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Archive.org Defeats FBI's Demand For User Information 224

Posted by timothy
from the brewster-kahle-you're-my-hero dept.
eldavojohn writes "Although we don't know what they were after due to the settlement, a gag order was just released that kept Internet Archive member Brewster Kahle quiet. The FBI had issued a national security letter to them under the Patriot Act. Kahle fought it. Hard. The EFF came to the aid of his lawyers and what resulted was one of the only three times an NSL has been challenged: all three have been rescinded. The FBI agreed to open some of the court files now for it to be public. The ACLU added, 'That makes you wonder about the the hundreds of thousands of NSLs that haven't been challenged.'"
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Archive.org Defeats FBI's Demand For User Information

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  • by gnutoo (1154137) * on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @05:59PM (#23330512) Journal

    A five year prison term might be preferable to experiences like this [wired.com], especially when ratting out the FBI can save hundreds of thousands of innocent people from further constitutional abuse. I can not demand heroic action by others but I wish there had were more than three in the hundreds of thousands of abused citizens so far. Innocent people going to jail for protecting privacy of other innocent people would shut this monster program down fast.

    Vote for anyone but Republicans in 2008 and vote out everyone who had anything to do with the poorly named Patriot act.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:12PM (#23330642)
      That would be everyone in government of that time, except for Russ Feingold.
      • by NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:17PM (#23330716)

        That would be everyone in government of that time, except for Russ Feingold.
        ...and Ron Paul. I'm sure the very act of mentioning his name on Slashdot endangers my karma, but what the hell.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @07:51PM (#23331660)
          Grandparent's point was that Feingold was the only Senator to vote against it [senate.gov]. There were also 66 Representatives who opposed it [house.gov] (mostly Democrats, but yes, including Ron Paul.)
        • I guess there is one candidate for President that didn't vote for USAPATRIOT or the Iraq war...

          But that's an exercise for the reader.
          • by Maxmin (921568) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:25PM (#23331918)

            Obama didn't vote for either Patriot Act or the Iraq War ... because he wasn't in office at the time. He did, however, vote *against* reauthorizing the Patriot Act. He's also on the record opposing the Iraq War, though I don't have handy the details of his war appropriations voting record.

            Interesting factoid about the Patriot Act: it was passed in a hurry (we all know), and it was presented as legal tools for fighting terrorists. Now, I'd be fine with that, on the face of it - however, DOJ has been heavily promoting it as set of laws (and amendments to existing laws) for fighting crime. Yes, they are promoting to district attorneys etc. using all those bypass-the-constitution-anti-terrorism goodies to inspect the accounts and lives of people who aren't suspected of terrorism.

            In other words, the Patriot Act doubles as an end-run around the Constitution for ordinary criminal cases. When I mention this in conversation to folks, many of them say they think this is fine! I don't.

            • That is the entire problem, the people who thought this was a great idea are the same ones who don't mind being watched.

              My big point of the year is this: The government isn't some far off, distant, thing that takes our money (and still is in debt), builds roads (to nowhere) and fights (immoral, illegal) wars. The government, in this great nation, IS the people. Once people realize this we can return to a society that valued freedom and the (history book) ideals that we were founded on.

              This country needs its own French Enlightenment. It needs to have some writers, thinkers and speakers who don't involve themselves in the process at that level but rediscover the ideals we have strayed from (liberty!) and promote them to the masses. When people start saying The Government can look into your life then it's time to remind them that they are trying to look into your life, they are the ones trying to police your life. Start examining them for flaws, with most people it's not hard, and manipulate them if you have to - they need to realize that this is a very slippery slope.
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by irwinmrosen (1285918)
              Obama voted *FOR* reauthorizing the Patriot Act, and has consistently voted for funding the war. Funny how he claims to represent change but is really more of the same.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Maxmin (921568)
                Yup, I got it wrong - it was Kucinich who voted against both. I misread a blog post summarizing Obama's floor speech on Patriot Act.
    • by Rycross (836649) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:15PM (#23330694)

      Vote for anyone but Republicans in 2008 and vote out everyone who had anything to do with the poorly named Patriot act.

