Mark Gritter (markgritter) wrote,
Mark Gritter
markgritter

MN Senators Disappoint on Civil Liberties, Again

"National Security Letters" are a form of warrantless search. The FBI may demand records from entities as diverse as banks, Internet Service Providers, gun stores, libraries, or credit-rating agencies. They may also issue a gag order preventing the recipient from telling you about this invasion of your privacy. According to the ACLU, "Since the Patriot Act was authorized in 2001, further relaxing restrictions on the FBI's use of the power, the number of NSLs issued has seen an astronomical increase. The Justice Department's Inspector General has reported that between 2003 and 2006, the FBI issued nearly 200,000 NSLs. The Inspector General has also found serious FBI abuses of the NSL power."

This is not merely a theoretical abuse of power; it's one to which the FBI itself has admitted.

So, Senator Durbin of Illinois introduced an amendment to the current FISA renewal act which would restrict the issuing of NSLs. The FBI would have to show that the records sought either (1) pertain to a foreign power, (2) are relevant to a suspected agent of a foreign power, or (3) pertain to an individual in contact with or known to a suspected agent of a foreign power. (Still no requirement to go to a court before conducting the 'search', though.)

Both Klobuchar and Franken voted against this amendment (HEN09A07). And according to the same source, Klobuchar appeared confused, first proclaiming her support for the language of the amendment and then voting against it.
Tags: minnesota, politics
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