EFF: "In an unprecedented win for transparency, yesterday Google began publishing generalized information about the number of National Security Letters that the company received in the past year as well as the total number of user accounts affected by those requests. Of all the dangerous government surveillance powers that were expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act, the National Security Letter (NSL) power provided by five statutory provisions is one of the most frightening and invasive. These letters--the type served on communications service providers such as phone companies and ISPs and are authorized by 18 U.S.C. 2709--allow the FBI to secretly demand data about ordinary American citizens' private communications and Internet activity without any prior judicial review. To make matters worse, recipients of NSLs are subject to gag orders that forbid them from ever revealing the letters' existence to anyone."
Ars Technica: "As the result of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Department of Justice has revealed, for the first time, the types of secret letters that the government can send out to ISPs and other tech companies being asked to reveal personal data about their users and customers who are being investigated for national security reasons. In 2009, over 6,000 Americans received such National Security Letters (NSLs). According to the Wall Street Journal, the “letters show that the FBI is now informing people who receive the letters how they can challenge the documents in court. But some key elements of the letters remain blocked from view—including lists of material the FBI says companies can send in response to the letter.”
News release: "The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the Department of Justice (DOJ) today for answers about "secret interpretations" of the USA PATRIOT Act, signed into law ten years ago today. Several senators have warned that the DOJ is using Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to support what government attorneys call a "sensitive collection program" that may be targeting large numbers of Americans. Section 215 allows for secret court orders to obtain "tangible things" when the FBI certifies they are relevant to a government investigation. The list of possible "tangible things" the government can obtain is seemingly limitless, and could include everything from driver's license records to Internet browsing patterns. Section 215 also limits the court's discretion to deny the order and prevents the recipient of an order from disclosing its existence."
RollCall: "After two days of wrangling and last-minute deal-making in the Senate, Congress cleared a reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act on Thursday, and the Obama administration announced that the president signed the bill into law before provisions of the anti-terrorism act expired at midnight. A standoff over amendments in the Senate ate into the time needed to fly the enrolled bill to President Barack Obama, who is traveling in Europe. Instead of physically signing the bill, Obama planned to direct the use of an autopen to sign it, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said in an email shortly after the House cleared the bill. “Failure to sign this legislation poses a significant risk to U.S. national security,” Shapiro said in the email. Autopens generate a facsimile of an individual’s signature and are frequently used by Members of Congress for signing constituent correspondence and other letters. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel advised in 2005 that the president may sign a bill by autopen."
"This report, Ordinary Measures, Extraordinary Results: An Assessment of Foiled Plots Since 9/11, analyzes 32 attacks that were thwarted since 9/11 to determine which factors led to the plots’ successful disruption. The report finds that in the majority of cases, traditional law enforcement techniques and methods developed prior to 9/11, direct and indirect action by concerned citizens, and international law enforcement cooperation contributed significantly to identifying terrorists and preventing attacks. It also finds that post-9/11 legislation and methods were instrumental in disrupting terror plots in only a relatively small number of cases."
Follow up to previous postings on the Domestic Surveillance Program, via EFF, Kevin Bankston: "Today, Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the federal district court in San Francisco found that the government illegally wiretapped an Islamic charity's phone calls in 2004, granting summary judgment for the plaintiffs in Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Obama. The court held the government liable for violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Today's order is the first decision since ACLU v. NSA to hold that warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency was illegal. The decision in ACLU v. NSA was overturned on other grounds in 2007, and the focus of the government's litigation strategy since then has been to avoid having any court rule on the merits of the issue. The court's thorough decision is a strong rebuke to the government's argument that only the Executive Branch may determine if a case against the government can proceed in the courts, by invoking state secrets. The Obama Administration adopted this "state secrets privilege" theory from the Bush Administration's legal positions in this and other warrantless wiretapping cases."
Related postings on Patriot Act and this recent CRS report: Government Collection of Private Information: Background and Issues Related to the USA PATRIOT Act Reauthorization to accompany the following news and documents:
Follow up to previous postings on the Bush Administration Torture Memos, significant new documents were made public by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr., who posted the following document library on February 19, 2010: DOJ Report on Bush Administration Interrogation Memos and Related Documents [note: several of these documents are redacted]
ACLU: "The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the USA PATRIOT Act Extension Act of 2009 [October 9, 2009], a bill which falls far short of restoring the necessary civil liberties protections lacking in the original Patriot Act. The bill, passed by the committee after two sessions of debate, makes only minor changes to the disastrous Patriot Act and was further watered down by amendments adopted during markup. The American Civil Liberties Union had endorsed the JUSTICE Act, an alternative bill that would heavily reform not only the Patriot Act but other overly broad surveillance laws."
News release and Fact Sheet: "U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have introduced legislation to fix problems with surveillance laws that threaten the rights and liberties of American citizens. The Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools In Counterterrorism Efforts (JUSTICE) Act would reform the USA PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendments Act and other surveillance authorities to protect Americans’ constitutional rights, while preserving the powers of our government to fight terrorism. The JUSTICE Act reforms include more effective checks on government searches of Americans’ personal records, the “sneak and peek” search provision of the PATRIOT Act, “John Doe” roving wiretaps and other overbroad authorities. The bill will also reform the FISA Amendments Act, passed last year, by repealing the retroactive immunity provision, preventing “bulk collection” of the contents of Americans’ international communications, and prohibiting “reverse targeting” of innocent Americans. And the bill enables better oversight of the use of National Security Letters (NSLs) after the Department of Justice Inspector General issued reports detailing the misuse and abuse of the NSLs. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, September 23rd, on reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act."
U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Report to Congress on Implementation of Section 1001 of the USA PATRIOT Act (as required by Section 1001(3) of Public Law 107-56), August, 2009.
EPIC: "Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are drafting legislative reforms to revise the USA PATRIOT Act. The USA PATRIOT Act allows authorities to conduct surveillance without judicial review through the use of National Security Letters. The Senators asked the Attorney General and the Chairmen of the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committee to consider two previous bills that add protections to PATRIOT ACT. Pursuant to a EPIC lawsuit, a federal judge had ordered the Justice Department to provide for independent judicial inspection of documents relating to warrantless wiretapping. For more information, see EPIC USA PATRIOT Act, EPIC FISA, EPIC Wiretapping, and EPIC National Security Letters."
News release: "The American Civil Liberties Union released a comprehensive report today examining widespread abuses that have occurred under the USA Patriot Act, a law that was rushed through Congress just 45 days after September 11. In the almost eight years since the passage of the controversial national security law, the Patriot Act has led to egregious government misconduct."
White House Fact Sheet: Transforming Our Armed Forces To Face The Threats Of Today And Tomorrow - Following the attacks of 9/11, President Bush strengthened and reshaped our approach to national security. To harden our defense, President Bush: Created the Department of Homeland Security; Provided national security professionals with vital new tools like the Patriot Act and a program to monitor terrorist communications; Reorganized the intelligence community to better meet the needs of the war on terror; Deployed aggressive financial measures to freeze terrorist assets; and Launched diplomatic initiatives to pressure adversaries and attract new partners to our cause."
DOJ: Special Report to Congress on Implementation of Section 1001 of the USA PATRIOT Act, August 2008: "Section 1001 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Patriot Act), Public Law 107-56, directs the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ or Department) to undertake a series of actions related to claims of civil rights or civil liberties violations allegedly committed by DOJ employees. It also requires the OIG to provide semiannual reports to Congress on the implementation of the OIG’s responsibilities under Section 1001. This report – the thirteenth since enactment of the legislation in October 2001 – summarizes the OIG’s Section 1001-related activities from January 1, 2008, through June 30, 2008."
News release: "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking suggestions from the public on how it can increase its level of openness related to security at nuclear power plants and certain other facilities while still protecting sensitive information. A summary of the feedback will be posted on the NRC’s Web site, provided to the Commission and considered in the development of new openness policies.
After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the Commission implemented a new policy of withholding certain information. Some information previously available to the public was withheld and new information, such as certain orders to NRC licensees on security measures, was designated as classified, safeguards information or sensitive unclassified information and withheld from the public.
In 2007, the NRC began redacting and releasing many of the safety documents previously withheld, and the agency is interested in taking additional action regarding security-related inspection and license performance information. Under consideration are several approaches, including adding more detail to an annual report to Congress on security oversight and to the cover letters for security inspection reports, and by making more information available on the NRC Web site."
Related postings on Disappearing Docs. From Gov't Websites
Commentary: Immunity for Telecom Eavesdropping - Beth Wellington's commentary tracks the legislative path of retroactive immunity for telecom eavesdropping. Published July 30, 2008.
CDT Policy Post 14.5: National Security Letters: "Widespread errors in the use of National Security Letters requires legislative action, says a Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) paper released today. The documents are used by the FBI when seeking records containing sensitive personal information. Successive Inspector General reports have uncovered abuses and mistakes by the FBI in issuing the NSLs. The CDT Policy Post says that FBI self-policing doesn't work. CDT believes there should be a more exacting standard for issuing NSLs and that prior judicial authorization should be required when sensitive personal information is sought."
News release: "The FBI has withdrawn an unconstitutional national security letter (NSL) issued to the Internet Archive after a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). As the result of a settlement agreement, the FBI withdrew the NSL and agreed to the unsealing of the case, finally allowing the Archive's founder to speak out for the first time about his battle against the record demand...The NSL was served on the Archive -- a digital library recognized by the state of California -- and its attorneys in November of 2007. The letter asked for personal information about one of the Archive's users, including the individual's name, address, and any electronic communication transactional records pertaining to the user. Kahle, who is also a member of EFF's Board of Directors, decided to fight the NSL because it exceeded the FBI's limited authority to issue such demands to libraries."
US Courts: "The number of intercepted wire, oral or electronic communications — also known as wiretaps — authorized by federal and state courts in 2007 was 20 percent higher than in 2006. Courts issued 2,208 such orders in 2007, compared to 1,839 in 2006, according to The 2007 Wiretap Report.
The complete report contains information on interceptions concluded between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2007. A summary of the authorized intercepts reported for calendar years 1997-2007 is available in Table 7."
EPIC: "According to the 2007 FISA report, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved 2,370 application to conduct electronic surveillance and physical searches in the United States in 2007, up from 2,176 applications approved in 2006. For the first time, the report includes information regarding the total number of requests made by the Department of Justice with National Security Letter authority for information concerning U.S. persons. in 2006, the government made approximately 12,583 NSL requests for information concerning 4,790 U.S. persons. The 2007 NSL statistics are expected later this year."
Statement of Glenn A. Fine, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice before the House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties concerning “The FBI’s Use of National Security Letters and Section 215 Orders for Business Records”, April 15, 2008.
Department of Justice Office of Inspector General: A Review of the FBI’s Use of National Security Letters: Assessment of Corrective Actions and Examination of NSL Usage in 2006, March 2008, Unclassified, (187 pages, PDF)
Department of Justice Office of Inspector General: A Review of the FBI’s Use of Section 215 Orders for Business Records in 2006, March 2008, Unclassified (99 pages, PDF)
Follow up to previous postings on TSA's Total Information Awareness surveillance program, this news release today from the ACLU: "...According to the new Wall Street Journal report [subscription req'd], the NSA was engaging in broad domestic spying operations that involve collecting and analyzing the personal information of Americans in ways that are "essentially the same" as TIA. The elements that reportedly make up the new spying encompass a variety of mass surveillance and data mining programs about which the ACLU has previously warned..."
Electronic Frontier Foundation: "Three powerful House Commerce Committee Chairmen strongly urged their colleagues Thursday to defer acting on requests for retroactive immunity and to demand more information from the White House and the telecommunications companies in the wake of disclosures by another whistleblower that the government apparently has been granted an open gateway to customer information and calls by a major telecommunications company."
Press release: "Late Tuesday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) won the speedy release of telecom lobbying records from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). The agency was ordered to comply with a new December 10 deadline -- in time for the documents to play a role in the congressional debate over granting amnesty for telecommunications companies taking part in illegal electronic surveillance. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston vacates a hearing on the matter previously scheduled for Friday."
