Thursday, June 21, 2007

FBI even violates the Patriot Act

Here's a link to the Register's editorial on a federal judge ordering the FBI to turn over documents relating to its apparent violation even of the looser standards under the Patriot Act in its use of what are called National Security Letters. NSLs are demands to turn over information -- phone records, banks records, etc -- that are issued without resort to a judge to sign a warrant and that by law cannot be disclosed to anyone else except one's attorney. The Patriot Act gave the FBI more authority -- too much in my view -- to use NSLs, but the FBI went beyond even that power at least 1,000 (maybe many more than that) times since 2002, according to its own internal audit.

When a less extensive Department of Justice audit turned up similar evidence back in March or April the Electronic Frontier Foundation asked for the relevant documents under the Freedom of Information Act. The FBI dragged its feet, but now a federal judge has ordered it to comply. Good. The fewer secrets the government can keep the better.

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