Congress enacted the USA Patriot Act after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Act significantly expanded the federal government's surveillance and intelligence gathering capabilities. One of the new tools at the Government's disposal is a National Security Letter (NSL). An NSL is an administrative subpoena that allows the FBI to demand personal records from organizations without prior court approval and prohibits disclosure by the recipient. In 2006, in the town of Windsor, CT, librarians found themselves on the receiving end of an NSL for patrons' records. Rather than meekly submitting to the gag order, they sued the Government. Libraries across the country began to engage in acts of civil disobedience. Notices were posted warning patrons that their search histories, passwords, and emails could be subject to FBI surveillance, and documents with personal identifying information were shredded. Signs appeared daily on library doors telling patrons which organizations had visited the library.

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Consider and      discuss how moral autonomy in public organizations might apply. What would      you have done in the librarians’ shoes?   Unit 6.2 DB: Public Assistance Benefits Review the information in National Immigration Forum. (2018, August 21). Fact sheet: Immigrants and public benefits.
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The American Library Association (ALA) publicly opposed parts of the Act. Believing that they violated the library community's long-standing commitment to privacy and freedom of access to information, it adopted a resolution calling certain sections of the Act "a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users." The ALA urged "all libraries to adopt and implement patron privacy and record retention policies that affirm that 'the collection of personally identifiable information should only be a matter of routine or policy when necessary for the fulfillment of the mission of the library." State and local libraries followed suit, enacting their own resolutions or endorsing the ALAs.


Unit 6.2 DB: Public Assistance Benefits

Review the information in National Immigration Forum. (2018, August 21). Fact sheet: Immigrants and public benefits.Using the 5-stage roadmap for making ethical decisions found in Chapter 5 of your textbook and wearing your public administrator's hat, how would you address the issue of providing public-assistance benefits to undocumented persons? 


Unit 6.3 DB: Perspectives

Read U.S. Office of Government Ethics. (n.d.). Standards of ethical conduct: Summary for executive branch employees.

  • Provide an example from a current event where a public administrator or official failed to meet one or more of the seven standards.
  • Explain the magnitude of the failure and the impact on the organization.
  • What was the outcome, and do you think that "the punishment fit the crime?"


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