other organizations pushing for the passage
of House Concurrent Resolution 99 [H. Con. Res. 99] and Senate
Concurrent Resolution 41 [S. Con. Res. 41] directing Congress to enact
legislation by October 2005 that provides access to comprehensive health
care for all Americans.), "Resolution on Privacy and Library Use" and
"Resolution on Accessible Voting and other Information Technology".
COUNCIL II: The longest and most involved discussions during this
session involved the acceptance of the work of a "Core Values II Task
Force" and "Task Force on Library School Closings". The terse list of
terms and pre-digested definitions provided by the Core Values II Task
Force was finally accepted and the Task Force was dismissed despite some
misgivings several persons who may have been expecting a more involved
set of statements and a battle similar to that which consumed the Annual
in 2000. Michael Gorman, the brave soul who chaired the original Core
Values effort in 2000 and incoming President-Elect of ALA, did not speak
in opposition to this version. I doubt that we will hear much about Core
Values again (famous last words). The Library School Closings discussion
focused on the impending closure of the Clark Atlanta University School
of Library and Information Studies.
http://www.bcala.org/announcements/announce_archive.htm Clark was the
premier Library Science program serving African Americans and faces
closure on July 15 due to fiscal difficulties. Members of Council voted
to push for studies on how to prevent future Library School closings. --
Also of interest in this session was the report on ALA's budget by
Treasurer Teri R. Switzer. While the financial picture is presented as
sound, it was clear that a current deficit of $1.2 million may cause an
increase to members of both dues and conference registration (starting
with Chicago in 2005). Also subject of concern was a plan for purchase
of a site near DuPont Circle for the ALA Washington Office. While owning
a site would build equity for the Association, it was noted that the
DuPont Circle site (costing $4 million) is much farther distant from
Capital Hill than the present, rented location. Councilors were also
upset that the ALA Handbook would no longer be provided free to Members.
Executive Director Keith Fiels noted that printing the book annually
cost some $50,000 and that the information was already available on the
ALA website. Councilors complained that Member dues already cost several
hundred dollars per year and should entitle one to receive the basic
organization manual of the Association in printed form and able to be
read without the aid of a laptop or PC.
COUNCIL III: This final session of Council went on from 8 AM to 12:40 PM
and, as usual, failed to complete the agenda. Only 3 of 9 resolutions
which had been presented were actually voted upon and only 2 of the 3
passed. Resolutions on Torture and Accessible Voting passed while the
Resolution on Occupation of Iraq (calling for a pull out) failed as an
issue irrelevant to Library service despite the overwhelming opposition
to the war by ALA Members present. Also unusual was the fact that my
vote was on the prevailing side on these three resolutions. The
Committee on Legislation had several excellent resolutions calling for a
reduction in government secrecy and broader access to government
information. There were numerous other reports --- Intellectual Freedom
Committee, International Relations Committee, Committee on Organization
--- but the longest discussions concerned Cuba (again) and the
International Relations Committee (IRC) Chair was chided for sending a
draft letter in response to a communication from Cuban Librarians to the
Executive Board for review. Some members of Council felt that such a
letter should have been cleared by the IRC or by Council as a whole
before even being presented in draft form. Another relatively dull, time
wasting discussion involved the lowering of the quorum for Membership
Meetings to 75 Members. If a Membership gathering at the annual
Membership Meeting has the 75 in attendance, it can pass and submit
resolutions to Council. The quorum was lowered to 75 by a vote of 70 to
68. Although doubtful as to the wisdom of lowing the quorum from 282
down to 75, I was tempted to vote "yes" on this in order to give the
experiment a chance.
CONCLUSION: Whatever the deficiencies of Orlando as a site for a Summer
Conference, the Council deliberations and work of various committees -
particularly the Committee on Legislation - were extremely useful. It
was regrettable to see the Council drift back into the mode of leaving
much of the agenda undone on the conclusion of the conference.
