Let's all ask for the book

From Henry Noble <hjnoble@igc.org>
Date Mon, 19 Dec 2005 19:20:01 -0800
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What would you think if we all ask libraries for "The Little Red Book?"
We can keep the feds busy and out of other students' hair. 

Gosh, I actually own a copy.


At 07:00 PM 12/19/2005, YAN Hairong wrote:
Agents' visit chills UMass Dartmouth senior
By AARON NICODEMUS, Standard-Times staff writer

NEW BEDFORD -- A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by
federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of
Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red

Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn
Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them
he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's
interlibrary loan program.

The student, who was completing a research paper on
Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and
totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving
his name, address, phone number and Social Security number.
He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by
two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the
professors said.

The professors said the student was told by the agents that
the book is on a "watch list," and that his background,
which included significant time abroad, triggered them to
investigate the student further.

"I tell my students to go to the direct source, and so he
asked for the official Peking version of the book,"
Professor Pontbriand said. "Apparently, the Department of
Homeland Security is monitoring inter-library loans, because
that's what triggered the visit, as I understand it."
Although The Standard-Times knows the name of the student,
he is not coming forward because he fears repercussions
should his name become public. He has not spoken to The

The professors had been asked to comment on a report that
President Bush had authorized the National Security Agency
to spy on as many as 500 people at any given time since 2002
in this country.

The eavesdropping was apparently done without warrants.
The Little Red Book, is a collection of quotations and
speech excerpts from Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung.
In the 1950s and '60s, during the Cultural Revolution in
China, it was required reading. Although there are abridged
versions available, the student asked for a version
translated directly from the original book.
The student told Professor Pontbriand and Dr. Williams that
the Homeland Security agents told him the book was on
a "watch list." They brought the book with them, but did not
leave it with the student, the professors said.
Dr. Williams said in his research, he regularly contacts
people in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other Muslim hot spots,
and suspects that some of his calls are monitored.
"My instinct is that there is a lot more monitoring than we
think," he said.

Dr. Williams said he had been planning to offer a course on
terrorism next semester, but is reconsidering, because it
might put his students at risk.

"I shudder to think of all the students I've had monitoring
al-Qaeda Web sites, what the government must think of that,"
he said. "Mao Tse-Tung is completely harmless."

Contact Aaron Nicodemus at anicodemus@s-t.com

This story appeared on Page A9 of The Standard-Times on
December 17, 2005.