AP: "Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguard people's private communications and financial information...Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation...said Kerr ignores the distinction between sacrificing protection from an intrusive government and voluntarily disclosing information in exchange for a service."
Press release: "A federal judge today ruled on a preservation motion filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), ordering that telecommunications companies must preserve any evidence of collaborating with the government in illegal spying on ordinary Americans. In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ordered the telecommunications companies to halt any routine destruction of documents or to arrange for the preservation of accurate copies. On December 14, each party must provide the court with confirmation that the court's order has been carried out. The court order did not require the government or the carriers to reveal whether or not they had any relevant evidence."
Press release, October 18, 2007: "Senator Jay Rockefeller and Senator Kit Bond, Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee...announced that the Senate Intelligence Committee passed legislation to modernize FISA. The bill, which passed by a strong bipartisan vote, will improve the recently enacted Protect America Act that aimed to fix collection problems related to foreign intelligence surveillance."
Press release: "Three telecommunications companies have provided responses to inquiries by the Committee on Energy and Commerce about their involvement with the National Security Agency warrantless wiretapping program. On October 2, Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, sent letters to AT&T, Verizon and Qwest, requesting that the telecommunications companies provide details on the reported efforts by government agencies to obtain information about customers’ telephone and Internet use."
Press release: "Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) introduced The Responsible Electronic Surveillance that is Overseen, Reviewed, and Effective Act of 2007 – the RESTORE Act,in an effort to address concerns about civil liberty protections in the hastily-enacted Protect America Act that was signed into law in early August. The RESTORE ACT restores court oversight of intelligence gathering by requiring that electronic surveillance programs be approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court, mandating that FISA warrants be obtained when the government wants to undertake surveillance of persons in the US, and authorizing continued oversight of programs by the Court, Congress, and independent auditors."
EFF: "Today, Judge Ann Aiken of the Oregon Federal District Court ruled that two provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), "50 U.S.C. §§ 1804 and 1823, as amended by the Patriot Act, are unconstitutional because they violate the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution."
House Judiciary Committee Hearing on Warrantless Surveillance and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: The Role of Checks and Balances in Protecting Americans’ Privacy Rights (Part II). Statements of Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence and Kenneth Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, United States Department of Justice.
ACLU press release: "A federal court today struck down the amended Patriot Act's National Security Letter (NSL) provision. The law has permitted the FBI to issue NSLs demanding private information about people within the United States without court approval, and to gag those who receive NSLs from discussing them. The court found that the gag power was unconstitutional and that because the statute prevented courts from engaging in meaningful judicial review of gags, it violated the First Amendment and the principle of separation of powers."
The Wall Street Journal today reported that House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff stating the intention to conduct careful oversight over the fall 2007 launch of the National Applications Office (NAO). This program's use of "spy satellites for domestic homeland security and law enforcement purposes" has raised civil liberties and privacy issues.
Press release: "DoD’s Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) will close the TALON Reporting System effective Sept. 17, 2007, and maintain a record copy of the collected data in accordance with intelligence oversight requirements. To ensure there is a mechanism in place to document and assess potential threats to DoD resources, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs will propose a system to streamline such threat reporting and better meet the Defense department’s needs."
Follow up to August 20, 2007 posting, White House Fails to Comply With Subpoenas on Domestic Surveillance Program - additional related government documents and news:
Follow up to previous posting on the government's domestic surveillance program, today's Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On The Bush Administration’s Failure To Comply With Subpoenas For Warrantless Wiretapping Documents, August 20, 2007: "Today was the deadline for the Administration to comply with the Judiciary Committee’s subpoenas for documents related to the legal justifications for and President’s authorization of the warrantless wiretapping program. The Administration failed to adequately comply, despite our granting an extension of more than a month past the original return date. The Administration has produced no documents, no adequate basis for noncompliance, no privilege claims, and no complete privilege log."
Related news and government documents:
The plaintiffs in Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Inc. v. Bush are an Oregon branch of a Saudi charity that has been investigated for alleged terrorist ties. They argue that they have a top-secret document proving they were a direct target of National Security Agency surveillance.
Hepting v. AT&T is a class action on behalf of a group of AT&T customers who allege that the company intercepted their phone calls and electronic mail, then disclosed the information to the NSA."
WSJ: "The U.S.'s top intelligence official has greatly expanded the range of federal and local authorities who can get access to information from the nation's vast network of spy satellites in the U.S. The decision, made three months ago by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell, places for the first time some of the U.S.'s most powerful intelligence-gathering tools at the disposal of domestic security officials. The move was authorized in a May 25 memo sent to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff asking his department to facilitate access to the spy network on behalf of civilian agencies and law enforcement."
Follow-up to August 6, 2007 posting - Questions and Answers on the Protect America Act of 2007 - today's related press release on the bill President Bush signed into law on August 5, 2007: "U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) yesterday asked for and received a letter from Admiral Mike McConnell [text of which is included in this release], Director of National Intelligence, detailing assurances he made to Senators on Friday evening that temporary modifications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act will not infringe on the rights of Americans."
Follow-up to August 5, 2007 posting - Bill to Amend Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Ready for President's Signature - today's FAQ: How far does the new wiretap law go? by Declan McCullagh - "Over strong objections from civil liberties groups and many Democrats, legislators voted over the weekend to temporarily rewrite a 1978 wiretapping law that the Bush administration claimed was hindering antiterrorism investigations."
Related government documents:
Report to Congress on Implementation of Section 1001 of the USA PATRIOT Act (as required by Section 1001(3) of Public Law 107-56), Special Report, August 3, 2007- Office of the Inspector General [PDF or HTML]
Bill Moyers Journal, July 13, 2007: "Bill Moyers gets perspective on the role of impeachment in American political life from Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who wrote the first article of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, and THE NATION's John Nichols, author of THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT."
Press release: "The United States has faced an unprecedented rise in government secrecy over the last six years, according to a report released today by OpenTheGovernment.org and People For the American Way Foundation. Government Secrecy: Decisions Without Democracy 2007 (52 pages, PDF) documents how executive power has dramatically expanded while executive accountability has diminished."
Follow up to previous postings on domestic surveillance programs, news today that 6th Circuit found none of the plaintiff's had standing against the NSA with regard to the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP). See the ACLU press release: "In a 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals today dismissed a legal challenge to the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program. The challenge was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of prominent journalists, scholars, attorneys and national nonprofit organizations who say that the unchecked surveillance program is disrupting their ability to communicate effectively with sources and clients."
Follow up to previous postings on Connecticut librarians and FBI NSL gag order, via Wired Blog, Librarians Describe Life Under An FBI Gag Order: "Two Connecticut librarians on Sunday [at the 2007 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC] described what it was like to be slapped with an FBI national security letter and accompanying gag order."
WashingtonPost.com: "Over the past six years, Cheney has shaped his times as no vice president has before. This...four-part series...explores his methods and impact, drawing on interviews with more than 200 men and women who worked for, with or in opposition to Cheney's office. Many of those interviewed recounted events that have not been made public until now, sharing notes,e-mails, personal calendars and other records of their interaction with Cheney and his senior staff. The vice president declined to be interviewed."
Press release: "The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), which created the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (Board), requires that "[n]ot less frequently than annually, the Board shall prepare a report to Congress, unclassified to the greatest extent possible...on the Board's major activities during the preceding period." This report discusses the Board’s activities from its first meeting on March 14, 2006, at which the Members were sworn in and an Executive Director was appointed, through March 1, 2007. This report contains no classified information."
"Following 9/11, the U.S. government adopted some controversial new tactics intended to prevent future terrorist attacks, including warrantless eavesdropping on Americans' phone calls, secret demands for records under the Patriot Act, and FBI sting operations against people thought to be potential terrorists. The Bush Administration contends these tactics have helped to save American lives, but critics say they have severely damaged our individual liberties. Three stories illustrate the issues of security and liberty: In a Public Library / At the National Security Agency / An FBI sting operation. SECURITY VERSUS LIBERTY explores this urgent national debate by talking with leading critics and advocates of the new policies, and telling the stories of people whose lives have been directly affected. If the war against terror is truly the long struggle our leaders say it will be, then so too will be the struggle to set the right balance between security and liberty. This program provides valuable information that will help Americans come to grips with the difficult choices we face."
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights, hearing - Responding to The Inspector General's Findings of Improper Use of National Security Letters by the FBI, April 11, 2007.
Via American Library Association Washington Office Newsline:
"George Christian, Executive Director of the Library Connection and former plaintiff in John Doe v. Gonzales, testified today (April 11, 2007) before a Senate Subcommittee on the harmful effects of receiving a National Security Letter (NSL), a component of the USA PATRIOT Act, from the FBI. Library Connection is a non-profit cooperative of 27 libraries in Connecticut. In 2005, the group received an NSL from the FBI, along with its accompanying perpetual gag order, demanding library records...Library Connection challenged the constitutionality of the NSL and its perpetual gag and eventually the FBI withdrew its appeal to keep their identities hidden after Federal District Court Judge Janet C. Hall declared the gag order unconstitutional. Christian, spoke on behalf of himself and three others...“Ours is a cautionary story that we hope will provoke serious thought. Though our gag order was lifted, several hundred thousand other recipients of National Security Letters must carry the secret of their experience with NSLs to their graves,” Christian remarked in his opening statement and further added, “When the USA PATRIOT Act was signed into law, our Connecticut library community, like the American Library Association and many other librarians, were concerned about the lack of judicial oversight as well as the secrecy associated with a number of the Act’s provisions and the NSLs in particular.” Christian asked Congress “to take special note of the uses and abuses of NSLs, in libraries and bookstores and other places where higher First Amendment standards should be considered,” and “to reconsider parts of the USA PATRIOT Act and in particular, the NSL powers that can needlessly subject innocent people to fishing expeditions of their personal information with no judicial review. Because of the gag order, you, our Senators and elected representatives and the American public, are denied access to the stories and information about these abuses. This is information you need to conduct oversight, work for appropriate changes to current law and seek to protect our constitutional rights.”
Politicizing National Security, by Aziz Huq, April 4, 2007: "Aziz Huq directs the Liberty and National Security Project at the Brennan Center for Justice. He is co-author of Unchecked and Unbalanced: Presidential Power in Times of Terror, and recipient of a 2006 Carnegie Scholars Fellowship." Mr. Huq focuses on three recent issues to highlight his thesis: the firings of U.S. Attorneys, the misuse of National Security Letters, and DOJ OIG Fine's recent audit of terrorism prosecutions.
Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, March 28, 2007
Press release: "U.S. Senate legislation to implement unfinished recommendations of the 9/11 commission includes a bipartisan amendment to declassify the Executive Summary of the CIA Inspector General’s Report on 9/11. The CIA report is the only major 9/11 government review that has not been made public, a fact that the Vice Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Kit Bond (R-MO) and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), a senior member of the Intelligence Committee, have spent more than a year working to correct."
Follow-up to March 8, 2007 posting, DOJ OIG Report Documents FBI Underreporting Use of National Security Letter, this from the ACLU: "Claims that the FBI’s reported Patriot Act abuses were the "unintentional" result of outmoded computer systems and human error are not credible, the American Civil Liberties Union said today, citing evidence that agents contracted with phone companies to obtain customer records and later sought to cover up the illegal requests."
The Blotter (ABC News): "The FBI repeatedly failed to follow the strict guidelines of the Patriot Act when its agents took advantage of a new provision allowing the FBI to obtain phone and financial records without a court order, according to a report to be made public Friday by the Justice Department's Inspector General."