As Chair of the Resolutions Committee from now through the end of
business at Chicago ALA in June 2005, I shall endeavor to make sure that
resolutions are crafted and completed in terms of form and intent before
we arrive at Mid Winter and Annual. The Council List and E-Mail are
available to help councilors compare notes and test ideas. I I hope that
advance work and deliberation will help us to be more efficient in our
use of time on the floor of Council.
The financial difficulties faced by ALA and the seemingly impossible
fiscal position of APA will probably be addressed in one form or other
very soon. A dues increase and attendance registration cost increase may
be imminent for ALA. Many of us believe that APA will not be fiscally
sustainable past 2005. (I hope that I am wrong on both counts, but doubt
it.) Given that much of ALA's revenue is derived from Conference
attendance, it puzzles some of us that the Executive Board and Staff
persist in having Conferences in tropical theme parks like Orlando and
Anaheim in the midst of Summer and in the potentially snowy sites like
Boston and Philadelphia in the midst of Winter. San Francisco had been
one of the best "draws" of any of the sites and was eliminated
(according to one highly placed source) due to anger by ALA Executive
Board and Staff at labor difficulties which emerged in the 2001 Annual
Conference. New York City was also eliminated due to reported labor
problems. San Diego is another pleasant site which has been eliminated
from the list. I tend to think that the majority of ALA Members who
might be inclined to attend an Annual Conference (those beyond puberty)
would be more interested in the attractions of Fisherman's Wharf or
Times Square than Disney World or some other theme park.
My sincerest thanks go to the Oak Lawn Public Library, the Board and
Taxpayers for supporting my participation in ALA.
James B. Casey, June 30, 2004.
4. Resolution Against the Use of Torture adopted at ALA Conference
The ALA Council adopts the
RESOLUTION AGAINST THE USE OF TORTURE AS A VIOLATION OF THE AMERICAN LIBRARY
ASSOCIATION'S BASIC VALUES
June 30, 2004
Whereas ALA is among the preeminent defenders of intellectual freedom and
government openness in the US.
Whereas intellectual freedom, our primary value as librarians, cannot be
more seriously violated than by forcing speech or enforcing silence through
systematic violence by government against detained individuals.
Whereas the US government has proven its readiness to use torture (as well
as hooding, shackling, drugging, sleep deprivation, etc.) in the
interrogation of suspected terrorists or their suspected accomplices in its
Whereas the use of torture and coercive interrogative practices is inhumane,
illegal and destructive of the democratic sensibilities of a free
society, the cultivation of which we as an Association and as a profession
Whereas the secrecy which attends the use of torture violates our commitment
to open government and the necessity of true and accurate information of
our government's actions
Whereas the violence of torture violates our commitment to the rule of law
as a protector of the integrity and dignity of the human person
Whereas the barbarity of torture fundamentally violates our commitment to
the preservation of the human spirit
Whereas the threat of torture of the use of torture and similar practices of
coercing testimony, confessions, information is, universally condemned
under international law [e.g the Geneva Convention, Articles 3 and 31 and
by the Univeral Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Article 5 ] and (a)the
Fourth Amendment's right to be free of unreasonable search or seizure
(which encompasses the right not be abused by the police) (b)the Fifth
Amendment's right against self-incrimination (which encompasses the right
to remain silent during interrogations), (c)the Fifth and the Fourteenth
Amendments' guarantees of due process (ensuring fundamental fairness in
criminal justice system), and (d)the Eighth Amendment's right to be free of
cruel or unusual punishment],
Be it resolved that the ALA condemns the use or threat of torture by the US
government as a barbarous violation of human rights, intellectual freedom,
and the rule of law. TheALA decries--along with condemnation of the
practice of torture anywhere--the suggestion by the US government that
under a 'state of emergency' in this country or declared by this country
torture is an acceptable tool in pursuit of its goals.
submitted by Mark C. Rosenzweig, ALA Councilor at large
second Al Kagan, SRRT Councilor
The legal basis for this follows, including some explication of issues
raised by these references: ,
*Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, Article 5 states: "No one
shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
*Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
(ICCPR), ratified by 153 countries, including the U.S. in 1992
*Convention against Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
or Punishment (the Convention against Torture), ratified by 136 countries,
including the U.S. in 1994.
