Skip to comments.Terror threat sparks Newton librarian/FBI standoff
Posted on 01/25/2006 12:05:00 PM PST by danno3150
Newton officials are calling their refusal to allow FBI agents access to library computers without a warrant during a terrorist threat last week their finest hour.
Law enforcement officials say its a nightmare.
Police rushed to the Newton Free Library after tracing a terrorist threat e-mailed to Brandeis University to a computer at the library.
But requests to examine computers Jan. 18 were rebuffed by Newton library Director Kathy Glick-Weil and Mayor David Cohen on the grounds that they did not have a warrant.
Cohen, defending the librarys actions, called the legal standoff one of Newtons finest hours.
We showed you can enforce the law without jeopardizing the privacy of innocent citizens, the mayor said.
It took U.S. attorneys several hours to finally secure a warrant, Glick-Weil said, and they took the computer from the library at about 11:30 that night, after the library had closed.
Brandeis received the alleged e-mail threat at about 11 a.m., according to Waltham Lt. Brian Navin. While police reportedly didnt find anything threatening after evacuating 12 buildings at Brandeis and a nearby elementary school, by about 2 p.m., the e-mail was traced to a computer at the Newton Free Library.
Newton police, followed shortly by FBI and state police officers, rushed to the library to lock the building down, Glick-Weil said.
There was a lot of excitement going on, she said.
An FBI spokesman, as well as Lt. Bruce Apotheker of the Newton police, both said their offices would not comment on the investigation.
But a law enforcement official close to the investigation said in an e-mail the confrontation was a nightmare.
Nancy Murray, director of education for the Boston branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, said she was surprised the FBI asked for information without a warrant.
They couldnt possibly expect to get (the computer) without a warrant, she said. Good for the library for knowing more about warrants than the police.
It would have been justice if the Newton Library blew up.
I see no reason that the government can't get a warrant when it needs information. It's right there in the fourth Amendment. Change the Amendment if you feel warrants are no longer necessary.
This is a publicly-funded library, yes? Is a warrant neccessary to search a public institution?
It would have been justice if the Newton Library blew up.
Exactly. Of course then they would have been squalling tht someone should have done more to protect them. What idiots.
Liberals. A criminals best defense.
I heard about that from Article 8. I guess the commie senators have never heard of the First Amendment.
If they were Christian conservatives the FBI would have burned them all alive.
Great to be communists in Romneyland.
If the threat involved their sorry asses or their kids, they would be singing a different tune. "The police didn't do anything! They just stood around waiting for the stupid warrant. My child could have died!" Typical library liberals.
Okay, where do we email these pinheads?
And the next time the Mayor requests some urgent federal action for Newton the requestee should be rearranging their sock draw.
And then the case goes to the Federal courts where the law will be overturned.
Libraries only have computers and video games to increase traffic to justify their budgets.
Time for some budget trimming, libraries are luxuries.
That would have put them in fine shape.
What about probable cause? Doesn't that override the need for a warrant?
Al-Queda will be making a note of this.
I'm 'outta MA with the next job-offer.
Don't bother.I lived in Newton for the first 33 years of my life and within 10 miles of Newton for the rest of my life.
Newton is a lost cause.Kim Jong Il could easily carry Newton in a presidential election...Bob Dole couldn't. Per capita,there are more rich guys with gray ponytails there than anywhere else in the world.
Got the picture?
Yeah, thanks. 'But I still think it would be a hoot to have them receive a couple of hundred thousand emails from--gasp---the Red states.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Looks pretty simple to me.
The FBI could have and should have gotten a warrant before going to the library.
I'm far from siding with the liberals on most anything, but I am strongly on the side of the Constitution, and this looks pretty cut and dried.
We certainly would hope so!!!!
I wonder if he would have continued to feel so smug and justified if terrorists did in fact attack the Brandeis campus, after he had refused the FBI's request to follow up the threat?
These elitist maroons disgust me.
It's cut and dried that the FBI needed a warrant to perform a search without consent, and they went and got one. I think what is irritating to most people on this thread (me, anyway) is that the library did not consent to the search.
"Don't tempt me, Frodo"!!
Even Ms. Glick-Weil has heard of probable cause:
Kathy Glick-Weil, director of the Newton Free Library, said she opposes the government having the authority to search an individual's library records without probable cause and worries that the law compromises the library's traditional role of promoting the free exchange of information and ideas. 8/21/2003
The Mayor and Librarian acted like an outraged homeowners instead of cooperative public officials.
So WTH is going on down in Mass. that it takes several hours to secure a warrant in a situation such as this?
This attitude among law enforcement that the Constitution which they swore an oath to support and defend is a "nightmare" is rather disturbing to me, but I reckon it's par for the course in Massachusetts.
Ah! Because a person chose to exercise their rights under the the Constitution it makes it bad.
Got it, but I'm not in agreement.
If it were me, I might have agreed to the search given the circumstances if it were explained reasonably, but since I wasn't, I'll go with door number 1.
It's a judge's call to define probable cause, not a librarian's - that's why law enforcement officials are required to secure a warrant before conducting searches.
We're at war, if you hadn't noticed.
If someone had died, because of their nonsense...
actually, if I agree that law enforcement can search my home, then they can search my home. I don't need a judge to tell me whether or not it is reasonable. I have that option, of course. But a library is a public institution. No one should expect that anything they do in a library would remain private. I never have. Whether the feds have a right to go into a local library and order folks around is another matter. Local cops should have been able to do it. But that's just my opinion.
Which would apply if the perpetrator owned the computer.
If the FBI asked by boss to inspect my computer at work, he could say yes without violating my 4th amendment rights.
Since they are the library's computers, which are in effect the government's computers, they can and should agree.
I could be wrong, but I have always assumed that the records of public libraries are a matter of public record.
You barely escaped this time
It was probably a set up by them...they knew the library wasn't going to blow...so they exercised what they think is their right...to get back at W.
Agreed,but that woudn't matter in Newton.To give you an idea of what I'm saying,keep in mind that Newton is heavily Jewish but the majority of the resident think that Israel is the second most dangerous and oppressive nation on Earth, after the US.
An argument can be made that the public owns the computers and not the government.
Given the way most libraries are funded, I'd have to challenge that statement.
Public library and the folks wanting access to the computers were citizens. Anyone sitting at one of the computers would have had the same basic access to anything that they would have...
Why would the FBI not possibly expect to get the computer without a warrant? Warrants are only required when the party you want information or materials from does not wish to give it up voluntarily. Why wouldn't the library wish to do so?
It has nothing to do with the FBI not knowing more about warrants than the library does. It has to do with the FBI thinking, incorrectly in this case, that the library might understand that when lives are possibly at stake, they should expect some cooperation from a public official.
If I lived in Newton, I'd move that the librarian be fined or fired.
"It's a judge's call to define probable cause, not a librarian's - that's why law enforcement officials are required to secure a warrant before conducting searches."
Couldn't this fall under the category of a hot pursuit? It reads like a terror threat was recieved, immediately traced to a specific location, and when the cops arrived, a bureaucrat says not so fast.
If someone is shot on the street in front of the library, and the perp is seen to run inside, do the police need a warrant to pursue?