The Standard-Times has information ("Agents' visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior") about a college student with suspicious reading habits: he was researching fascism and totalitarianism, and requested a copy of Mao's "Little Red Book."
Then the feds came knocking on his door.
The student's professor suspects that more monitoring is occurring, is reconsidering plans to offer a class on terrorism, and calls reading Mao "completely harmless."
I visit my local library regularly, and check out books that are probably on the Bush administration's watch list; I have purchased several others, which are shelved in plain sight in my home. Whether or not the spooks have used the Patriot [sic] Act's infamous Section 215 to generate a file on my reading habits will remain unknown until I feel it necessary to file a FOIA request.
(I heard about this incident yesterday, but didn't have the time to track down the details. Thanks to Joe at Hughes for America for posting "George Bush's America" with a link to the Standard-Times article.)
Kos breaks the news in "UMass Mao library book story is a hoax" that this story is untrue; the student in question fabricated the entire incident. As Kos notes in his mea culpa:
When we're wrong in promoting a story, we need to face up to it and move on. That's what makes us better than the opposition, who as we know, never own up to mistakes.
In all fairness to the Right, "never" is an overstatement; I have seen a few retractions, although not nearly as many as there should be. I'd love to see everyone--on the Left as well as the Right--own up publicly and completely about the errors they propagate. This is my attempt at doing so.
I would like to note that, absent the obsessive secrecy of the Bush era as illustrated by the gag order implemented by the Patriot [sic] Act, this hoax would not have been possible. If the librarians had been free to comment on the (nonexistent) incident, the student's mendacity would have been exposed much more quickly.