*European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.
*American Convention on Human Rights [Signed at the Inter-American
Specialized Conference on Human Rights, San JosÈ, Costa Rica, 22 November
*The 'Laws of War': the prohibition against torture is also fundamental to
international humanitarian law which governs the conduct of parties during
Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions, for example, bans "violence of life
and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment
and torture" as well as "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular
humiliating and degrading treatment."
Article 31 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: "No physical or moral coercion
shall be exercised against protected persons, in particular to obtain
information from them or from third parties."
1999 Initial Report of the United States to the U.N. Committee against
Torture: in the United States, the use of torture "is categorically
denounced as a matter of policy and as a tool of state authority
No official of the government, federal, state or local, civilian or
military, is authorized to commit or to instruct anyone else to commit
torture. Nor may any official condone or tolerate torture in any form
Every act of torture [...]" is illegal under the [Convention against
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, G.A.
res. 39/46, [annex, 39 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 51) at 197, U.N. Doc. A/39/51
(1984)], entered into force June 26, 1987]. is illegal under existing
federal and state law, and any individual who commits such an act is
subject to penal sanctions as specified in criminal statutes."
*The US Constitution: Torture violates rights established by the Bill of
The U.S. courts have located constitutional protections against
interrogations under torture in
a)the Fourth Amendment's right to be free of unreasonable search or
seizure (which encompasses the right not be abused by the police)
b)the Fifth Amendment's right against self-incrimination (which
encompasses the right to remain silent during interrogations),
c)the Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendments' guarantees of due process
(ensuring fundamental fairness in criminal justice system), and
d)the Eighth Amendment's right to be free of cruel or unusual punishment.
*In numerous cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has condemned the use of force
amounting to torture or other forms of ill treatment during interrogations,
including such practices as whipping, slapping, depriving a victim of food,
water, or sleep, keeping him naked or in a small cell for prolonged
periods, holding a gun to his head, or threatening him with mob violence.
*"Miranda v Arizona: The U.S. Supreme Court in 1966 also established a
rule requiring the police who seek to question detainees to inform them of
their "Miranda" rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present
during the questioning [Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)].
In explaining the need for this rule, the Court noted the continuing
police practice of using physical force to extract confessions, citing, as
an example, a case in which police beat, kicked and burned with lighted
cigarette butts a potential witness under interrogation.
*Torture would also violate state constitutions, whose provisions
generally parallel the protections set forth in the federal Bill of Rights.
Article 4 of the Convention against Torture obligates state parties to
ensure that all acts of torture are criminal offenses under domestic
*The principal federal law that would apply to torture against detainees
is 18 U.S.C. 242, which makes it a criminal offense for any public official
to willfully to deprive a person of any right protected by the Constitution
or laws of the United States.
*Neither international nor domestic law conditions the right not to be
subjected to torture on citizenship or nationality. No detainee held by
U.S. authorities - regardless of nationality, regardless of whether held in
the U.S. or in another country, and regardless of whether the person is
deemed a combatant or civilian - may be tortured. All applicable
international law applies to U.S. officials operating abroad, including the
Convention against Torture and the Geneva Conventions.
Some explication relevant to the particular questions raised by the
government's consideration of the use of torture in its "War Against
1)The prohibition against torture is universal and covers all countries
both regarding U.S. citizens and persons of other nationalities.
2)The Convention against Torture provides that any statement that has been
made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any
proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that
the statement was made.
3)Under customary international law as well as under international human
rights treaties, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is
prohibited at all times and in all circumstances. It is a non-derogable
right, one of those core rights that may never be suspended, even during
times of war, when national security is threatened, or during other public
4)According to the U.S. government, " U.S. law contains no provision
permitting otherwise prohibited acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment to be employed on grounds of exigent
circumstances (for example, during a "state of public emergency") or on
orders from a superior officer or public authority."
