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Libraries Ordered to Destroy U.S. Pamphlets


— July 24, 2004

This strikes me as rather odd:

By Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff | July 24, 2004

The federal Government Printing Office has ordered libraries across the country to destroy five US Department of Justice pamphlets that provide how-to instructions on prosecuting asset forfeiture cases, invoking a rarely-used authority to order the removal of items the government routinely sends to hundreds of libraries.

The pamphlets are among the material the office sends each year to about 1,300 depository libraries. Those facilities, at least two in each congressional district, are designated by Congress to receive and make available copies of virtually all documents the federal government publishes.


This strikes me as rather odd:

By Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff | July 24, 2004

The federal Government Printing Office has ordered libraries across the country to destroy five US Department of Justice pamphlets that provide how-to instructions on prosecuting asset forfeiture cases, invoking a rarely-used authority to order the removal of items the government routinely sends to hundreds of libraries.

The pamphlets are among the material the office sends each year to about 1,300 depository libraries. Those facilities, at least two in each congressional district, are designated by Congress to receive and make available copies of virtually all documents the federal government publishes.

Representatives of the 65,000-member American Library Association said they did not know why the pamphlets were ordered destroyed, and they pledged yesterday to challenge the order as an infringement on a century-old guarantee of public access to unclassified documents that the government publishes each year. . . .

[T]he office’s one-paragraph directive listed the five pamphlets, with titles such as “Civil and Criminal Forfeiture Procedure” and “Select Federal Assets Forfeiture Statutes,” and instructed librarians to “withdraw these materials immediately and destroy all copies by any means to prevent disclosure of their content,” according to a copy of the e-mail sent to the Boston Public Library and all other depository libraries.

The pamphlets apparently contain the results of legal reasearch into statutes and procedures that federal prosecutors can use to seize the “cash, cars, houses, boats, and other property of convicted drug dealers and other criminals.” Most of the information has been publicly available for four years, and all of it can be found “in law offices and law libraries across the country.”

Details here from The Boston Globe.

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