Lawless National Security Letters
America is on a fast track to tyranny.
by Stephen Lendman
American freedom always was weak. It's now on life support. Numerous police state laws followed 9/11. Rights most people take for granted are on the chopping block for elimination.
Big Brother spying alone eroded them. It's ongoing lawlessly in many forms.
So-called National Security Letters (NSLs) is one example. Most people never heard of them. Many are victims without knowing it. Those aware are gagged from discussing them. More on that below.
NSLs have been around since the mid-1980s. They involve abusive police state intrusions. Pre-9/11, they had more limited authority to secure records and other personal information on alleged terrorists and spies.
The USA Patriot Act's Section 505 changed things. It permits expanded FBI's authority to obtain personal customer records from ISPs, financial institutions, credit companies, and other sources without prior court approval.
At issue only is claiming information sought relates to alleged terrorism or espionage investigations. No proof is required.
Innocent people are targeted. Virtually anything in public or private records can be obtained. Gag orders prevent targeted individuals or groups from revealing the information demanded. NSL use continues increasing exponentially.
Between 2003 and 2006 alone, the DOJ's inspector general reported nearly 200,000 NSLs issued. By now, they may exceed a million. Using them violates constitutional freedoms. They've eroded enormously en route to disappearing altogether.
Full-blown tyranny is one more state-sponsored 9/11 type attack away. It could come any time.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) calls NSLs "one of the most frightening and invasive" police state laws. The FBI's abuse of power already is legendary.
It's operated extrajudicially for decades. It does so with impunity. Giving them more powers compounds America's total surveillance society.
EFF calls NSLs unconstitutional. They're vehicles for institutionalizing abuse. In March 2007, the Justice Department inspector general published a report confirming extensive misuse of authority. An internal FBI audit confirmed it.
At the same time, Attorney General Guidelines and internal FBI documents claimed no criminal laws were broken.