5)The European Court of Human Rights has applied the prohibition against
torture contained in European Convention on Human Rights in several cases
involving alleged terrorists. As it noted in one case, "The Court is well
aware of the immense difficulties faced by States in modern times in
protecting their communities from terrorist violence. However, even in
these circumstances, the Convention prohibits in absolute terms torture or
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, irrespective of the victim's
conduct." (Chahal v. United Kingdom, Nov. 15, 1996)
6)The Committee against Torture, reviewing Israel's use of torture as a
method of interrogation against suspected Palestinian terrorists, stated,
"The Committee acknowledges the terrible dilemma that Israel confronts in
dealing with terrorist threats to its security, but as a State party to the
Convention Israel is precluded from raising before this Committee
exceptional circumstances as justification for [prohibited] acts" [United
Nations Committee against Torture. "Concluding observations of the
Committee against Torture" (1997), A/52/44,paras.253-260. (15 Nov. 2001).]
Some people argue that the goal of saving innocent lives must override a
person's right not to be tortured. Although such an exception might appear
to be highly limited, experience shows that the exception readily becomes
the standard practice. For example, how imminent must the attack be to
trigger the exception and justify torture - an hour, a week, a year? How
certain must the government be that the detainee actually has the necessary
The international community, however, rejected the use of torture even in
this type of case. International human rights law - as well as U.S. law -
do not contain any exceptions to the prohibition against torture.
ALA Councilor at large
5. Cuba and the Myth of the Independent Libraries
At the conference in Orlando, it was clear that the issue of Cuba and the
"independent libraries movement" is far from dead, and the Cuban expat
community and its sympathizers will not be satisfied with anything short
of ALA's outright condemnation of the Cuban Government in the strongest
terms. International Relations Committee chair John W. Berry did an
end-run around the committee by inserting into the IRC report his own
drafts of sympathetic letters in response to that community's appeals to
condemn Cuba - drafts which the committee never saw. This created quite
a scene at the Council meeting. Berry promised that he had heard the
body's concerns but was ultimately let off the hook; the sympathetic
letters stayed in the report, putting the committee on record with a much
more anti-Cuba position than it actually has.
Further, the "independent libraries movement" was represented in the
exhibits hall at an expensively furnished booth staffed by men in expensive
gray suits, with slick, expensively-produced literature to pass out. The
idea that the "independent librarians" are a grass-roots movement was
clearly belied by their tony exhibits hall presence at this conference.
As long as this issue is going to be kept alive by the Cuban expatriat
community and its brothers in arms, those lacking an ideological animus
against Cuba will respond. It's in the interest of helping with this
response that I'm publishing the following English translation of an
article on the situation from the Spanish publication Rebelión, translated
into English by Dana Lubow.
- Rory Litwin
May 19, 2004
CUBA AND THE MYTH OF THE INDEPENDENT LIBRARIES
Translated into English by Dana Lubow
According to its strategy of destabilization of Cuban society, the United
States, in addition to financing and directing "independent journalists",
and "human rights members" has created "independent libraries"(1). The main
role of those organizations consists of carrying out a job of disinformation
in the heart of the country, and in creating favorable conditions for
weakening the country, which is already in an extremely hostile geopolitical
context. Those different splinter groups are shown in the international
press as the nucleus of the future "civil and democratic society." The
information transnationals still don't deign to give attention to the facts,
however easily accessible and verifiable, preferring to talk about internal
Created in 1998 by Mr. Ramón Humberto Colás Castillo according to the
leadership of the United States Interest Section (SINA) in Havana, it
thought that the "independent libraries" would give the illusion of a
growing opposition against the Cuban government. The birth of those entities
fits directly in the political maneuvering of the United States which
consists of manipulating the reality of the island."(2) Indeed, those
libraries should officially allow Cubans to have access to real independent
information, but in reality they were propaganda groups at Washington's
Among the works provided by the Interests Section to those "librarians",
reports were found written by the United States Department of State that
supported the matter of human rights violations in Cuba, President Bush's
speeches, as well as writings dealing with the functioning of American
society. The Miami Herald and The Nuevo Herald newspapers considerably
influenced by the extreme right Cuban exile community, also supplied the
"librarians", as well as the literature produced by Florida's fascist
constituents. They were in permanent contact with Mr. James Cason, head of
the United States Interests Section in Cuba, and applied its guidelines in
exchange for financial payment.(3) Mr. Cason arrived in Havana in September,
2002, was distinguished by his provocateur attitude, his interventionist
statements and his public meetings with the "Cuban dissidence." (4)
The odd result was that none of the international press had raised logical
questions. Independent libraries in Cuba? Perhaps Cubans don't have access
to books? Let's leave ideological prejudices behind and use numbers.