      Personally, the voting record is more important to me than whether they have an R or D beside their name. If that means that I'm voting in Republicans then so be it. I'd rather have a Republican who refused to vote for the Patriot Act than a Democrat who dropped to his knees and pucked up to the Bush administration. Not that there are many Republicans who fit that description...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Vote for anyone but Republicans in 2008 and vote out everyone who had anything to do with the poorly named Patriot act.

        Personally, the voting record is more important to me than whether they have an R or D beside their name. If that means that I'm voting in Republicans then so be it. I'd rather have a Republican who refused to vote for the Patriot Act than a Democrat who dropped to his knees and pucked up to the Bush administration. Not that there are many Republicans who fit that description...

        Ron Paul is a republican who refused to vote for the Patriot Act.

    • by rho (6063) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:20PM (#23330750) Homepage Journal

      Resist the temptation to make this partisan. Democrats were perfectly willing to vote for the PATRIOT Act and then try to excuse their complicity after the fact. That is not a commendable act.

      • by Rycross (836649) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:24PM (#23330796)
        Or giving Bush a blank check to wage war for that matter. Not that I think that the Democrats are worse than the Republicans, on whole. I think the Republicans, as an organization, are definitely more corrupt. But the Democrats failed to take a solid stand when it mattered, and I'm not going to forget that, even if I vote Democrat out of necessity.
        • by Urza9814 (883915) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @07:08PM (#23331292)
          That's why you vote for Obama. Clinton supported the PATRIOT act. Clinton supported the war. Obama was against both of those. I was honestly planning on voting Libertarian, because I can't bring myself to vote for anyone who supports the PATRIOT act and all this other crap...but Obama fits that quite well.
          • Incorrect. (Score:2, Informative)

            by 3p1ph4ny (835701)
            I'm not sure what kind of crack you're smoking, but Barack Obama voted to renew the PATRIOT act.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Auckerman (223266)
          You can almost forgive them for that. Most of them voted to authorize the Commander in Chief to do whatever is necessary to keep the US safe when they voted to support the troop build up and that permission to use them if needed. Very few assumed the Office of the President would use it's power in a knowingly needless way, which it appears is exactly what the President did.

          The entire pretense for the invasion was a lie, we know it was a lie because up until Sept 11, 2001 when reporters asked anyone in the
      • by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @07:56PM (#23331702)
        Personally I think whoever chose the name of the bill and made sure it was rushed through without time for it to be read should be imprisoned as a driving force back to monarchy. Voting against it was deliberately made to look unpatriotic. Without being able to consider the content the vote was on the name alone - so the vote was along the lines of "do you want to look like a dirty commie or not? The guy that wants to be King says it's a good idea and if you go againt the King you go against the country".
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by symbolic (11752)
          My understanding is that it wasn't rushed through - the original draft was debated for about three weeks, and had very strong bipartisan support. Enter Bush & Co stage left. They took the bill, modified it quite substantially, and then after having had the presses run overtime printing it through the night, made it available the morning of the vote. Nobody had a chance to read it, much less understand its implications.

          What puzzles me is why Congress even voted on this version rather than tossing every c
    • by niko9 (315647) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:26PM (#23330822)

      A five year prison term might be preferable to experiences like this [wired.com], especially when ratting out the FBI can save hundreds of thousands of innocent people from further constitutional abuse. I can not demand heroic action by others but I wish there had were more than three in the hundreds of thousands of abused citizens so far. Innocent people going to jail for protecting privacy of other innocent people would shut this monster program down fast.


      Vote for anyone but Republicans in 2008 and vote out everyone who had anything to do with the poorly named Patriot act.

      You had me right up until "Vote for anyone but Republicans...

      Us against them. Good over evil. With or against us. Sheep think in those terms.

      The emotional rhetoric from politicians never ends and their simple minded constituents emulate that behavior instead of engaging in critical thinking.

