Print 57 comment(s) - last by JonnyDough.. on Sep 12 at 11:53 AM

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 JonnyDough on 9/12/2007 11:49:36 AM , Rating: 1
This brings up the point that I've been that our military creation policy needs to be revised. The military should consist of men and women that volunteer and are not paid. These men and women can then once again have HONOR, and be revered as HEROES. If the military was volunteer, our taxes would be cut in more than half. It would also mean that we don't go about policing the world and foreign countries might regain respect for us and LEAVE US ALONE, instead of terrorizing us. Which would also save money and headache and heartache. Why does America insist on picking up guns? When will we understand that fighting only leads to pain, death, and misery? If we weren't paying to stretch our influences all over earth we would be so rich in this country...and have our fathers at home helping to raise boys who may ultimately end up in prison. Fewer young kids in prison? Yep. Lower taxes. Not only do taxpayers not have to pay for their prisoning, but those kids would be out in the world creating revenue for the government instead of costing the government (Us) money. Maybe it's time that we rethought our militant stance in the world, and got our F'ing heads screwed on straight. Now is the time that we NEED assault rifles here at home, we need to get united behind the idea that our foreign policy BLOWS, and we need to DEMAND change because it's not going to happen otherwise.

RE: Thank God.
By JonnyDough on 9/12/2007 11:51:50 AM , Rating: 1
In addition, any man or woman that serves some time in the military and is hailed as a brave hero would also be appreciated here in the homeland, so the job is not "without payment" as it would lead to job placement opportunities by a grateful nation. This is how our government used to operate, and it worked very well if I recall.

RE: Thank God.
By JonnyDough on 9/12/2007 11:53:57 AM , Rating: 1
One more thing, I am not against being taxed for veteran assistance, and am quite for it. I just don't think that the government should be able to provide such incentives coupled with mass advertising to lure people into doing it's bidding. They're not promoting job opportunities on my tv, they're promoting war.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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