In Cuba, close to 400 public libraries, not including those found in almost
every school and university, offer completely free services. Before the
Revolution, there were no more than thirty-two. (5) In 2003, more than 2,000
titles, for a print run of 30 million copies, were published. Every year,
the most important cultural event in the Latin American hemisphere is the
Cuban International Book Fair, which brings together the most famous writers
of the world. In 2004, the Fair reached more than 34 cities, presented more
than 1000 titles and sold more than 5 million works at prices incomparably
lower than those of any other country in the world. Additionally, not one
country of the Third World has created as many public libraries as Cuba. (6)
Illiteracy in Latin America is 11.7 % and for Cuba it is .2%.(7) The
International Bureau of Education of UNESCO observed that Cuba has the
lowest rate of illiteracy and the highest rate of education in Latin
America. According to the same organization, a Cuban student has two times
more knowledge than a Latin American child. It added that "Although Cuba is
one of the poorest countries in Latin America, it has the best results in
what it refers to as basic education." Juan Cassassus of the Latin American
Laboratory for Evaluation and Quality of Education of UNESCO noted that
"education has been a high standing priority in Cuba for the past 40 years.
It is a true education society."(8 ) Does Cuba really need "independent
libraries", or are they blowing smoke which is hiding darker intentions?
Mr. Nelson Valdés, professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico,
also questioned the validity of those associations. "Why so much interest in
defending the right to read of 11 million people who are almost 100%
literate, while the number of people who are illiterate in the United States
is 3 times higher than the number of Cubans who live on the island?" Indeed,
more than 30 million Americans don't know how to read or write. "After all,
illiteracy is the most important expression of censorship" observed the
Diverse professional American organizations carried out research with
respect to the "independent librarians", and they answer that those
structures were only fronts controlled by the United States.
The General Assembly of the International Federation of Library Associations
and Institutions (IFLA), held in Boston August 24, 2001, urged the "US
Government to share information materials widely in Cuba, especially with
Cuba's libraries, and not just with "individuals and independent
non-governmental organizations" that represent US political interests." (10)
Indeed, the American authorities, besides financing those libraries, block
access for Cubans to numerous magazines and publications, notably scientific
and university. For example, in a field as vital as medicine, around 50% of
the publications are American, but Cuban professionals don't have access to
A study titled "Payment for Services Rendered: U.S.-Funded Dissent and the
Independent Libraries Project" was completely silenced. It was presented
during the Pacific Coast Council on Latin American Studies, November 8-9,
2002 at East Los Angeles College by Mrs. Rhonda Neugebauer, bibliographer
from the University of California, Riverside. She reported of the visit she
had made in 2000 to Cuba in the company of Mr. Larry Oberg, librarian from
Willamette University, to more than a dozen "independent libraries." She
presented the following conclusions:
By interviewing the owners of these "libraries," we discovered that these
"libraries" were carefully chosen drop-off and contact points for personnel
from the U.S. Interests Section and others, who visited them on a regular
basis, to deliver materials and money. We also discovered that by accepting
anti-government materials and by developing "libraries" with these
materials, the "librarians" qualified to be paid a monthly stipend--"for
services rendered," as one of them put it.