"This rule amends part 0 of title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations to reflect the establishment of the National Security Division at the Department of Justice. The National Security Division was created by section 506 of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 ("the Act"). This rule, which sets forth the Division's organization, mission and functions, amends the Code of Federal Regulations in order to conform the Department's regulations to the Act and to reflect accurately the Department's internal management structure." [Federal Register: March 7, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 44)][Rules and Regulations][Page 10064-10070]
News.com: "The Bush administration has accelerated its Internet surveillance push by proposing that Web sites must keep records of who uploads photographs or videos in case police determine the content is illegal and choose to investigate, CNET News.com has learned. That proposal surfaced Wednesday in a private meeting during which U.S. Department of Justice officials, including Assistant Attorney General Rachel Brand, tried to convince industry representatives such as AOL and Comcast that data retention would be valuable in investigating terrorism...and other crimes...At the very least, the companies would be required to keep logs for police of which customer is assigned a specific Internet address. Only universities and libraries would be excluded, one participant said. "There's a PR concern with including the libraries, so we're not going to include them," the participant quoted the Justice Department as saying. "We know we're going to get a pushback, so we're not going to do that."
Department of Justice OIG Report to Congress on Implementation of Section 1001 of the USA PATRIOT Act, Special Report, March 2007: "Section 1001 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Patriot Act), Public Law 107-56, directs the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ or Department) to undertake a series of actions related to claims of civil rights or civil liberties violations allegedly committed by DOJ employees. It also requires the OIG to provide semiannual reports to Congress on the implementation of the OIG’s responsibilities under Section 1001. This report – the tenth since enactment of the legislation in October 2001 – summarizes the OIG’s Section 1001-related activities from July 1, 2006, through December 31, 2006."
Press release: "The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee [February 8, 2008] approved a measure sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Arlen Specter, Patrick Leahy, and Chuck Schumer that would prevent the circumvention of the Senate's constitutional prerogative to confirm U.S. Attorneys. Under a provision inserted without notice into the USA Patriot Act reauthorization last year, the law was changed so that if a vacancy arises, the Attorney General may appoint a replacement for an indefinite period of time – thus completely avoiding the Senate confirmation process. The legislation approved by the Judiciary Committee...would restore the process in place before 2006. It would allow the Attorney General to appoint interim U.S. Attorney for 120 days. If after that time the President has not sent up a nominee to the Senate and had that nominee confirmed, then the authority to appoint an interim U.S. Attorney would fall to the district court. This was the law from 1986 to 2006. It was proposed by Reagan Administration and authored by Senator Strom Thurmond."
Follow up to January 7, 2007 posting, Presidential Signing Statement for Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act Includes Power to Open Mail, see this press release today: "The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for National Security Studies today filed three Freedom of Information Act requests seeking the immediate release of records related to President Bush's asserted authority to search Americans’ mail without a warrant. The president claimed this unprecedented authority in a "signing statement" attached to a statute that expressly prohibits opening First Class mail without a warrant."
Press release: President's Statement on H.R. 6407, the "Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act", December 20, 2006
Follow-up to a November 7, 2006 posting, Court Grants Appeal in AT&T Spying Case, today, via Wired, "A federal judge in San Francisco declined to decide today whether to unseal documents at the heart of a lawsuit against AT&T for its alleged participation in a warrantless government wiretapping program aimed at Americans' overseas emails and phone calls...Though Wired News independently acquired and published portions of the documents under seal in May, Berenson said the "horse was not out of the barn" and that there were sensitive technical details under seal in documents that total about 120 pages."
The following are available via FAS:
Press release: "Following requests for an investigation of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) warrantless surveillance program from Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), and other House members, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Glenn A. Fine today informed Lofgren and Hinchey that his office has opened a program review of the agency's involvement with the program. Lofgren and Hinchey have led the call for nearly a year for DOJ officials to examine the NSA warrantless surveillance program with Lofgren pushing for Fine to investigate the matter and Hinchey pursuing a probe through the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR)."
Follow-up to previous postings on the SWIFT online financial cooperative network, this November 23, 2006 corporate press release:
September 13, 2006
By Mr. SPECTER, from the Committee on the Judiciary, with an amendment in the nature of a substitute, S. 2453: A bill to establish procedures for the review of electronic surveillance programs.
By Mr. SPECTER, from the Committee on the Judiciary, without amendment: S. 2455. A bill to provide in statute for the conduct of electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists for the purposes of protecting the American people, the Nation, and its interests from terrorist attack while ensuring that the civil liberties of United States citizens are safeguarded, and for other purposes.
By Mr. SPECTER, from the Committee on the Judiciary, with an amendment in the nature of a substitute: S. 3001. A bill to ensure that all electronic surveillance of United States persons for foreign intelligence purposes is conducted pursuant to individualized court-issued orders, to streamline the procedures of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, and for other purposes.
Press release: "The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union announced today that they have returned to court to challenge the constitutionality of the reauthorized Patriot Act's National Security Letter (NSL) provision. The provision permits the FBI to prohibit anyone who receives an NSL from disclosing that the FBI has sought or obtained information from them."
Press release: "A federal judge today denied the government's motion to dismiss the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) case against AT&T for collaborating with the NSA in illegal spying of millions of ordinary Americans. This allows the case to go forward in the
USAToday.com reports that up to eight data mining programs have been deployed by intelligence agencies to mine financial and personal records in an effort to identify potential terrorist activities.
Follow-up to recents postings on FISA that include House Intelligence Hearing on Modernizing FISA and Draft Agreement With White House on Domestic Surveillance Oversight, see this new article on the subject by Edward Lazarus: Why The "Compromise" Foreign Surveillance Wiretap Legislation Pending in Congress Is No Compromise: The Bill, and Senator Specter's Strange Reversal on the Issue
House Intelligence to Hold Open Hearing on Modernizing FISA, July 19, 2006.
Follow-up to postings on terrorist financing programs, the House Committee on Financial Services hearing entitled "The Terror Finance Tracking Program," Tuesday, July 11, 2006.
USAToday.com follow's up on news about the FBI dropping demands for Connecticut library patron records with this article on the expansive post 9/11 use of National Security Letters to obtain private data from a range of organizations.
A resolution to the case involving Connecticut librarians and an FBI NSL gag order regarding patron records - today the ACLU announced the FBI has dropped the case.
Following up on Domestic Call Records Mined for Expansive Pentagon Database Program, today's passage by the House Judiciary Committee, voice vote, on H.Res. 819, "Requesting the President and directing the Attorney General to submit to the House of Representatives all documents in the possession of the President and the Attorney General relating to requests made by the National Security Agency and other Federal agencies to telephone service providers requesting access to telephone communications records of persons in the United States and communications originating and terminating within the United States without a warrant".
Related links and news:
Arguments by the DOJ (Anthony J. Coppolino) and the ACLU were heard today in U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Michigan. The government maintains that the domestic surveillance program is legal.
CDT: "A federal appeals court today ruled 2-1 that telephone regulators and the FBI can control the design of Internet services in order to make government wiretapping easier. The decision (29 pages, PDF), which is damaging both to civil liberties and technology innovation, came in a case in which CDT joined with a coalition of universities, libraries, public interest groups and Internet companies to oppose an August 2005 ruling by the Federal Communications Commission. In that ruling, the FCC extended to the Internet the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), a law Congress intended to apply only to the telephone network."
Follow-up to postings on the government phone surveillance program, USAToday.com reported that Senate Judicary Chair Arlen Specter cancelled hearings that would have scrutinized the extent to which phone companies provided customer records to the NSA.
Related Congressional news:
Following up on previous postings about Connecticut librarians gagged by the FBI's use of the National Security Letter provision of the Patriot Act, news from an ACLU press conference on the identity of the librarians and their respective statements as follows:
Justice Department Probe Foiled, by Shane Harris and Murray Waas, National Journal: "An internal Justice Department inquiry into whether department officials -- including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft -- acted properly in approving and overseeing the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping program was stymied because investigators were denied security clearances to do their work. The investigators, however, were only seeking information and documents relating to the National Security Agency's surveillance program that were already in the Justice Department's possession, two senior government officials said in interviews."
Related legal documents, commentary, opinion and postings:
Press release, May 24, 2006: "U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) today introduced legislation (22 pages, PDF) that would reaffirm that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is the exclusive means by which our government can conduct electronic surveillance of U.S. persons on U.S. soil for foreign intelligence purposes."
CRS Report, Government Access to Phone Calling Activity and Related Records: Legal Authorities, May 17, 2006 (19 pages, PDF)
May 17, 2006: Report on the Progress of the DNI in Implementing the "Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004" (12 pages, PDF)
Senate Intelligence Committee Open Hearing: Confirmation Hearing of General Michael V. Hayden to be the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, May 18, 2006.
LA Times: The Fine Art of Legislation Appellation - "If you want your bill to be noticed, a snappy acronym beats S. 1955 any old time."
Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing on FBI Oversight, May 2, 2006.
Follow-up to April 28, 2006 posting, FBI Used NSLs to Collect Info on Thousands of Americans, the following related documents from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts:
Boston Globe: Bush challenges hundreds of laws:"President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution."
AP: "The FBI secretly sought information last year on 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents from their banks and credit card, telephone and Internet companies without a court's approval..."
AP reports that Sen. Specter Threatens to Block NSA Funds.
From ALA, this guide to 2005-2006 Congressional PATRIOT Act Votes and Library Funding Support, which includes "a record of how your Members of Congress voted for the PATRIOT Act reauthorization and for funding for libraries. Please refer to their voting record when you meet with them during National Library Legislative Day."
Follow-up to previous postings on a Connecticut library oranization that was the target of a National Security Letter gag ordered, today the New York Times reported, Librarians Win as U.S. Relents on Secrecy Law: "After fighting ferociously for months, federal prosecutors relented yesterday and agreed to allow a Connecticut library group to identify itself as the recipient of a secret F.B.I. demand for records in a counterterrorism investigation."
Report to Congress on Implementation of Section 1001 of the USA PATRIOT Act, Special Report, March 2006 (32 oages, PDF).
USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005: A Legal Analysis (74 pages, PDF): "This report describes the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 (the Act) and, where appropriate, discusses the modifications to law made by the USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006."
An Examination of the Call to Censure the President, Senate Judiciary Committee, Full Committee, March 31, 2006
Follow-up to yesterday's posting, Judiciary Cmte. Holds Hearing on NSA Wiretapping, in today's New York Times, Judges on Secretive Panel Speak Out on Spy Program.
Hearing - NSA III: War Time Executive Power and the FISA Court, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Tuesday, March 28, 2006.
The ACLU posted a copy of an abridged legal statement from a second individual identified as a target of a National Security Letter, by which the FBI concurrently gags the recipient and his/her counsel while requiring the provision of demanded documentation.
Following up on previous postings concerning the FBI's use of National Security Letters to obtain library patron records, the New York Times reports today, Librarian Is Still John Doe, Despite Patriot Act Revision
CDT: "The House approved a PATRIOT Act renewal bill on Tuesday that lacks meaningful privacy and civil liberties reforms. The Senate passed the bill last week. The bill will now go to President Bush for his signature. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, who voted to renew the PATRIOT Act last week but vowed to continue fighting for reforms, co-sponsored a bill this week (S. 2369) with other Republican and Democratic Senators that contains the civil liberties protections that Congress failed to pass. CDT will urge other members to support Specter's bill."
National Journal: Defense Attorney, March 3, 2006.
Follow-up to Patriot Act Reauthorization Passed by Senate, from the Christian Science Monitor today, How the Patriot Act came in from the cold - The addition of new civil liberties protections made the Patriot Act's final lurch toward passage possible.
The vote was 89-10, with the following senators voting against the reauthorization: Sen. Akaka (D-HI); Sen. Bingaman (D-NM); Sen. Byrd (D-WV; Sen. Feingold (D-WI); Sen. Harkin (D-IA); Sen. Jeffords (I-VT); Sen. Leahy (D-VT); Sen. Levin (D-MI); Sen. Murray (D-WA) and Sen. Wyden (D-OR).
CRS Report: USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006 (S. 2271) - "S. 22711 amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the five federal statutes providing national security letter (NSL) authority to federal intelligence investigators in the following manner: (1) it grants recipients of a Section 215 order the express right to petition a FISA judge to modify or quash the nondisclosure requirement that accompanies such an order; (2) it removes the requirement that recipients of Section 215 orders or recipients of NSLs must provide the FBI or the authorized government authority with the name of the attorney they consulted to obtain legal advice concerning the production order or the NSL; and (3) it clarifies that libraries, the services of which include offering patrons access to the Internet, are not subject to NSLs, unless they are functioning as electronic communication service providers."