      You do realize that there were PLENTY of Democrats that had voted for the Patriot Act. Hell, IIRC 99% of Congress didn't even read the God damn thing!

      • by wwahammy (765566) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @07:30PM (#23331490)
        Nobody read it. The Senate received the bill at 6 AM for a 9 AM vote. The bill ran to hundreds of pages. Not one member of Congress could have read it and understood the consequences of the bill in less than 3 hours.

        Russ Feingold said at the time he wasn't necessarily opposed to the bill but couldn't vote for something with such sweeping changes without having time to read or research it. He has said since then that after reviewing it he supports about 95% of the things in the bill. He strongly opposes that other 5% that is total crap.

        Man I love having him as my Senator :)
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by arodland (127775)
        So vote for anyone except Republicans and Democrats. Actually... don't vote. It's a scam.
      • by hxnwix (652290) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:12PM (#23331808) Journal

        You had me right up until "Vote for anyone but Republicans..." Sheep think in those terms.
        And you had me right up until "sheep think in those terms."

        Republicans are well known for holding the line and sticking to their talking points. They've worked hard to earn this reputation, and there's no reason to forget that they've repeatedly unified behind awful ideas.

        Obama voted against the AUMF and filibustered the permanent reauthorization of the PATRIOT act. Additionally, he wont be tempted to hold the Republican line, seeing as how he is a Democrat.

        The same logic applies to other good Democrats. It works against the Republicans - we need look no farther than Ron Paul to see what happens to Republicans who respect the constitution and the rule of law.
        • by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:54PM (#23332618)

          we need look no farther than Ron Paul to see what happens to Republicans who respect the constitution and the rule of law.
          They run for President?
        • by niko9 (315647)

          You had me right up until "Vote for anyone but Republicans..." Sheep think in those terms.

          And you had me right up until "sheep think in those terms."

          Republicans are well known for holding the line and sticking to their talking points. They've worked hard to earn this reputation, and there's no reason to forget that they've repeatedly unified behind awful ideas.

          Obama voted against the AUMF and filibustered the permanent reauthorization of the PATRIOT act. Additionally, he wont be tempted to hold the Republican line, seeing as how he is a Democrat.

          The same logic applies to other good Democrats. It works against the Republicans - we need look no farther than Ron Paul to see what happens to Republicans who respect the constitution and the rule of law.

          You're comparing one politician to the whole Republican party? Whoopee do! Dear citizen, let me fix your paragraph for you:

          Democrats are well known for holding the line and sticking to their talking points. They've worked hard to earn this reputation, and there's no reason to forget that they've repeatedly unified behind awful ideas.

          A quick Google search reveals that Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Mark Hatfield (R-OR) voted against the AUMF resolution. So your argument proves nothing.

          The GP seemed to

      • Us against them. Good over evil. With or against us. Sheep think in those terms.
        In all fairness, I really don't think they do. It is my understanding that a sheep's thought process is more akin to:
        "Sleep. Food. Food. Sleep." ...ram approaches..."Sleep. Sex. Sex. Sex. Food. Sleep."

    • At this point in my life, I wouldn't mind going to prison for five years for violating an NSL gag order, as long as I was able to tell the public what the hell the FBI wanted. I don't have kids or family to support, and only student loans debt.
    • We live with systems based on fictions and it is time for the truth to prevail. No govenment, army or police power can stop 100 million people acting in unity. We need to transfer power to the collective eliminting egoic intentions and special interests from warping insitituions, industries, and professions. Paramount to the success of the collective is the preservation of the liberties of the individual, the freedom of expression and the pursuit of happiness with no fear of persecution. For it is the pi
      • by Obfuscant (592200)
        You think out of 100 million people, nobody will be having "egoic intentions"?

        You think out of 100 million people, they won't pass laws that suppress, repress, digress, and every other 'ess, those who make up the other 150 or more million in this country?

        The "pioneer, radical, outcast" you claim are essential simply won't be part of any collective.