Our interviews with these "librarians" contradicted a good deal of the PR
campaign that their U.S. financiers had undertaken, and established the fact
that the communiques circulated in the U.S. about these "libraries" were
intentionally misleading and politically motivated. (?)
Our research proved that what the "Friends of Cuban Libraries" campaign
identified as a "force for intellectual freedom" was simply part and parcel
of a U.S. foreign policy strategy that disingenuously advocated the "opening
civil society" in Cuba through the
funding of a variety of dissident groups. Over the last few years Washington
has given millions of dollars to U.S. and Cuban groups to create a "civil
society," that they hope leads to destabilization of the Cuban government
and ultimately to a "regime change" in Havana.(?)
In some cases, the "libraries" had ceased to exist because the "librarian"
had moved to the U.S., or had given away the "library," anticipating a
departure to the U.S. In one case, we confirmed that a "librarian" listed on
the "Independent Library Project" webpage, had moved to the U.S. six years
earlier, although his name still appeared as a director of a library in
Santiago, Cuba, and he is cited as having been "repressed" and "intimidated"
in Cuba for his library work.
We found that most of the "libraries" consisted of a few shelves of books in
private residences and that their titles were typical of what is owned by
many Cubans and by Cuban libraries. In fact, the majority of their books
were published in Cuba, by the Cuban government.
We were told that personnel from the U.S. Interests Section delivered many
of the items that were not published in Cuba, and that they received regular
visits from U.S. Interests Section personnel who dropped off packages on a
monthly basis along with money.
Since it was the first time any mention of money had been made in reference
to their work, I asked, "What is the money for?" "For services rendered,"
the "librarian" responded. "These libraries help the opposition in Cuba and
our leadership in Miami. They tell us what to do. They receive our reports
and news. They give us money so we can do what we do here, be dissidents and
build opposition to the Cuban government." (?)
During our visits with the "librarians," we asked about the supposed
repression, intimidation and confiscation of the materials, accounts of
which had been mentioned frequently and disseminated widely in the U.S. on
library listservs by a group called the "Friends of Cuban Libraries" Their
press releases recounted horrendous stories where the "librarians" had been
repressed, their book collections had been confiscated and the "librarians"
had been routinely intimidated and harassed by Cuban security forces, if not
jailed. We found no such evidence and no librarian corroborated these
charges from the
Friends of Cuban Libraries' press releases. Several "librarians" told us
they had been arrested or jailed briefly, but immediately clarified that
that was because of "opposition" activities or for breaking the law, mostly
by attempting to leave the country without an exit visa. (?)
They have connections to political groups outside the country, primarily to
anti-Castro groups and individuals, most of which now receiving funding
through various U.S.-based organizations dedicated to changing the Cuban
They have served no jail time for library activities; rather any jail time
has resulted from illegal activities and for their work to organize
political operations directed from abroad (which is illegal in Cuba).
When we asked the "librarians" if they circulated books to their neighbors,
they told us that they circulate books to many people who want to read about
new ideas, ideas that support capitalism and liberty. However, when we asked
their neighbors if they knew about the libraries, they said no. (?)
The existence of the "independent libraries," their holdings of radical
anti-Castro material, their association with operatives from the U.S.
Section and the Miami community who are intent on overthrowing the Cuban
government disproves their main argument (?) --that of censorship
and severe restrictions on intellectual freedom. (?)
They do continue to operate; they continue to contribute reports to Radio
Marti, Cubanet and other media; they continue to speak to foreign press and
to foreign visiting librarians and diplomats. Hence, they continue to be
well paid for services rendered.(11)
The American Library Association (ALA) also denounced the "independent
library fraud. Mrs. Ann Sparanese, librarian at the Englewood Public Library
and ALA member made the following statement, "They aren't librarians at all.