National Security Archives press release: "Under pressure from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the Justice Department on February 10 conceded in federal court that it could begin releasing as early as March 3 the internal legal memos relied on by the Bush administration in setting up the controversial National Security Agency warrantless wiretapping program. The National Security Archive, along with the American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU"), this week joined the Electronic Privacy Information Center in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Justice seeking to compel the immediate disclosure of the internal legal justifications for the surveillance program. The filing this week by the Archive and the ACLU was consolidated with a suit filed on January 19, 2006, by the Electronic Privacy Information Center ("EPIC") that requested the federal court in Washington to issue a preliminary injunction requiring the release of relevant documents within 20 days-which Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. considered at a formal hearing today."
Follow-up to Agreement Reached on Patriot Act Reauthorization:
Press release: "Republican Senators John Sununu (R-NH), Larry Craig (R-ID), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) (on 2/9) announced they have reached agreement with the White House regarding the reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act. The package includes modifications to the Conference Report in three specific areas to better protect civil liberties while still providing law enforcement with expanded tools to conduct terrorism investigations.
Yesterday's posting, Judiciary Cmte. Requests Extensive Info On Domestic Spying Program From Attorney General, relied heavily on links to the Washington Post, and for good reason. The newspaper's investigative reporting on the domestic spying issue has been picking up steam, with yet another must read article in today's issue, Secret Court's Judges Were Warned About NSA Spy Data - Program May Have Led Improperly to Warrants. After registering to read the article, be sure to also read this CRS Memo to Senate Cmte. on Intelligence Describes Probable Cause, and refer to related postings on domestic surveillance. The ramifications of this body of government documents and related expert commentary makes one wonder when it will all reach critical mass.
Following up on AG Gonzales Testimony to Judiciary Cmte. Generates Strong Response, news today about Congressional requests for additional information on the NSA spy program: Press release: "House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) today sent a Judiciary Committee oversight letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales requesting extensive answers about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) terrorist surveillance program. The 14-page oversight letter requests that the Attorney General respond to the 51 questions by March 2nd. Chairman Sensenbrenner stated, "Questions have been raised about the President's authority to establish the NSA's terrorist surveillance program, which was created to protect Americans against a dangerous enemy intent upon using any means possible to destroy Americans and the freedoms we cherish. Fulfillment of Congress's oversight responsibility about this program no doubt will involve highly classified information that cannot be publicly released without harming national security. Nonetheless, I'm confident the unclassified responses to these questions will both assist the Committee's oversight efforts and better inform the people that the program is designed to protect."
Related resources and references:
H.R. 4659/P.L. 109-170 - To amend the USA PATRIOT ACT to extend the sunset of certain provisions of such Act. (Feb. 3, 2006; 120 Stat. 3; 1 page).
"Wartime Executive Power and the NSA's Surveillance Authority"
Senate Judiciary Committee Full Committee, February 6, 2006 [Note: according to video and the transcript of the testimony, GOP Senators voted not to have Gonzales sworn in.]
New York Times editorial, January 29, 2006, Spies, Lies and Wiretaps: "A bit over a week ago, President Bush and his men promised to provide the legal, constitutional and moral justifications for the sort of warrantless spying on Americans that has been illegal for nearly 30 years. Instead, we got the familiar mix of political spin, clumsy historical misinformation, contemptuous dismissals of civil liberties concerns, cynical attempts to paint dissents as anti-American and pro-terrorist, and a couple of big, dangerous lies."
New York Times: Bush Presses On in Legal Defense for Wiretapping
Press release: "The Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee Friday sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales seeking information relating to the Bush Administration's domestic spying program in preparation for the panel’s Feb. 6 hearing on the program's legality. The senators are seeking documents and correspondence from the days immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Bush Administration has claimed it was justified in conducting an illegal and covert spying program for four years because of a resolution Congress passed in 2001 authorizing the use of military force."
This New York Times essay, A Growing Web of Watchers Builds a Surveillance Society, by David Shenk, offers especially cautionary insight in light of the growing public and political response to revelations about the government's domestic surveillance program.
In advance of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing on Wartime Executive Power and the NSA's Surveillance Authority, February 6, 2006, the Committee's Republican Chairman, Arlen Specter, sent a letter on January 24, 2006, to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, listing 15 questions for which he expected detailed responses. The following questions are in the letter:
Press release: "Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., on Friday introduced a resolution setting the record straight that Congress did not authorize President Bush's illegal spying program when it passed a 2001 resolution governing the use of military force in the war on terror."
American Libraries Online, January 13, 2006: "The American Library Association's Executive Board intends to file a Freedom of Information Act request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine if the FBI has been collecting information on the Association and its leaders as a result of their opposition to certain provisions of the USA Patriot Act. ALA OIF Deputy Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone said the FOIA request builds on the American Civil Liberties Union's discovery of information that leads it to believe that the FBI has been scrutinizing organizations that advocate changes to the Patriot Act. The request would focus on activities relating solely to the Association's advocacy concerning the Patriot Act."
CRS: Authorization For Use Of Military Force in Response to the 9/11 Attacks (P.L. 107-40): Legislative History, January 4, 2006. [via FAS]
AP: "The House passed a five-week extension of the Patriot Act on Thursday and sent it to the Senate as Congress scrambled to prevent expiration of anti-terror law enforcement provisions on Dec. 31."
Report prepared by the Minority Staff of the House Judiciary Committee, The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War (273 pages, HTML link to Table of Contents)
The revelation of previously undisclosed domestic surveillance operations, documented in by the New York Times in the December 15 article which apparently had been withheld from publication for a year, has generated considerable controversy and bipartisan reaction calling for a Congressional probe.
As noted, this week marked a dramatic shift in Senate support for Patriot Act reauthorization without substantive reforms to the White House backed bill. Today a bipartisan group of Senators blocked the the bill's approval (the vote was 52-47), noting other recent revelations about secret government surveillance as having an impact on their decision.
Yesterday, I posted a series of links detailing Congressional and advocacy groups' opposition to the reauthorization of H.R. 3199, the PATRIOT Act. Today, the House voted 251 to 174 in favor of the bill. It moves to the Senate for a floor vote on Friday. However, strong opposition promises this will be a contentious battle. And news that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is supporting a delay in the vote, as well as a filibuster if necessary.
Following up on yesterday's Bipartisan Coalition Seeks 3 Month Extension on Expiration of Patriot Act Provisions, today EPIC posted internal FBI documents obtained from a FOIA lawsuit against the DOJ, detailing government use of controversial sections of the Patriot Act scheduled for reauthorization by year's end. EPIC's requests for further documents are pending, and may take several more months to fulfill.
Follow-up to Deal Reached on Patriot Act Reauthorization Amid Wide Disagreement, this press release today: "Senator Patrick Leahy, (D-Vt.), the ranking Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, has forged a coalition of Republican and Democratic senators that introduced a bill Monday to extend the expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act to give Congress more time to improve a proposed rewrite of the PATRIOT Act that they believe is flawed on several counts."
LA Times: Was Focus of Patriot Act Debate a Dodge? - The 'library provision' took center stage, but critics say subpoena-like national security letters, widely used by the FBI, deserve greater scrutiny.
Canada drafts proposals to shield personal data from U.S. anti-terror law, Jim Bronskill, Canadian Press, December 11, 2005: "A federal proposal would allow government departments to immediately cancel a contract with an American firm if it hands personal information about Canadians to U.S. anti-terrorism investigators."
DOJ's Semiannual Report to Congress: April 1, 2005 -- September 30, 2005, Report prepared by the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General.
News reports this afternoon on the compromise reached by the House and Senate on Patriot Act reauthorization include the strong caveat that not all Senators are satisfied (see statements as follows, from Leahy and Feingold), and opposition continues (specifically from the so-called gang of six). Although 16 provisions will now sunset in four as opposed to seven years (including library subpoenas and roving wiretaps), the contentious debate over whether this agreement adequately protects a range of civil liberties may provoke a filibuster.
Following up on reports of civil liberties protections having been stripped from the draft Patriot Act reauthorization and information that the bill contains "poison pill measures," news today that a bipartisan group of Senators (including Feingold and Sununu) is attempting to block passage of bill by the full Senate. Their statement is here.
From American Library Association Washington Office Newsline: "The House is scheduled to vote on the PATRIOT Act conference report as early as Thursday, November 17. The revised bill does not contain important civil liberties safeguards sought by ALA and other advocates...The revised bill sunsets at seven years (The Senate bill sunset was 4 years and the House bill sunset was 10 years) -- A four year sunset will make it possible to correct an abuse of Section 215 at an earlier date."
From EFF, draft of the final conference report follows (in three parts, all PDF):
Press release: "The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has joined with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and PEN American Center in a legal action against the U.S. Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security and the Central Intelligence Agency. In a complaint filed [November 10, 2005 - 19 pages, PDF], the national groups charge that these federal agencies are illegally withholding information on the government's practice of excluding prominent foreign intellectuals based on their political views."
Rep. Conyer's Patriot Act Action Center includes links to Patriot Act resources from government and advocacy sources, a chronology of Congressional action on the legislation (which links to a series of beSpacific postings), recent news articles, and "What the Blogs are Saying."
St. Petersburg Times (Florida), November 13, 2005. State of Secrets, State of Tortue; National security letters put privacy at risk, by Robyn E. Blumner, Perspective columnist.
Related news on the Names of Library Organization Members Gagged by FBI:
Follow-up to previous postings on FBI use of National Security Letters to obtain data on library patron use of online services in Connecticut: Washington Post,The FBI's Secret Scrutiny. The Washington Post researched and reveals the names of the "John Doe's" under the gag, and the name of their organization. Please also note that according to this article: "The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters -- one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people -- are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans."
Follow-up on Patriot Act reauthorization and libraries, from the ACLU: "In the first federal appeals court argument addressing a surveillance provision of the Patriot Act, the American Civil Liberties Union today urged a three-judge panel to uphold two separate rulings: one which found the National Security Letter (NSL) authority of the Patriot Act unconstitutional and another that struck down a gag imposed under the same statute. The controversial NSL provision authorizes the FBI to demand a range of personal records without court approval, including records of Web site visits, e-mail addresses and library records."
From the Washington Post: FBI Papers Indicate Intelligence Violations Secret Surveillance Lacked Oversight
From the ALA Office of Government Relations today: "Six important business organizations (including the United States Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and The Financial Services Roundtable) wrote to Senator Specter expressing "support for reforms to Sections 215 and 505 of the Patriot Act which allow the federal government to require voluminous and often sensitive records from American businesses, without judicial oversight or other meaningful checks on the government’s power," and support for S. 1389. (Letter, PDF)
An interview with Kurt Vonnegut in the October 6 USA Today, includes the following quote: "Music...cheers him, as do people who behave decently. Librarians too - "not famous for their physical strength" - who resist having books removed from shelves and refuse to give names to people who have checked out certain books in the era of the Patriot Act. The America I loved, he writes, still exists in the front desks of public libraries."
Follow-up to my September 29, 2005 posting, Broad Coalition Pushes to Lift Gag Order Against Librarian, AP reports that yesterday the ACLU filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, the text of which is censored, to release an anonymous Connecticut librarian from a gag order concerning an FBI investigation into his/her organization's patron records.
Following up on my September 1 posting, Will Librarian Go To Prison Over Patriot Act Challenge?, see this September 9 press release from the ACLU:
Following up on my August 26 posting, Patriot Act Used to Demand Library Patron Records, this news from the ACLU: "In Legal Papers Unsealed Today, Librarian Speaks of Fear of Imprisonment Over Government Gag in Patriot Act Challenge."
Several articles today highlight the significance of yesterday's ALCU announcement that the government has used authority granted by the Patriot Act, Sec. 505, on National Security Letters, to obtain copies of patron internet related activities from a library institution whose identity cannot be disclosed.
