Federal Judge: National Security Letters "Unconstitutional"
September 6, 2007 4:26 PM
comment(s) - last by
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.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: Thank God.
9/7/2007 10:31:38 AM
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.
9/8/2007 1:24:34 AM
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.
9/12/2007 11:40:23 AM
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.
“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs
Target Chief Information Officer Resigns in Wake of Holiday Data Breach
March 6, 2014, 2:01 PM
Quick Note: Yahoo to Require Users of its Services to Have Yahoo IDs
March 5, 2014, 4:55 PM
Ellen DeGeneres' Star-studded "Selfie" Briefly Crashes Twitter During Oscar Broadcast
March 3, 2014, 8:27 AM
Comcast Deal May See Netflix Start Paying Verizon, AT&T
February 25, 2014, 9:29 AM
Report: NSA Still Spying on German Officials
February 24, 2014, 1:19 PM
Netflix Agrees to Pay Comcast to End Traffic Jam
February 24, 2014, 10:00 AM
Most Popular Articles
Mt. Gox Bitcoin CEO Can't Stifle Grin as he Bows in Apology for Bankruptcy
February 28, 2014, 5:00 PM
Facebook Kills Popular Messenger App for PCs
March 1, 2014, 4:01 PM
Report: Microsoft Considering Offering Free “Windows 8.1 with Bing”
February 28, 2014, 10:21 AM
Two More Microsoft Executives Leaving the Company
March 3, 2014, 4:38 PM
USAF Moves Forward With Long Range Bomber Program Despite Budget Crunch
March 4, 2014, 9:44 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
Global Cyber Espionage Concerns Reveal Growing Cyber Armies
Nov 29, 2013, 11:04 AM
Is The Period Becoming an Expression of Anger?
Nov 26, 2013, 2:02 PM
NSA and Congress -- You Will Never Kill the Constitution, It's an Idea
Nov 10, 2013, 2:00 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information