They are paid by the United States government (?) who tries to buy
dissidents in Cuba."(12)
With regards to the Canadian Library Association (CLA), it voted for a
resolution in June 2003, during a conference in Toronto, stipulating that "
CLA opposes any foreign government attempts to undermine Cuba's government
through economic blockades, subversion, military adventures, assassination
attempts, and outside funding of political opposition through 'civil
society' organizations." By the "'civil society' organizations CLA referred
to the human rights members," "independent journalists" and, of course
Mr. Ramón Humberto Colás Castillo left Cuba for the United States in
December 2001. Currently he is a member of the National Cuban American
Foundation (FNCA), a fascist organization composed of extremist Cubans,
which in addition to their lobbying work among U.S. Congressional members,
is a specialist in international terrorism. Recently, one of his
associates, Mr. Luis Posado Carriles, considered an old patron "of the Latin
American terrorist network,"(14) former agent of the CIA, and author of
close to one hundred assassinations, was condemned to eight years in prison
in Panama, for terrorist activities. (15)
Currently Mr. Colás Castillo spends his time between the United States and
Europe where he tries to affiliate different institutions and governments
around his project, which is in reality the intellectual creation of the
United States government. In July 2003, he was even received by the highest
French authority in the Quai d'Orsay in Paris. The French diplomacy, joined
itself to Washington's aggressive policy against Cuba, in addition to
stopping in part its cooperation with Cuban in different areas. Now it
receives members of a terrorist organization with great pomp. (16)
Another fact is also worry some. The mayor of the city of Paris, Mr.
Bertrand Delanoë, openly supported the project of he "independent libraries"
also created by Mr. Colás Castillo. Indeed, in a letter dated March 9, 2004,
Mr. Delanoë stated to the Free Cuba Solidarity Collective that it would be
able to count on his support. Thus, one of the most important political
personalities of the French left offered his support to a group, of which
for at least one member belongs to an extremist entity, seriously
implicated in international terrorism. Does the mayor of the French capital
perhaps know with whom he mixes? (17)
1 See Salim Lamrani, « Commission des droits de l'homme de Genève : Cuba, le
Honduras et l'histoire d'un terroriste notoire devenu diplomate étasunien »,
RISAL, 29 de abril del 2004.
consultado el 29 de abril del 2004).
2 Rosa Miriam Elizalde & Luis Baez, "Los Disidentes" (La Habana : Editora
Política, 2003), p. 56.
3 Ibid., pp. 47-66
4 Felipe Pérez Roque, Nous ne comptons pas renoncer à notre souveraineté,
Conférence de presse offerte par le ministre des relations extérieures de la
République de Cuba le 9 avril 2003. (La Habana : Editora Política, 2003) pp.
16-18. Granma, «Le terrorisme et la société civile comme instruments de la
politique des USA envers Cuba (IV). En suivant l'argent », 30 de julio del
2004. www.granmai.cubasi.cu/frances/2003/julio/mier30/30agee-f.html (sitio
consultado el 30 de abril del 2004).
5 Rhonda L. Neugebauer, « Payment For Services Rendered : U.S.-Funded
Dissent and the Independent Libraries Project », University of California
Riverside, 8-9 de noviembre del 2002.
www.cubalinda.com/English/Groups/RhondaNeugebauer.htm (sitio consultado el
30 de abril del 2004).
6 Ministère des Relations extérieures de la République de Cuba, Cuba et sa
défense de la totalité des droits de l'homme pour tous, (La Habana : Editora
Política, marzo del 2004), p. 48.
(sitio consultado el 29 de abril del 2004).
7 United Nations Development Program, « Human Development Indicators 2003 :
Cuba », 2003.
www.undp.org/hdr2003/indicator/cty_f_CUB.html (sitio consultado el 22 de
marzo del 2004) ; Commisión Económica Para América Latina (CEPAL),
Indicadores del desarrollo socioeconómico de América Latina. (Naciones
Unidas, 2002), pp. 12, 13, 39, 41, 43-47, 49-56, 66-67, 716-733.