        The impetus for change comes from inside. Kruschev said he'd bury us. He banged his shoe on the lecturn. Banging his shoe on the lecturn did nothing. It's

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by teebob21 (947095)
      I agree with you that heroic stands need to be made in the face of abuses of constitutional rights; in fact, I wholeheartedly agree with the entire first paragraph. However, even though this will get modded down into oblivion, your final sentence ruins the entire spirit of the post, turning it from an insightful, inspriational comment into a partisan insult. (Disclaimer: I am not affiliated or registered with any major party, though I did vote for Bush in 2000) Abuses of personal privacy by the FBI/CIA are
      • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @07:03PM (#23331240)
        The Dubya Bush administration is like a paranoid meth addict

        Yes. But not because of the attacks anymore, they fear you, their people. And it's not an isolated phenomenon. You can see it all over the "western" world, with more and more paranoid surveillance laws coming into existance. Most of them targeting the internet, which is a perfect tool to assemble and organize people of the same interests. Interests that may and often do go diametrally against the goals of our governments.

        The advantage governments have over their subjects is that they are organized. No, don't laugh, I know how bureaucracy weighs it down, but they have the advantage of having trained specialists in every field necessary. Something you don't have. You are not a lawyer, bureaucrat, IT professional, PR guru and fundraiser all rolled into one. That's what gives your government an edge over you (in case one wants to stand up against the government). With the internet, people can organize and gain access to the same specialists the government has.

        The same holds true for corporations, btw.

        Now, the internet also allows organisation of partisan groups who won't just fight with legal means but also illegal ones. And that's what they're really afraid of. Since they already managed to bleed the "lower incomes" completely dry, not only siphoning away the little rest of their savings but also pushing them so deeply into debt that they can't spend anymore, the meager rest of the middle class is the next target. The divide between rich and poor opens wider, the number of poor people growing, and it's a matter of time until the mob reaches critical mass again. Their attempt with the increased surveillance is to make sure it's easy to identify the "heads" of such movements and decapitate them before they can gain momentum.
      • by OldFish (1229566) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @07:28PM (#23331474)

        See the Patriot Act for what it was in historical terms: a reactionary measure passed and supported by representatives of a hurting, angry nation. Considering the national mood at the time, it was the "right" thing to do: Americans were more than happy to give up essential liberties for Bush's promise of temporary security. His approval ratings set new historical record highs in the weeks immediately following the 9/11 attacks and the start of the Afghan war.
        You are being naive. Passage of the Act was actively exploitative of a shocked and fearful nation. It was a massive power grab timed to take advantage of a disoriented country. You are too easy on the perpetrators of the anti-Constitution Patriot Act.
    • What this really needs is a logo. Something people recognize and associate with determination. I'd vote for a hand holding a HD and "from my cold, dead hands" written below it.
    • by k1e0x (1040314)
      You think democrats will get rid of it.. ha. Vote them ALL out.
    • by pilgrim23 (716938) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @07:39PM (#23331558)
      Why does this remind me of the "lettre de cachet"? -a fill-in-the-blank warrant the rent a thug is sent out with where he fills it in as he needs. France got rid of them in 1790, our Constitution has provisions against this. Now all it takes is a Lawer with a power tie and a BIC Pen to ruin your life.
      Welcome to the Land of the Free.....Have you any rights to declare?
    • I think there's also a large number of democrats who supported the Patriot Act, but now say they don't because of it's lack of popularity.

      Just like they wanted to go to war, but now they claim they never wanted to go.

      When you start to call parties out, instead of individuals, you are only adding to the problem.
  • well done Internet Archive.
  • Stupid Questions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:14PM (#23330684) Homepage Journal
    I thought you couldn't discuss a NSL, so how would we know that hundreds of thousands of them have been issued?

    Are they tracked somewhere publicly, and wouldn't that defeat the whole point of being secret about them?

