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Posts Tagged ‘warrantless wiretaps’

News & Resources on Gov’t Wiretapping

In information policy, privacy, public policy on July 13, 2009 at 7:15 am

A year to the day since Pres. Bush signed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 expanding government wiretapping powers, five major government agencies have now released a report on the controversial issue. I’ve aggregated a few pieces of background information along with the report itself, civil liberties commentary and reports on related intelligence legislation. Links below.

In the News This Week

The Report
Offices of Inspectors General, July 10, 2009

Analysis of the Report by the ACLU

Analysis from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who will argue a case in district court this week on the issue of NSA wiretapping of U.S. residents through communication provider AT&T (Jewel v. NSA).


Privacy: An Abbreviated Outline of Federal Statutes Governing Wiretapping and Electronic Eavesdropping
Library of Congress, 2008

Warrantless Wiretaps: A Guide to the Debate
National Public Radio, 2006

Related Reports

Annual Wiretap Reports from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.
Each year the U.S Courts must submit a full report to Congress on all wiretaps for the prior year (pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 2519). These reports include analysis and outcomes resulting from surveillance efforts.

A Review of the FBI’s Use of National Security Letters: Assessment of Corrective Actions and Examination of NSL Usage in 2006
Dept. of Justice, Office of Inspector General, March 2008

A Review of the FBI’s Use of Section 215 Orders for Business Records in 2006, Special Report, March 2008
Dept. of Justice, Office of Inspector General, March 2008

(These last two reports are updated annually. To stay up to date see the U.S. Department of Justice publications).


Legislation to Watch: H.R. 1476 and 1800

In intellectual freedom, privacy, public policy on April 26, 2009 at 11:02 am

Last month, two important pieces of legislation were proposed in the House.

The Safe and Secure America Act, H.R. 1467, was introduced on March 12, 2009 by Sen. Lamar Smith (R-TX). The bill proposes a 10-year extension on “roving” wiretap powers and government access to library patron records. These provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act are scheduled to sunset this December. Rather than revise the constitutionally questionable sections, this bill would extend them (and the much contested FISA Amendments) until December 31, 2019. Stay up to date: Track H.R. 1467 here.

The National Security Letters Reform Act of 2009, H.R. 1800, was introduced March 30, 2009, by Rep. Jerrold Nadler. The bill raises the standard needed for the FBI to obtain National Security Letters, and stipulates that NSLs must not be used to spy on U.S. residents based solely on First Amendment activities. See ACLU “Legislation Introduced To Curtail Patriot Act Abuse” (3/30/09), and stay up to date: Track H.R. 1800 here.

FISA Court: Privacy Rights Less Important Than Gov Info Gathering

In governance, information policy, intellectual freedom, privacy on January 16, 2009 at 10:05 am

Intelligence Court Releases Ruling in Favor of Warrantless Wiretapping
Washington Post, By Del Quentin Wilber and R. Jeffrey Smith

Excerpt: …The ruling, which was issued in August but not made public until now, responded to an unnamed telecommunications firm’s complaint that the Bush administration in 2007 improperly demanded information on its clients, violating constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. The company complied with the demand while the case was pending.

In its opinion, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review ruled that national security interests outweighed the privacy rights of those targeted, affirming what amounts to a constitutional exception for matters involving government interests “of the highest order of magnitude.”

Read more.

View (heavily redacted) FISA Court ruling here. [PDF] download

Eric Holder Supports Warrantless Wiretaps, Defends PATRIOT Act

In governance, information policy, intellectual freedom, privacy, Uncategorized on January 16, 2009 at 9:46 am

In yesterday’s hearing, attorney general nominee Eric Holder made it clear he intends to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act and reiterated his support for FISA’s Protect American Act, which permits warrantless wiretapping.

Under Eric Holder, ‘War on Terror’ Would Still Define the DOJ

Alternet, By Liliana Segura, January 16, 2009

Excerpt: …Holder’s responses to the question of warrantless wiretapping gave even less to be optimistic about. “There are certain things that a president has the constitutional right that the legislative branch cannot impinge upon,” Mr. Holder said, stressing that wiretapping had proven to be a critical intelligence tool. Like Obama, he said he supported the immunity provisions for telecoms as provided for by the Protect America Act of 2007….

Coincidentally, Eric Holder’s confirmation hearing came on the same day that a federal intelligence court released an unprecedented ruling — made last August — that validated the Protect America Act. As Eric Lichtblau wrote in the New York Times: “the decision marks the first time since the disclosure of the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program three years ago that an appellate court has addressed the constitutionality of the federal government’s wiretapping powers. In validating the government’s wide authority to collect foreign intelligence, it may offer legal credence to the Bush administration’s repeated assertions that the president has the power to act without specific court approval in ordering national security eavesdropping that may involve Americans.”