ACLU press release: "The American Civil Liberties Union today disclosed that the FBI has used a controversial Patriot Act power to demand records from an organization that possesses "a wide array of sensitive information about library patrons, including information about the reading materials borrowed by library patrons and about Internet usage by library patrons." The FBI demand was disclosed in a new lawsuit filed in Connecticut, which remains under a heavy FBI gag order."
Report to Congress on Implementation of Section 1001 of the USA PATRIOT Act as required by Section 1001(3) of Public Law 107-56, August 15, 2005, Office of the Inspector General (DOJ).
Although not a surprise to members of the organization, as well as special librarians, researchers, publishers, Congress and...in any case, here is a link to an article from the ABA Journal acknowledging the American Library Association's successful lobbying efforts on issues that include the Patriot Act, DMCA and CIPA.
ALAWON: American Library Association Washington Office Newsline, Volume 14, Number 73, August 1, 2005
From the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property
Center for Democracy and Technology Analysis of Senate and House PATRIOT Act Reauthorization Bills, July 26, 2005 (6 pages, PDF)
CNN reports tonight: "Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said...the door is open for "some amendments, some clarifications" in the Patriot Act, citing as an example the so-called "library provision."
The House (H.R. 3199) and the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to renew provisions of the Patriot Act which sunset by year's end.
House Judiciary Committee, Democratic Dissenting Views - H.R. 3199, the "USA PATROIT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2005" (70 pages, PDF)
"Unnecessary Powers: The Patriot Act already gives government too much power to spy on ordinary Americans, but things could get far worse. Congress is considering adding a broad new investigative power, known as the administrative subpoena, that would allow the Federal Bureau of Investigation to gain access to anyone's financial, medical, employment and even library records without approval from a judge and even without the target knowing about it. Members of Congress should block this disturbing provision from becoming law."
Now available from GPO Access:
June 21, 2005 -- Hearing Chronology of the USA Patriot Act - Hearings held by the House Committee on the Judiiciary (3 pages, PDF).
From today's New York Times, Libraries Say Yes, Officials Do Quiz Them About Users reports on a study, not yet released by the American Library Association (ALA), that documents law enforcement inquiries for information on library patrons' reading materials. The article indicates that there have been "at least 200 formal and informal inquiries to libraries... since October 2001."
S.1266, Title: An original bill to permanently authorize certain provisions of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001, to reauthorize a provision of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, to clarify certain definitions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, to provide additional investigative tools necessary to protect the national security, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Roberts, Pat [KS] (introduced 6/16/2005). Senate Reports: 109-85.
"Today, a bipartisan working group of former senior government officials with expertise in homeland security, intelligence, law enforcement, and civil liberties delivered a set of recommendations for reauthorization of the Patriot Act to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The bipartisan group, co-convened by John Podesta, President of the Center for American Progress, and Richard Falkenrath, former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, worked for several months to develop recommendations for reauthorizing the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act in a way that preserves civil liberties and safeguards our security. "The combined security, intelligence, law enforcement and civil liberties expertise represented in this group is formidable. While we may hold differing views on particular provisions, we believe that the proposal as a whole represents a reasonable compromise that people on all sides can embrace," said Podesta."
White House Press release: President Visits National Counterterrorism Center
"On Thursday, May 26, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will consider in closed session a draft bill that would both renew and expand various USA PATRIOT Act powers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has obtained a copy of the draft bill, along with the committee's summary of it.." [Link]
As reported by the Chicago Tribune on May 20, 2005 (and cited in American Libraries Online, with another article in the Washington Post), this summer, the Naperville, Illinois public library will install biometric scanners on their 130 PCs with web access.
From the ACLU press release: "The Senate Intelligence Committee announced today that it is rushing forward with a markup of Patriot Act reauthorization legislation Thursday, but that the session will be behind closed doors...Some of the most extreme parts of the Patriot Act are set to sunset, or expire, at the end of this year unless Congress reauthorizes them. When lawmakers passed the Patriot Act just 45 days after 9/11, they included these sunsets because they knew that some provisions shouldn’t be made permanent. The committee will be reviewing legislation involving the sunsets and other key parts of the Patriot Act that impact civil liberties."
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, Oversight Hearing on the "Implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act: Prohibition of Material Support Under Sections 805 of the USA PATRIOT Act and 6603 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004."
Continued Oversight of the USA PATRIOT Act, Senate Judiciary Committee, May 10, 2005
House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, Oversight Hearing on the "Implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act: Section 212--Emergency Disclosure of Electronic Communications to Protect Life and Limb," May 5, 2005
House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security - Oversight Hearing on the Implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act: Sections 201, 202, 223 of the Act that Address Criminal Wiretaps, and Section 213 of the Act that Addresses Delayed Notice, May 3, 2005.
As a follow-up to my April 28, 2005 posting on PATRIOT Act hearings in which U.S. Attorney (DC) Kenneth L. Wainstein testified that 9/11 hijackers used public libraries, the following relevant information:
Press release: "U.S. Representative Tom Udall, D-N.M., Thursday became a founding member of the tri-partisan Patriot Act Reform Caucus. Passed weeks after the September 11 attacks, the sweeping anti-terrorism law has increasingly come under criticism from the left and the right. The law included 16 provisions that expire at the end of 2005. Other members of the Patriot Act Reform Caucus include U.S. Reps. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., Ron Paul, R-Texas, and Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y."
"In a complaint (pdf) filed this week, EPIC asked a federal court to force the FBI to disclose information about its use of expanded investigative authority granted by sunsetting provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act."
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, Oversight Hearing on the Implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act: Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA). Part II, April 28, 2005. Witness testimony: Kenneth L. Wainstein, Interim U.S. Attorney, District of Columbia; Robert S. Khuzami, Former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York.
U.S. Senate Committee on Intelligence, hearing on USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, April 27, 2005.
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security - Oversight Hearing on the Implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act: Sections of the Act that Address--Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). (Part 1)
Section 204: Clarification of Intelligence Exceptions from Limitations on Interception & Disclosure of Wire, Oral & Electronic Communications; Section 207: Duration of FISA Surveillance of Non-United States persons who are Agents of a Foreign Power; Section 214: Pen Register and Trap and Trace Authority Under FISA; Section 225: Immunity for Compliance with FISA Wiretap; and Lone Wolf.
PATRIOT Act Oversight Hearing on Section 203 (b) and (d) of the USA-PATRIOT, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security – Tuesday, April 19, 2005:
Report to Congress on Implementation of Section 1001 of the USA PATRIOT Act (as required by Section 1001(3) of Public Law 107-56), March 2005, Office of the Inspector General.
New York Times Editorial, April 10, 2005 - Revising the Patriot Act
CDT has made available a PDF version, 70 pages, of the DOJ's April 2005 report, USA PATRIOT Act Sunsets Report. "The report, which was prepared at the request of Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, analyzes each of the 16 provisions that are scheduled to expire on December 31, 2005.
Several articles today raise questions about the extent to which the government has obtained access to library patron records, as indicated in testimony from yesterday's hearing concerning the reauthorization of the law's 16 provisions which are scheduled to expire at the end of 2005. Links are as follows:
Press release today - Fact Sheet: USA Patriot Act Provisions Set for Reauthorization
Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing, April 5, 2005 - Oversight of the USA PATRIOT Act.
2005 Montana Legislature, Senate Joint Resolution No. 19:...that it is the policy of the citizens of Montana to oppose any portion of the USA PATRIOT Act that violates the rights and liberties guaranteed under the Montana Constitution or the United States Constitution, including the Bill of Rights.
At a presentation today titled, "They Want Your Secrets: Personal Information Privacy in the Post-9/11 World, during the Emerging Issues in National and International Security conference, Valerie Caproni, General Counsel of the FBI stated in reference to issues concerning Section 215 of the Patriot Act, "We don't like the fact that librarians are upset...While their concerns are held very much in good faith, they are misplaced." [GovExec.com]
Press release: "ACLU Seeks Records on Use of Patriot Act to Deny U.S. Entry to Prominent Foreign Scholars - Citing a serious and growing threat to academic freedom, the American Civil Liberties Union today filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records concerning the government’s practice of excluding scholars and other prominent individuals from the U.S. because of their political views."
S. 316: A bill to limit authority to delay notice of search warrants (By Sen. Russell Feingold [D-WI]) Introduced Feb 8, 2005.
Press release: "Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) gained the commitment of the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on the implementation of the controversial Patriot Act. The review would be of the entire act, including those provisions set to expire at the end of this year. Rep. Lofgren succeeded in adding an amendment to the scheduled work plan of the House Judiciary Committee this week when the Committee committed to a series of oversight hearings on the USA PATRIOT Act. Rep. Lofgren also convinced the Committee to commit to hearings on the FBI’s role in domestic and international counter-terrorism."
Press release: "Today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FBI and other offices of the US Department of Justice, seeking the release of documents that would reveal whether the government has been using the USA PATRIOT Act to spy on Internet users' reading habits without a search warrant."
This represents the text of H.R. 10 as reported by the Committee on the Judiciary. Committee Amendment to H.R. 10, October 1, 2004. (PDF, 625 pages)
Reconstructing Electronic Surveillance Law, by Daniel J. Solove.
In a 120 page decision today, Doe and ACLU v. Ashcroft et al., No. 04-CIV-2614, Judge Victor Marreo, Southern District of New York, "struck down an entire Patriot Act provision that gives the government unchecked authority to issue "National Security Letters" to obtain sensitive customer records from Internet Service Providers and other businesses without judicial oversight. The court also found a broad gag provision in the law to be an "unconstitutional prior restraint" on free speech." [Link]
The 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act (PDF, 335 pages), introduced by House Speaker Hastert on September 24, 2004.
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing today, "A Review of Counter-Terrorism Legislation and Proposals, including the USA PATRIOT Act and the SAFE Act."
From the Washington Post (re'g req'd), U.S. Uses Secret Evidence In Secrecy Fight With ACLU, and the related ACLU press release. See also Record Number of FOIA Requests Received by Federal Gov't in 2003.
From the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Let the Sun Set on Patriot.
Today the DOJ released a 29 page report to Congress detailing the manner in which the Patriot Act has been applied in the fight against terrorism. [Link]
From Secrecy News (all reports in PDF):
Testimony of Robert S. Mueller, III, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, May 20, 2004, hearing on FBI Oversight: Terrorism and Other Topics.
May 18, 2004 - Legislative hearing on H.R. 3179, the "Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Tools Improvement Act of 2003."
From the ACLU press release, Judge Revises Sealing Order in Controversial Patriot Act Challenge, May 12: "A federal judge today revised a strict sealing order in a challenge to the Patriot Act's expanded "National Security Letter" power filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union. The government had relied on the strict seal in the case to demand that the ACLU and NYCLU remove two paragraphs from a press release on their websites. One of those paragraphs has now been reposted to the ACLU website; it describes the briefing schedule in the case."
"The American Library Association, along with other library and education
associations, has filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) opposing a Department of Justice attempt to bring all broadband access
to the Internet within the scope of the Communications Assistance for Law
Enforcement Act (CALEA)." [Link]
Two Staff Statements were released today by the 9/11 Commission, along with submitted testimony from today's hearing, as follows (more links tomorrow as testimony is posted online) -
The bipartisan SAFE Act (S. 1709 and H.R. 3352), "to amend the USA PATRIOT ACT to place reasonable limitations on the use of surveillance and the issuance of search warrants, and for other purposes," is the target of a veto threat by the White House, delivered by letter from Attorney General Ashcroft to Senate leaders, according to this AP article.
Report to Congress on Implementation of Section 1001 of the USA PATRIOT Act, January 27, 2004 [ResourceShelf]:
The American Association of University Professors recently published a report, Academic Freedom and National Security in a Time of Crisis:
Patriot Act Author Has Concerns: "Detaining citizens as 'enemy combatants' -- a policy not spelled out in the act -- is flawed, the legal scholar says." From the LA Times, reg. req'd.
Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Engrossed Amendment as Agreed to by Senate), (H.R. 2417). Senate agreed to conference report by voice vote, November 21. The conference report, H. Rept. 108-381, was approved by the House, by a vote of 264-163, on November 20.
"On November 3, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and free speech groups representing librarians, publishers, writers and others filed a brief [in support of the ACLU's complaint filed July 30] that strongly supports a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the provision of the USA Patriot Act that gives the FBI virtually unlimited access to personal, organization and business records, including bookstore and library records. The U.S. Justice Department has filed a motion to dismiss the case." [Link]
From Page One of today's WSJ, an article titled, Patriot Act Riles An Unlikely Group: Nation's Librarians- [subtitled] Fears About Terrorism Clash With Principles of Privacy As Online Searches Surge:
The House version of the Security and Freedom Ensured Act of 2003 (SAFE) Act, introduced October 21, H.R. 3352, mirrors the companion Senate version (S. 1709, introduced October 2), but it modifies the definition of domestic terrorism to "involve acts dangerous to human life," thereby excluding political protests.
"Protecting Our National Security from Terrorist Attacks: A Review of Criminal Terrorism Investigations and Prosecutions," Senate Judiciary Committee
Full Committee, October 21, 2003.
EPIC filed an action under FOIA in the U.S. District Court, DC, "seeking the expedited release
of Justice Department records concerning the lobbying efforts of federal prosecutors to oppose revisions to the controversial USA PATRIOT Act. Despite widespread media coverage of the lobbying campaign, and questions as to its legality, DOJ has refused to expedite EPIC's disclosure request."
On October 15, Idaho Senator Larry Craig was joined by colleagues from both sides of the aisle as co-sponsors to S.1709, the Security and Freedom Ensured Act of 2003 (SAFE Act), to amend the USA PATRIOT ACT to place reasonable limitations on the use of surveillance and the issuance of search warrants, and for other purposes. Sen. Craig's press release indicates that the legislation focuses on four disputatious sections of the USA PATRIOT Act:
As a follow-up to my September 18 posting, Ashcroft Relents on Releasing Info On Library Records, the CDT has published a copy of the Memorandum for Director Robert S. Mueller from AG Ashcroft, Patriot Act Section 215.
From Sen. Russ Feingold's press release:
On the NBC Today show this morning, former Attorney General Edwin Meese apparently made the following statement in reference to the Patriot Act: "librarians are more interested in pushing p****graphy than fighting terrorism."
Via the DC Chapter of the Special Libraries Association website, this link to a compilation of Patriot Act commentaries, news and journal articles, and postings to discussion groups, from a range of sources that include the New York Times, USA Today, PBS, LLRX.com, and librarian.net, a website which was prominently cited in the print version of yesterday's New York Times magazine.
From the New York Times Magazine, 9/28/03: Is it possible that librarians could be the biggest threat to the Patriot Act?
Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) issued a press release on his introduction of a bill (H.R. 3171) to repeal sections of the Patriot Act that authorize violations of civil liberties.
Additional links related to yesterday's New York Times article:
From today's New York Times: Ashcroft Mocks Librarians and Others Who Oppose Parts of Counterterrorism Law:
On April 30, 2003 the Department of the Treasury issued final regs on Implementing Customer Identity Verification Requirements under Section 326 of the USA PATRIOT Act. This Fact Sheet provides details about the Customer Identification Program (CIP), effective October 1, 2003, which will require that financial institutions:
From the Gallup Poll press release, September 9, 2003:
H.R. 2622, to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act, to prevent identity theft, improve resolution of consumer disputes, improve the accuracy of consumer records, make improvements in the use of, and consumer access to, credit information, and for other purposes, passed the House on September 10.
2 Years Later | Civil Liberties Patriot Gains (& Losses)
"The U.S.A. Patriot Act, the largest expansion of government search and surveillance powers in U.S. history, passed Congress without much dissent soon after the September 11 attacks. Let's just say people had other things on their minds than the small print of a 300-page bill that John Ashcroft & Co. assured would protect us. After all, one thing we pretty much all agreed on after 9/11 was that we needed protecting."
Continuity and Change in Support for Civil Liberties after the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, (47 pages, pdf) is the second part of a national survey (by Michigan State University), conducted between January and May 2003, which queried the same group of 679 individuals as the first survey undertaken in the months immediately after the 9/11 attacks. The focus remains whether Americans continue to be "willing to concede rights to the government in order to attain greater security." Within this context, it considers homeland security programs/legislation that were implemented/passed (Patriot Act, Dept. of Homeland Security) as well those projects that were abandoned (Operation TIPS, the Total Information Awareness Program). The study concludes that Americans remain deeply concerned with domestic terrorism and are therefore willing to accept an expanded level of government surveillance even if this results in diminished civil liberties.
Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II), to be implemented by the summer of 2004, is the focus of several recent articles and notices:
A Guide to the Patriot Act, Part 1 - Should you be scared of the Patriot Act? proclaims there are villans on both side of the fight over the extension of this act, as well as its proposed progeny, the Victory Act (as the Patriot Act II was quickly dispatched while still in draft). This part of the guide focuses on Section 215 (Access to Records and Other Items Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). Part II of this four part guide addresses "changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, and sneak and peek warrants."
From Boston.com, another article focused on public library efforts to maintain the privacy of their patron's usage records:
The DOJ took issue with a statement on the Patriot Act posted to the ABCNews Nightline website yesterday, resulting in this press release. The following "correction" now appears on the Nightline website:
EPIC and Privacy International today released their Privacy and Human Rights 2003 report. "This extensive survey examines the state of civil liberties around the world. Key topics include Total Information Awareness, the public response to the Patriot Act, biometric identification, and new technologies of surveillance."
This commentary, Why the ACLU Is Right To Challenge The FBI's Access to Library, Bookstore, and Business Records Under the USA PATRIOT Act, by Anita Ramasastry, focuses on the privacy issues and related lawsuits associated with the FBI's ability to invoke Sec. 215, the Access to Records and Other Items Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights issued a media alert that responds to specific statements in support of the Patriot Act made by Attorney General Ashcroft in a speech he delivered at the American Enterprise Institute on August 19.
PATRIOT Propaganda: Justice Department's PATRIOT Act Website Creates New Myths About Controversial Law. See also my previous posting on the Preserving Life & Liberty website.
Links to resources from today's ACLU forum, "CAPPS II: Passenger Screening and Privacy Concerns," are as follows:
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has issued a list of questions for reporters to ask Attorney General Ashcroft as he pursues his national PR campaign in support of the Patriot Act. The questions focus on the impact of Sec. 215 of the Act (Access to Records and Other Items Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act).
The Department of Justice is hosting what can only be described as a PR website, Preserving Life & Liberty, that promotes the USA PATRIOT Act. The site links to documents that include: major speeches by Attorney General Ashcroft, a list of point/counterpoint statements that are presented using the caption "Myth" vs. "Realty"; a detailed Senate vote chart on the USA PATRIOT Act (House Republicans Voting Yes: 96%, House Democrats Voting Yes: 69%), statements from 2001 from various prominent Democrat and Republican Senators stating their support of the act's passage, a select group of excerpts from pro-Patriot Act news articles, a poll conducted by Fox News July 31 indicating public support for the act, and a link to the text of the act.
The National Consumer Privacy Coalition Group obtained a draft of the VICTORY Act (Vital Interdiction of Criminal Terrorist Organizations Act of 2003), which has been circulated on Capitol Hill, but a copy of which I have yet to find posted on the web (please contact me if you have a link). This article indicates that the legislation "is a grab-bag of enhanced police-state powers."
Although there has been considerable focus on the Patriot Act as it impacts libraries, this Atlanta-Journal Constitution article details the wider impact of law enforcement's significantly increased demand for customer data from businesses that range from scuba shops to telecommunications companies. Examples from the article include the following:
Watching the Watchers - First two lawsuits challenging the Patriot Act likely aren't the last.
Unpatriotic Acts: The FBI's Power to Rifle Through Your Records and Personal Belongings Without Telling You, July 2003, from the ACLU. The focus of this 26 page report (pdf) is an examination of, along with related resources and legal documents on, Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, "which gives the FBI unprecedented access to private, sensitive records and any tangible things."
From the American Library Association Washington Office Newsline:
From the American Library Association Washington Office Newsline: "On July 31, 2003, Senator Feingold (D-WI), joined by Senators Bingaman (D-NM), Kennedy (D-MA), Cantwell (D-WA), Durbin (D-IL), Wyden (D-OR), Corzine (D-NJ), Akaka (D-HI), and Jeffords (I-VT), introduced the Library, Bookseller, and Personal Records Privacy Act (S. 1507). The bill would amend the PATRIOT Act to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans and set reasonable limits on the federal government's access to library, bookseller, medical, and other sensitive, personal information under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and related foreign intelligence authority."
This lawsuit, Muslim Community Ass'n of Ann Arbor, et al, v. John Ashcroft and Robert Mueller (July 30, 2003), filed by the ACLU on behalf of Arab-Americans, challenges the constitutionality of Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act.
On Thursday, July 31, the ACLU will be hosting a live online chat discussing the FBI's broad new surveillance powers under the USA PATRIOT Act. Hear about the Fourth and First Amendment defects to a provision in the law that allows the government to obtain records or personal belongings from any person or entity, including public libraries, upon the mere showing of "relevance" to a terrorism investigation.
Attorney General Ashcroft promotes antiterrorism law: Speaking at a homeland security conference on Monday, "Ashcroft said the USA PATRIOT Act preserved traditional checks on library, bookstore and business records because a "federal judge must first issue a warrant" and because it is for "foreign intelligence that doesn't affect U.S. persons."
House Takes Aim at Patriot Act Secret Searches: "The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to roll back a key provision (amending H.R. 2799, see link below), which allows the government to conduct secret "sneak and peek" searches of private property, of a sweeping anti-terrorism law passed soon after the Sept. 11 attacks."
Accusations of Abuse in Report on USA Patriot Act: "A report by internal investigators at the Justice Department has identified dozens of recent cases in which department employees have been accused of serious civil rights and civil liberties violations involving enforcement of the sweeping federal antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act."
From the press release: The American Civil Liberties Union today said that it has found a consistent pattern of factually inaccurate assertions by the Department of Justice in statements to the media and Congress, statements that mischaracterize the scope, potential impact and likely harm of the now-notorious USA PATRIOT Act.
Text below is from the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2004, (House of Representatives - July 08, 2003), (Page: H6276)
An editorial from the Christian Science Monitor, July 8, 2003: Privacy at the Library -
"The Patriot Act, designed to help combat terrorism in the US, has many citizens worried about censorship and a loss of privacy. Vigilance certainly is warranted when it comes to ensuring Americans' precious freedoms. And that includes ongoing, thoughtful consideration of provisions designed to protect the country and its people - in this case, the Constitution's Fourth Amendment protection of citizens against unreasonable search and seizure."
ACLU Report, 23 pages in pdf: Independence Day 2003: Main Street America Fights the Federal Government's Insatiable Appetite for New Powers in the Post 9/11 Era.
This Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) webpage presents a synopisis of the privacy and civil liberties issues associated with the organization's opposition to the Patriot Act. In addition, it enumerates EFF efforts, both collaborative and direct, to maintain the public's focus on the ramifications of the law.
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Before and After the USA PATRIOT Act, from the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, June 2003 (via Secrecy News).
American Libraries Online has an interesting article on AG Ashcroft's June 19 presentation at the Aspen Institute Journalism and Homeland Security conference. Ashcroft is quoted as stating the following:
Rep. Joseph M. Hoeffel (PA) introduced a bill to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to improve the administration and oversight of foreign intelligence surveillance, the Surveillance and Oversight and Disclosure Act of 2003 (SODA).