8 United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
(ECLAC), op. cit., pp. 190-95 ; Latin American Laboratory for Evaluation and
Quality of Education, « Learning in Latin American », UNESCO, 3 de
septiembre del 1999. www.unesco.org/education/educnews/99-09-03/latinlab.htm
(sitio consultado el 10 de marzo del 2003).
9 Nelson Valdes, « Response to Nat Hentoff », International Responsabilities
Task Force of the American Library Association's Social Responsibilities
Round, diciembre del 2003.
www.pitt.edu/~ttwiss/irtf/cuba.letter2.html (sitio consultado el 30 de abril
10 International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA),
« Resolution Adopted at IFLA Council II Held at Boston on Friday 24th August
2001 », 24 de agosto del 2001. www.ifla.org/IV/ifla67/resol-01.htm (sitio
consultado el 30 de abril del 2004).
11 Rhonda L. Neugebauer, op. cit.
12 Tim Wheeler, « ALA Rejects U.S.-Backed Libraries in Cuba », People's
Weekly World, 24 de mayo del 2003.
www.pww.org/article/articleview/3480/1/164 (sitio consultado el 30 de abril
13 Canadian Library Association, « CLA's Resolution », American Library
Association, junio del 2003.
www.ala.org/Template.cfm?Section=News&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=53695 (sitio consultado el 30 de abril del 2004).
14 Noam Chomsky & Edward S. Herman, Economie politique des droits de
l'homme. La « Washington Connection » et le Fascisme dans le Tiers Monde
(París : J.E. Hallier & Albin Michel, 1981), p. 50.
15 En efecto, había intentado asesinar al presidente cubano, mientras éste
ofrecía una conferencia en la Universidad de Panamá en el 2000. Había
colocado una bomba de quince kilos de explosivos C4 en el recinto
universitario donde 2 000 estudiantes habían
asistido al discurso del Sr. Fidel Castro. La policía panameña había
estimado que la explosión hubiera podido ocasionar centenares de víctimas.
Las tentativas de la FNCA para liberar al Sr. Luis Posada Carriles
fracasaron, pero una nueva colecta de fondos fue organizada en Miami por la
ultraderecha cubana, en la cual participó el Sr. Francisco "Pepe" Hernández,
presidente de la FNCA. Ver a: Ann Louise Bardach & Larry Rohter, « Key Cuba
Foe Claims Exiles' Backing », New York Times, 12 de julio del 1998,
1, 3, 4, 5. www.nytimes.com/librairy/world/americas/071298cuba-plot.html
(sitio consultado el 3 de febrero del 2003) ; El Nuevo Herald, « Condenan en
Panamá a Luis Posada Carriles », 21 de abril del 2004 : 23A ; El Nuevo
Herald, « Piden Pena máxima contra anticastristas », 18 de marzo del 2004 :
17A, El Nuevo Herald, « Recaudan fondos para exiliados presos en Panamá »,
23 de abril del 2004 : 17A. Ver también a Glenn Garvin, « Panama : Exile
Says Aim Was Castro Hit », The Miami Herald, 13 de enero del 2001 ; Glenn
Garvin & Frances Robles, « Panama Suspect Has Ties to Dade », The Miami
Herald, 21 de noviembre del 2001 ; John Rice, « Panama : Fidel Steals Show
With Death Plot », The Associated Press, 18 de noviembre del 2000 ; Fernando
Martínez & David Aponte, «Anticastristas llegaron a Panamá para asesinarlo,
denuncia Castro », La Jornada, 18 de noviembre del 2000.
16 Paulo A. Paranagua, « 'Si tu vas à Cuba, emporte un livre', demandent les
opposants », Le Monde, 25 de julio del 2003.
17 Bertrand Delanoë, « Alcalde de París confirma apadrinamiento de
bibliotecas independientes en Cuba », La Nueva Cuba, 26 de marzo del 2004.
consultado el 31 de marzo del 2004).
Original article in Spanish
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