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The controversial aspect of the USA Patriot Act has once again been struck down

A federal judge struck down the controversial National Security Letter (NSL) provision of the revised USA Patriot Act, with Federal District Judge Victor Marrera ruling it "unconstitutional." A favorite tool of the FBI, NSLs were found to violate the principle of seperation of powers and the First Amendment.

National Security Letters are a form of subpoena that allows the FBI or other government agencies to gather data from companies or individuals in secret and without court approval. Oftentimes ISPs find themselves targetted and are forced to turn over phone records, web surfing histories, or e-mail. However, the powers of NSLs have also been used against financial, credit, or even library records. NSL recipients are bound under a gag order and forbidden from discussing any aspect of the NSL to anyone, including close family or friends.

Government orders require judicial oversight, wrote Judge Marrera: "as this decision recognizes, courts have a constitutionally mandated role to play when national security policies infringe on First Amendment rights. A statute that allows the FBI to silence people without meaningful judicial oversight is unconstitutional." In a 106-page ruling, Juedge Marrero called the NSL "the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values."

Although only part of the NSL provision was found to be unconstitutional, all of it was struck down as Judge Marrera found the offending parts to be inseperable from the rest of the law.

"The courts play an important role in balancing the requirements of national security against the constitutional protections that safeguard our basic freedoms and liberties," said New York Civil Liberties Union Legal Director Arthur Eisenburg. "We are delighted that the court fulfilled that important function in this case."

While the FBI has had the power to issue NSLs for years, the number of national security letters issued has risen tremendously since the expansion of its abilities as enacted in the USA Patriot Act, culminating with 19,000 NSLs issued in 2005 seeking over 47,000 various pieces of information, sent mostly to telecommunications and ISPs. In an internal audit, conducted by the FBI against approximately 10% of all NSLs issues from 2002 to 2007, it was discovered that these requests violated agency rules or federal law over 1,000 times. Actual numbers are sketchy, however, as the FBI has consistently underreported NSL statistics. A report issued by the Justice Department's Inspector General puts the number of NSLs issued between 2003 to 2005 at over 143,000.

The NSL provision of the Patriot Act was originally struck down in a 2004 ruling also issued by Judge Marrera as part of Doe v. Gonzales, who noted that "democracy abhors undue secrecy." The case, which was filed on behalf of an anonymous ISP that had been served with an NSL, was later appealed by the government -- however the law was changed before the court could issue a decision.

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RE: Thank God.
By wetwareinterface on 9/7/2007 1:50:37 AM , Rating: 1
The problem with your argument is that the second amendment wasn't written to protect your right to bear arms against home intruders or to go hunting. It specifically states that your right to bear arms is a protection against a government that wants to remove your liberties by force. And if the army comes marching down my street with M16-a1 assault rifles I want to be able to use the same.

Do I even own a gun right now?
If I feel the breeze blowing the wrong way towards a tyrannical state can I buy the right kind of gun now?

You can take your lame argument against assault rifles and thnk about something. The whole recent assault rifle ban started with one idiot walking onto a school playground in Stockton, CA with an AK-47. He killed several kids and wounded several others. Now imagine him on that same playground with a 12 gauge shotgun. He wouldn't have missed as many times as he did with that AK due to recoil. The death toll would have been much higher if he had used a shotgun cause you don't have to be an expert shot or know to use a 3 round burst to be effective. If you're shot by a shotgun or hunting rifle or AK-47 problem is you're just as dead in any of the three situations. With the hunting rifle or shotgun your chances of being hit immediately are higher than with an assault rifle. The only real diference with an assault rifle is you get to have a better second chance of a hit if you miss your first shot. That's it, no less or more deadly, just a better second chance hit ratio.

The fact that assault rifles are favored by citizens easily impressed with firepower and the natural attraction of mentally sick people and criminals in this catagory doesn't mean that the assault rifles themselves are at fault. If aliens or God suddenly vaporized every assault rifle these same people would still be killing others only with shotguns and handguns only.

The appeal of the assault rifle to those people who are sick in the head or criminal is no reason to ban it for those that would own one responsibly. Anymore than a ban on video cameras would be constitutional to avoid peeping toms and privacy violations.

RE: Thank God.
By Etsp on 9/7/2007 2:19:00 AM , Rating: 2
Assault rifles are merely a tool. A tool designed specifically to kill people. In the hands of someone without proper training, it is very dangerous, and so only people who are qualified to own them should. The same way a Train is a tool that is designed for something completely different, but in the hands of someone who should not be in control of it, it can be quite destructive. There is a proper time and place for everything.

