An F-B-I agent who revealed that her agency overlooked signs of potential terrorist attacks prior to 9-11 will speak this weekend at the University of Iowa. Coleen Rowley is a graduate of the U-of-I law school and told reporters Monday in a conference call that her upcoming speech will focus on the Patriot Act. Rowley says the Patriot Act, passed after 9-11 to help in homeland security efforts, has drawn some undue criticism. She says it’s become a symbol of people’s criticism of the government, oppression and potential violation of civil liberties. But, she says when you look at it, there are over 100 provisions, and many of the provisions are not controversial. Rowley says parts of the Patriot Act aren’t even new. She says some of them do not broaden what was already permissible and regularly done under “garden variety criminal law.” Rowley says one of the provisions that’s draw too much criticism is the right to investigate library records. She says such a search is not something that ever really proves useful to investigators.She says there’s one example in prior history of the F-B-I going to the library to check reading records — the Uni-bomber case, and she says that made perfect sense. But she says you have to look long and hard to find other cases because it’s not a very good investigative tool. Rowley says part of the problem has been the lack of discussion on the issues by Attorney General John Ashcroft. Rowley cites the library situation again, saying if the Attorney General had come out sooner and said library records were rarely used — it wouldn’t have become such a big issue. Rowley was asked if she’s gotten flack since she spoke out about problems in the F-B-I. She says she hasn’t, and says her memo went throught the standard pre-publication review before going out. She says that’s a good sign and when she talks to civil libertarian groups she uses that as an example of how the system is working. Rowley says it probably has become tougher to give her flack if someone wanted to after she was on the cover of Time magazine. Rowley was named Time’s 2002 co-person of the year for speaking out on the problems she saw in the FBI.
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