Wednesday, May 17, 2006

National Security Letters: Reporters And Leaks Targeted, No Judicial Oversight Required

It just keeps getting more frustrating for people trying to pin the administration down on this. ABC news is reporting that the Justice Department "sought phone records and other documents of 3,501 people last year under a provision of the Patriot Act that does not require judicial oversight." If you're going to complain about this and accuse the Administration of fascism, make sure you hold everyone who supported the Patriot Act accountable, too. (A link to the House's voting record on this would be appreciated).

The best part of this article is the fact that ABC reporters were apparently targeted in this operation "in an attempt to learn confidential sources who may have provided classified information in violation of the law." People are going to flip about this, but it's entirely possible that the people leaking information (and misinformation) to the press are moles or enemy operatives in high positions. Either way, I'd think that plugging said (illegal) leaks would be a high national security priority. At the same time, it's in everyone's interest that legitimate, responsible sources, especially those exposing actual governmental abuse, are protected. The nuances of that task might be lost in the wide license granted by the Patriot Act, but you can thank these people for that.

ABC notes that "the FBI says its request for reporters' phone records are made in compliance with the law." People who haven't been paying attention will find that hard truth especially vexing. Judicial oversight is not required by the law, which uses National Security Letters to authorize targeting. It's legal because the same politicians now crying foul made it legal. Congressional dog still being wagged.

All the protesters-come-lately suddenly miffed about privacy and governmental scope were probably also sleeping two years ago when Uncle Sam decided he wanted to keep an eye on what you're reading. You better be good, for goodness sake.


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