Gun control should be done on a state level, never a federal level. Because of how our system works, if there is ever a need to take arms against a government, including our own, the state would decide whether or not to repeal gun control laws on the basis of necessity. The local government is composed of local officials acting on the behalf of the local people. There are of course, no absolutes that all state officials are acting on the behalf of the people...quite the contrary in fact. However, the majority of elected officials in the local government make their decisions based on the wants or needs of the local people. And thats the beauty and the pitfall of democracy. The majority decides what is right, even if they are wrong.

And your argument of shotgun's being more deadly than assault rifles has little basis in reality. First, the recoil of most shotguns is greater than the recoil of most assault rifles, and can not be fired as fast. He may have had more accuracy, but he would have fired many, many less times. Second, most shotguns do not utilize fast reloading clips unless it was designed for combat purposes, each shell must be loaded manually. Third, the majority of shotguns available to the public hold less than 10 rounds. Fourth, shotguns aren't nearly as lethal as rifles at longer ranges. And fifth,
With the hunting rifle or shotgun your chances of being hit immediately are higher than with an assault rifle.

Are you listening to yourself? Why would a weapon designed to kill people be LESS EFFECTIVE then the ones designed for hunting, where in most cases, you are only aiming for one target at a time, instead a group of targets.

RE: Thank God.
By rdeegvainl on 9/7/2007 5:21:13 AM , Rating: 2
Yes assault rifles are a tool. A tool designed specifically to kill people. But They are a tool protected by the Second Ammendment. The purpose of the second ammendment was for the people to have the power to stand up to the government when it crosses the line. For that to be effective, against a trained military, we should not restrict assault rifles from the very reason we have the second ammendment. To take guns out of the situation, it would be akin to saying that citizens are allowed to have daggers and knives to protect themselves from the government, when the government soldiers have swords and spears.
The ammendment says "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
It does not make allowances for the effectiveness of the weapon being too great.

RE: Thank God.
By Etsp on 9/7/2007 10:31:38 AM , Rating: 3
What line are you referring to exactly that the government would cross? Like, oh, I don't know, maybe taking away our constitutional rights? Wow, the second amendment would be the first one out the window. And the states would not stand for it. We currently have an all volunteer military, and I believe that in the event that the citizens need to take arms against the government, the soldiers would choose defend their homes rather than the federal government.

During the times we are not at war with our own government, these kinds of things aren't needed in the hands of Joe Public.
"A well regulated Militia"
In the hands of a well regulated militia is a completely different story however...

RE: Thank God.
By rdeegvainl on 9/8/2007 1:24:34 AM , Rating: 2
The line they cross when the people feel they have to fight back.
And during the times we are not at war, we should still protect our right to bear arms, cause if they take them away while not at war, then are they magically gonna be available when problems do come about? no.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
See the line says that because of the militia being necessary, the PEOPLE have the right to bear Arms, not just those in the militia.

RE: Thank God.
By JonnyDough on 9/12/2007 11:40:23 AM , Rating: 1
Our military is not voluntary. The soldiers get paid, and they are targeted with a LOT of advertising to get them to sign up. For many it is a just a way out of financial trouble. They choose to sign up, yes, but once they are in - they are in. There is no easy way of getting out without dishonorable discharge (which is a very bad option) or without serving your time. Serving your time makes it sound a little like prison doesn't it? Last I checked, prison wasn't voluntary either, but does usually depend on a choice someone makes. If you call a bad decision volunteering then I guess women volunteer to get beat up when they go on that first date with a seemingly nice guy who turns out to be violent. Most signing up for the military don't realize that they're doing the devil's bidding, or they're just too much in a financial pickle to care.

RE: Thank God.
By mindless1 on 9/7/2007 8:29:57 AM , Rating: 2
I've seen people injured by screwdrivers, shall we outlaw those too?

How about knives?

AFAIK, none of these assault rifle toting madmen are going to prevent you from leaving the US if you can't stand the freedoms it provides to it's citizens. Just go, find a new place to live. Maybe you'll find that place or maybe you'll find that the individual freedoms some countries offer are more important than the few times there is a price to pay for that freedom.

RE: Thank God.
By hockyis1 on 9/7/2007 11:17:26 AM , Rating: 2
I would rather outlaw assault weapons and make the gang-bangers in South Central LA do drivebys with knives, rope, and matches however.

RE: Thank God.
By ZmaxDP on 9/7/2007 8:15:45 PM , Rating: 2
If you outlaw assault rifles (already done) that won't stop gang bangers from using them for drive-bys anymore than outlawing drugs (already done)would prevent them from selling or using them...

RE: Thank God.
By JonnyDough on 9/12/2007 11:41:54 AM , Rating: 1
Agreed. Outlawing marijuana hasn't stopped half of America from becoming potheads either.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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