From the ACLU:
According to an article in FCW: "Attorney General John Ashcroft defended the Justice Department's search of library records under the USA Patriot Act, telling lawmakers the process safeguards individual privacy," when he testified yesterday before the Judiciary Committee. In related news:
From American Libraries Online: "In independent actions, the Door County (Wis.) and the Livermore (Calif.) public libraries have asked lawmakers to rescind Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. The section gives federal agents the ability to get a court order to obtain an individual’s bookstore or library records without establishing probable cause, and forbids librarians and booksellers from notifying anyone of the probe, including the person under investigation."
A DOJ press release dated June 3, states: The New York Times inaccurately reported that Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh said FBI "agents have contacted about 50 libraries nationwide in the course of terrorism investigations" (Eric Lichtblau, Justise Dept. Lists Use of New Power to Fight Terror, May 21, 2003). The transcript of the hearing, below, makes clear that AAG Dinh was speaking of ordinary criminal cases rather than national security cases. Information on library contact in national security investigations is provided to Congress in a classified format, as was also noted in AAG Dinh’s testimony.
To read Mr. Dinh's complete testimony, and related documents from the May 19 oversight hearing, "Anti-Terrorism Investigations and the Fourth Amendment After September 11: Where and When Can the Government Go to Prevent Terrorist Attacks?" see my previous posting here.
S.1158, A bill to exempt bookstores and libraries from orders requiring the production of tangible things for foreign intelligence investigations, and to exempt libraries from counterintelligence access to certain records, ensuring that libraries and bookstores are subjected to the regular system of court-ordered warrants, was introduced on May 23 by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
SFGate.com reported on public protests against the Patriot Act by Palo Alto librarians. In addition to the librarians, the article states that the "police chief is supporting a resolution before the Cicty Council next week that would prohibit her department from aiding the FBI in Patriot Act searches, interviews or surveillance without evidence that a crime has been committed."
Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who sponsored the Freedom to Read Protection Act, (H.R. 1157), will present the keynote at the opening session of the Joint Annual Conference of the American Library Association and Canadian Library Association, in Toronto on June 21.
The Alaska legislature passed House Joint Resolution 22 stating "it is the policy of the State of Alaska to oppose any portion of the USA Patriot Act that would violate the rights and liberties guaranteed equally under the state and federal constitutions."
According to the ACLU, "Alaska's resolution is the 114th of its kind to pass in a city, county or state jurisdiction around the country."
In related news see: Alaska Legislature Stands Up for Civil Liberties.
From a May 20 Judiciary Committee news advisory: "House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) released the answers received last week from the Justice Department regarding the USA PATRIOT Act and the war on terrorism. Chairman Sensenbrenner and Rep. Conyers wrote Attorney General John Ashcroft on April 1, 2003 requesting information on these issues."
Also from the Judiciary Committee, links to the following documents from the May 19 oversight hearing, "Anti-Terrorism Investigations and the Fourth Amendment After September 11: Where and When Can the Government Go to Prevent Terrorist Attacks?"
Geoffrey Nunberg, senior researcher at the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University, is the author of this new article, As Google Goes, So Goes the Nation. Also see Getting It Right: Verifying Sources on the Net.
Nothing new here, but nevertheless worth noting that Time.com has an article, Checking What You Check Out, on opposition to the Patriot Act by librarians across the country. See also my topical resource on the issue here.
Also note this posting from the Volokh Conspiracy that states the Time article erroneously interprets Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
Homeland Security Privacy Suit Dismissed: "U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly earlier this week signed a dismissal agreement between the Justice Department and the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, which had sought records about the office's activities."
From Eyeteeth, this interview with professor and author Siva Vaidhyanathan, whose books include The Anarchist in the Library, which details the impact of peer-to-peer networks on the dissemination of information, and Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity.
His comments about libraries and the Patriot Act include the following: "What we’re doing though is making librarians choose among their values. Librarians believe very strongly in recordkeeping and in maintaining archives. It’s part of the historical record; that’s half of what they do. But the other half of what they do is serve and protect their patrons. The federal government has made librarians choose between retaining records that might be useful, for instance in budgetary discussions not to mention historical research, and protecting their patrons, so their patrons don’t feel intimidated by the books they choose to read or by the potential of oversight of the books they choose to read. There are a lot of librarians around the country right now who are taking a very noble and strong stand against this situation, and I think we need to celebrate them and support them in this effort."
From the press release: "The Department of the Treasury, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and the seven federal financial regulators today issued final rules that require certain financial institutions to establish procedures to verify the identity of new accountholders."
ABC News has highlighted the ongoing story on the battle being waged by libraries and booksellers against the Patriot Act (Sec. 215. Access to Records and Other Items Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) that permits government access to data about patron reading habits, Internet usage, and book purchases. Opposition to many aspects of this legislation is backed by a disparate coalition of liberals, conservatives and libertarians (including Rep. Bob Barr and Rep. Bernie Sanders). Sanders introduced the Freedom to Read Protection Act on March 6, 2003.
The American Library Association (ALA) has a useful resource available on their site: USA Patriot Act Resolutions of State Library Associations. It offers an alphabetical list of states, along with either direct, or sometimes circuitous links, to their respective resolutions endorsing the ALA USA Patriot Act Resolution.
From around the country, more articles on the escalating backlash against the Patriot Act as exemplified by defiant libraries and local governments. In Washington State, Libraries routinely toss data on patrons'. From New York State, Libraries, government at odds over Patriot Act, and from California, Local Officials Rise Up to Defy The Patriot Act.
Public libraries across the country continue to pro-actively protect patron privacy using various straight-forward methods. In and around Chicago, libraries have recently posted signs informing visitors that their reading habits, and web sites visited from library PCs, are subject to tracking. "We want our patrons to be aware we could be forced to turn these items over," said library director Carolyn Anthony, explaining why the warning signs appeared last week at checkout counters and computer stations." The Schaumburg Township District Library is deleting patron computer logs. See also a recent posting on how other public libraries from coast to coast are responding to patron surveillance.
As a follow-up to my posting yesterday, Legislative Maneuvering to Extend Patriot Act, see today's press release from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Leahy Threatens Floor Fight On Move to Repeal Sunset Provisions of The USA PATRIOT Act. More information on this issue tomorrow.
The Washington Post brings more attention to the growing movement in public libraries to pro-actively challenge patron surveillance efforts associated with the Patriot Act. The 64,000 member American Library Association has passed a resolution seeking its repeal, and librarians across the country are taking actions to limit access to patron related online and paper documents.
This New York Times article, Republicans Want Terror Law Made Permanent, indicates there is a partisan fight afoot on the Hill over a proposal by Sen. Orrin Hatch to make specific provisions of the Patriot Act permanent, rather than allowing them to expire ("sunset") in 2005 as originally specified. As follows, here is the applicable section of the Patriot Act (sec. 224, Sunset):
(a) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in subsection (b), this title and the amendments made by this title (other than sections 203(a), 203(c), 205, 208, 210, 211, 213, 216, 219, 221, and 222, and the amendments made by those sections) shall cease to have effect on December 31, 2005.
A headline from today's New York Times states, Librarians Use Shredder to Show Opposition to New F.B.I. Powers. This article provides further details to a previous posting on the stance of public librarians in Santa Cruz County against provisions of the Patriot Act that permit the FBI to access patron data. The librarians are using various methods to protect patron privacy, including posting signs, online statements and handing out flyers about the Patriot Act, as well as shredding public access Internet logs and notes made during the course of reference interviews, on a daily basis.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation just published an in-depth analysis of the January 9, 2003 draft known as Patriot Act II, titled Provisions of the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 that Impact the Internet and Surveillance. This analysis refers to the purported vaporware bill (there is no offical DOJ statement accepting authorship) as USAPA II, and focuses on the legislative intent and ramifications of provisions which are designated as permanent, and not subject to "sunset" or phase-out.
As reported in USA Today, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Missouri has charged that eBay Inc.'s online payment company, PayPal, provided services, prior to mid-2002, to online gambling merchants, in violation of the Patriot Act.
From eBay's annual report filed in March, the following details: "On March 28, 2003, PayPal received a letter from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri indicating its contention that PayPal’s provision of services to online gambling merchants violated 18 U.S.C. § 1960 of the USA PATRIOT Act, which prohibits the transmission of funds that are known to have been derived from a criminal offense or are intended to be used to promote or support unlawful activity, thereby subjecting PayPal to potential civil forfeiture of the amounts it received in connection with such activities as well as potential criminal liability. The letter offered a complete settlement of all possible claims and charges from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri if Paypal paid the purported amount of its earnings derived from online gambling merchants during the nine-month period from October 26, 2001 to July 31, 2002, plus interest."
Announcement from EPIC's website, March 24: "In a legal memorandum (pdf) filed with the federal court in Washington, EPIC and the American Civil Liberties Union challenge the Justice Department's refusal to disclose basic, statistical information concerning implementation of the controversial USA PATRIOT Act. For background information and copies of DOJ and FBI documents that have been obtained, see EPIC's PATRIOT Act FOIA Litigation page."
EPIC has launched the Online FOIA Gallery 2003, providing "scanned images of documents obtained by EPIC through the Freedom of Infomation Act, including evidence of the misuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, video monitoring of political protesters in Washington, DC, and the names and project titles of the organizations receiving funding from John Poindexter for research on Total Information Awareness."
A new White Paper from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, released March 14: How the War on Terrorism Affects Access to Information and the Public's Right to Know Covering the war. Topics covered include: Military tribunals, Access to terrorism & immigration proceedings, Domestic coverage, The USA PATRIOT Act, The reporter's privilege, Freedom of Information, and The rollback in state openness.
From this article in Security Focus, news that Verint Systems, "a global organization providing analytic software solutions for communications interception, digital video security and surveillance," to governments around the world, has launched a sophisticated new application called ULTRA IntelliFind that monitors telephone communications and creates a database of specified key words which are then searchable in the context of each conversation. This system is used to enhance customer service, as well as in government surveillance and information gathering activities. Our government is apparently already using other "communications interception solutions" from this company, including STAR-GATE and RELIANT.
Representive Max Coll introduced House Joint Memorial 40 to the New Mexico Legislature, "Affirming Civil Rights and Liberties; Declaring Opposition to Federal Measures that Infringe on Civil Liberties." The House subsequently issued this substitute bill that includes the following statement:
The bill seeks to "direct public libraries to post in a prominent place within the library a notice as follows: "WARNING: Under Section 215 of the federal USA Patriot Act (Public Law 107-56), records of books and other materials you borrow from this library may be obtained by federal agents. This law also prohibits librarians from informing you if records about you have been obtained by federal agents. Questions about this policy should be directed to Attorney General John Ashcroft, Department of Justice, Washington, DC 20530."
According to this article in today's San Francisco Chronicle, branch libraries in Santa Cruz County have posted signs (as well as an online statement) warning patrons that "Although the Santa Cruz Library makes every effort to protect your privacy, under the federal USA PATRIOT ACT (Public Law 107-56), records of the books and other materials you borrow from this library may be obtained by federal agents." The website also links users to the Library Joint Powers Board: A Resolution on the USA PATRIOT Act and Related Measures that Infringe on the Rights of Library Users.
Spurred on by an October 22, 2002 letter from the Vermont Library Association, Rep. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) introduced a new bill on March 6, the Freedom to Read Protection Act, to exempt libraries and bookstores from Section 215 of the Patriot Act. He did so with a bi-partisan coalition of 24 co-sponsors. Section 215 is titled, Access to Records Under Foreign Intelligence Security Act (FISA). (Thanks to Donna Cavallini for alerting me about this news).
The goal of the bill is to protect librarians and bookstore owners, and their respective patrons from government sponsored data collection and surveillance without a search warrant and probable cause. According to Rep. Sanders, "The threat of terrorism must not be used as an excuse by the government to intrude upon our basic constitutional rights."
The American Society of Newspaper Editors recently issued a memo, The Effect of Patriot Act II on Newspapers. It focuses on three areas in which the proposed draft legislation would impact First Amendment rights: "(1) Increased surveillance authority that might chill speech, especially political dissent; (2) Increased restrictions on access to government information, either generally or through the Freedom of Information Act; and (3) Increased criminal provisions that might affect the First Amendment protections of the right to free association."
Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released a report yesterday, highly critical of the FBI, that identified serious problems impacting the FISA process: FBI Oversight in the 107th Congress by the Senate Judiciary Committee: FISA Implementation Failures - An Interim Report.
Senators Release Committee Report on FISA Implementation Failures and Introduce Sunshine Bill - Press release from Senator Leahy about the bipartisan report. See also the Sectional Analysis of the Domestic Surveillance Oversight Act of 2003.
In response to the issues raised as a result of their investigation, Senators Leahy and Grassley announced the introduction of the Domestic Surveillance Oversight Act of 2003 (PDF), or the FISA Sunshine Bill (S. 436). The bill is an effort to balance national security issues with civil liberties, and one element would require that: "Surveillance on public and university libraries pursuant to administrative subpoenas, or 'National Security Letters,' issued under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) be reported to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees."
The official DOJ response to the report is here.
Washington Times columnist Nat Hentoff delivers a pointed commentary on the "sequel to the Patriot Act.... an assault on the Bill of Rights drafted without consultation with Congress."
For librarians around the country, concerns about the Patriot Act and patron privacy rights have only increased in the wake of recent news about the administration's proposed Patriot II legislative initiative.
From Sunday's Ohio Toledo Blade, this article, Libraries fear loss of privacy as FBI searches for terrorists, illustrates the conflicting positions at issue involving public access to the Web and e-mail as it impacts the fight against terrorism.
In December 2002, The Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association (ALA) announced a series of training institutes across the country, to begin February 27-28 in Washington, D.C, titled "Lawyers for Libraries." The purpose of these institutes is to "ensure that attendees know about the most up-to-date, accurate and relevant legislation and case law related to the First Amendment in libraries."
A book shop is Montpelier Vermont, Bear Pond Books, instituted a policy to purge the records of customer purchases upon their request. This action was taken in response to provisions of the Patriot Act that allow the government to force disclosure of customer buying records as part of their effort to "enhance domestic security against terrorism."
Professor Anita Ramasastry of the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle has published a commentary worth review, Patriot II: The Sequel Why It's Even Scarier than the First Patriot Act. See my previous postings here and here on this controversial draft legislation that was leaked even before it was made available to members of Congress.
The ACLU, on behalf of a group of civil liberties organizations and several Arab-American organizations, filed an appeal (PDF) with the Supreme Court on February 18 in re: The Sealed Case of the Foreign Intelligence Court of Review (FISA) (PDF) decided November 18, 2002. This controversial decision, the first in the history of FISA, gave wide latitude to the DOJ to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance using methods including wiretapping, and reading e-mail communications. The ACLU press release is here, and a related article on CNN via AP, is here.
The advocacy group Public Integrity issued a press release on February 7 detailing their research on a previously secret 120 page draft of what is being called the "Patriot Act II" legislation, which apparently has not been shared with the House Judiciary Committee. This draft was written by the staff of Attorney General John Ashcroft.
The draft document, titled The Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, provides a section by section analysis of this new legislation granting the government new and expanded powers to fight terrorism through means which are already being utilized including: domestic surveillance, data-mining, law enforcement acitivities, new limitations on freedom of information, and a decrease in judicial review.
The draft document can take minutes to download due to its length, so Public Integrity has made it, and related documents, available in several parts, all in PDF, or you may choose to download the complete 120 page PDF version:
In a post on January 6, 2003 I noted a proposed rule from DOJ that would subject transportation manifests to electronic monitoring. On February 3, EPIC filed comments on the privacy implications of this rule with the INS. For the first time, data would be collected electronically on all U.S. and non-U.S. residents.
Privacy and Security, A librarian's dilemma, addresses the challenges faced by public librarians post 9/11 who are committed both to the country's safety and security, as well as to their patron's right to privacy. Law professor and library law expert Mary Minow states the issue succinctly: "How do we make sure we protect the privacy of our patrons, so people don't come into the library with the notion that the federal government is looking over your shoulder?"
Safeguarding Our Patrons' Privacy: What Every Librarian Needs to Know about the USA PATRIOT Act & Related Anti-Terrorism Measures, videotape (120 minutes) and manual (27 pp.), published December 2002, are available for $35 from the Association of Research Libraries.
The American Library Association (ALA) issued a resolution on the Patriot Act that states the organization "considers sections of the act a president danger to the constitution and privacy rights of library users. It not only encourages librarians to defend user privacy, it also asks ALA to take action to obtain and publicize information about surveillance and assess the impact on libraries." This reference is from the Library Journal, registration req'd.
Momentum against the TIA program is escalating, as the Senate agreed yesterday in a voice vote to accept Ron Wyden's Amendment 59 to H. Res. 15, the continuing appropriations for the fiscal year 2003. The purpose of the amendment is to block the use of funds for further development and expansion of the program until such time as its impact on civil liberties can be accurately evaluated. Such an evaluation has not been possible as formal Congressional requests for detailed documentation on TIA activities have not yielded results. This matter will now probably move on to a House-Senate conference. In the interim, the program's funding, and its work, will continue.
For reference, please see the Congressional Record, January 23, 2003 (Senate), Page S1379-S1419. The text of Amendment 59 is toward the bottom of this document, which is quite long, and loads very slowly.
Ambassador David Johnson, U.S. permanent representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) issued a statement in response to growing international concerns that U.S. anti-terrorism legislation such as the Patriot Act was negatively impacting the exercise of civil liberties. He stated, "The First Amendment rights of libraries, and bookstores and their patrons, are protected under these ordinances and will not be abridged."
As a result of their October 2002 FOI lawsuit, EPIC and the ACLU obtained over 200 documents related to DOJ surveillance activities undertaken subsequent to the Patriot Act. However, this ACLU press release indicates that the documents were so heavily redacted as to provide little if any relevant information. Examples of these documents are available here. The DOJ has stated that no further documents will be forthcoming without further litigation.
A recent survey of how U.S. public librarians have responded to information requests from law enforcement as a result of the Patriot Act indicates that the community is divided in regard to protecting patron privacy. Of those surveyed, 219 indicated that they provided data on patrons, while 229 responded that they did not do so. The survey, Public Libraries and Civil Liberties: A Profession Divided (in PDF), was conducted by the Library Research Center at the University of Illinois. A press release detailing the survey design methodology is here.
The increased focus on the activities of the Total Information Awareness program culminated this week with several legislative initiatives, as mentioned in my post here.
It is interesting to note that the TIA site now hosts a slide show with detailed accompanying notes, titled, Security With Privacy (in PDF). There is also a media update here, with the supposedly assuring language, "Today, the full TIA prototype exists only as a vision."
The press release is here. The full-text report, Bigger Monster, Weaker Chains: The Growth of an American Surveillance Society, was issued by the ACLU on January 15.
Negative responses continued to reverberated in the press after the White House announcement last week of plans to expand monitoring of Internet usage. Internet News reports that the White House was busy doing damage control over the privacy issues that are at the heart of The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace (draft version), the details of which remain fluid as debate about the final report intensifies in anticipation of its release in early 2003.
It remains to seen how, if at all, this December 24, 2002 Notice of Open Meeting from the Federal Register, issued by the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security National Infrastructure Advisory Council, on the White House National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, will impact the debate.
The New York Times reported that the Administration plans to widen the scope of government sponsored monitoring of Internet usage as well as the use of surveillance, to counter possible terrorist threats. Further details of such plans are still under development, and would be included in the early 2003 release of the final version of The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace (the draft, issued September 2002, is available here).
Strong concerns regarding these plans quickly were voiced by industry and consumers, and InfoWorld reported the same day that Brian Roehrkasse, spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, denied the statements made in the New York Times article.
See also this PC Magazine article, Bush Cybersecurity Plan Under Fire--Again.
The Total Information Awareness Office (TIA) and its controversial director Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, (remembered by some for his Reagan era Iran Contra involvement), have begun to feel the heat of growing dissent concerning the activities of this project. Personal data about Poindexter has been posted on numerous weblogs (see this example) and discussed in many "mainstream" press articles, such as this one. One consequence of this cumulative criticism of the project has been the removal of biographical data from the TIA site, as noted here by computerbytesman, who has saved cached links to data that was removed.
In the December 18, 2002 Federal Register there are proposed changes to sentencing guidelines for United States Courts in response to the Patriot Act and other post 9/11 laws concerning terrorism and national security.
This USA Today article quotes several librarians on their views with regard to the issue of compliance with potential FBI demands for information on patron use of public library Internet access, as required by the Patriot Act.
This Federal Computer Week article provides commentary and illuminating details on the Total Information Awareness program's technology, objectives, data collection criteria, and funding. Far from being a small blip on the budget radar, the TIA project actually has at its disposal some $240 million in tax payer funds through 2003.
This New York Times article, New Tools for Domestic Spying, and Qualms, provides important perspective on the increasingly contentious issues associated with domestic surveillance and civil liberties in the post 9/11 world. Data on citizens who use public services such as libraries, and a range of commercial services, such as flight training schools and scuba diving lessons, has been targeted for collection by various agencies, including state Joint Terrorism Task Forces. This data will be added to the controversial Total Information Awareness (TIA) system that is currently under development.
Although primarily a symbolic action, the Eugene City Council passed a resolution, with impetus from 2,000 citizen signatures on a petition, stating the city's opposition to the USA Patriot Act. See also my other posting on a growing movement by municipalities to oppose the Patriot Act.
The ACLU and EPIC have secured an order from Judge Huvelle, U.S. District Court, D.C., in response to their FOIA complaint for Patriot Act related documents. A list of those documents the DOJ will release must be provided to the groups by January 15, 2003, however, the agency has indicated that documents will be withheld due to national security issues.
The ACLU and EPIC have secured an order from Judge Huvelle, U.S. District Court, D.C., in response to their FOIA complaint for Patriot Act related documents. A list of those documents the DOJ will release must be provided to the groups by January 15, 2003, however, the agency has indicated that documents will be withheld due to national security issues.
On October 24, 2002 the ACLU filed a FOI lawsuit to obtain DOJ documents pertaining to the government's various Patriot Act surveillance programs and initiatives. In a press release issued today, the ACLU is again demanding that the DOJ comply with their demand to release documents the government admits to having compiled, but to date, refuses to supply. The ACLU's Memorandum in Suport of a Preliminary Injunction is here.
Advocacy groups the ACLU, EPIC, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and the Freedom to Read Foundation have sued the DOJ under FOIA in an effort to obtain documents related to the implementation of the Patriot Act that involve libraries, bookstores and newspapers.
The House Judiciary Committee released the text of the DOJ's 28 answers from a total of 50 questions submitted by Representatives Conyers and Sensenbrenner concerning privacy, surveillance and data collection issues associated with the implementation of the Patriot Act. Many of the answers however remain classified.
The ACLU is certainly not satisfied with the answers, and has responded by launching a media campaign. Rep. Sensenbrenner on the other hand, stated, "I am satisfied that the Department of Justice has produced answers that are sufficient for the Committee’s oversight and legislative efforts at this time. These responses provide basic information regarding implementation of the USA-PATRIOT Act (“Act”) that will permit the Committee to understand how it is working in practice and to continue oversight of the use of these new authorities in the future." His press release is here.
The University of California at San Diego has taken alot of flack for their attempt to force a student site to remove web links to revolutionary groups on university owned servers. See my previous posting on this topic.
The University has now decided to recind their demand on basis of the students right to free speech, but maintains that the students should remove link to terrorist organizations from another site they operate.
According to this article on CNET, UC San Diego has directed the student run Ché Café Collective web site to remove links to an organization identified by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, in accordance with the USA Patriot Act.
"Today's guidelines establish procedures for the disclosure to the intelligence community of grand jury and electronic, wire, and oral interception information that identifies a United States person, as defined by federal law."
OMB Watch is a non-profit advocacy group that has been shining a bright light on the activities of the Office of Management and Budget since 1983. Post 9/11, their work has become more prominent as they track new government guidelines and regulations that restrict public access to data.