    And given that these are clear-cut violations of free speech, how is it that the entire NSL program still exists? The first time one of these was challenged, I thought any judge worth their salt would declare the NSL anti-constitutional.
    • by Aranykai (1053846)
      It boils down to trade liberty for security.
      I'm in no way condoning their actions, but its human nature to "cheat" or "lie" just a little for the better good. However, in this case, its affecting more people that most realize.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Brandano (1192819)
        It's been repeated to death, but that was an obvious prompting: "A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither" Thomas Jefferson, American 3rd US President (1801-09). Author of the Declaration of Independence. 1762-1826
    • Re:Stupid Questions (Score:5, Informative)

      by Gat0r30y (957941) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:22PM (#23330772) Homepage Journal

      The first time one of these was challenged, I thought any judge worth their salt would declare the NSL anti-constitutional.
      Already happened [aclu.org] To quote:

      In September 2004, Judge Victor Marrero of the Southern District of New York issued a landmark decision striking down the NSL statute and the associated gag provision. In striking down the gag provision, Judge Marrero wrote: "Democracy abhors undue secrecy. . . . [A]n unlimited government warrant to conceal, effectively a form of secrecy per se, has no place in our open society." The government has said it will appeal Judge Marrero's decision. Accordingly, the case is likely to be before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in early 2005.
      So maybe someday it will get before an appeals court, and then maybe someday much later, there is the possibility it could go before the supreme court, if they would hear it. Then it could be struck down.
      • Interesting idea. I imagine a lot of what the Supreme Court will do about these NSLs depends on who's in the White House come next year; both in terms of nominating replacement Justices and in terms of the Justices not wanting to hand too much power to someone they don't want to have it.
      • Re:Stupid Questions (Score:5, Informative)

        by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:34PM (#23330914) Journal

        The problem is all the "ifs" in that. "If" the Supreme Court grants certiorari.... That's such a big "if" that it's not even funny.... They've proven remarkably resistant to any attempts to strike down challenges to the "Patriot" Act in the past, up to and including the refusal to grant standing for a challenge to anyone who could not prove that their privacy had been violated in the wire tapping case.

        There are just too many Bush nominees on the court for this to get struck down as unconstitutional. Bush could probably wipe his backside with the Constitution, then declare martial law and postpone the election and they probably wouldn't overrule him....

        • by Gat0r30y (957941)
          Sure, they may be Bush nominees, but its really pretty clear that this is unconstitutional - I cannot imagine even Scalia arguing that this is constitutional. Even a cursory glance by a fair court should (thats a big should) strike this down.
          • Given the large amount of NSLs that have been issued it would be fair to suspect that if anyone wanted to act on this abuse it would have happened by now. Instead it takes pressure from outside the system to start addressing this - that sort of says it all, no?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Qzukk (229616)
              that sort of says it all, no?

              The three that challenged it broke the "law" by so much as telling their lawyer that they had received The Letter. I'm sure that if The Letters permitted people to discuss them, more than three people would have spoken to their lawyers and done something about it.
          • by dgatwood (11270)

            I've disagreed with just about everything I've read from Scalia. The only person I've disagreed with more frequently (or maybe just as frequently) is Clarence Thomas. I can't imagine Scalia defending anything other than a strict reading of the literal words of the constitution, and a strict reading of the words of the constitution would say that a wire tap isn't a search or a seizure. It is watching from afar, and he'd probably say it falls into the "plain view doctrine" or some other such obvious bullsh

        • by nexuspal (720736)
          Wow, I never thought of the postpone the elections part... Maybe that comes after the "War" with Iran...
    • Re:Stupid Questions (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:29PM (#23330844) Journal

      The first time one of these was challenged, I thought any judge worth their salt would declare the NSL anti-constitutional.

      You'd think that, but you'd be forgetting that the courts have been packed by Republicans for the last 7 1/2 years, and cumulatively, 19/12 out of the last 28 years. The courts are no more able to defend civil liberties than we are at this point; they have been too thoroughly packed with people for whom civil liberties is a dirty word associated with "flaming liberals" and "tree hugging hippies".

      Yes, the NSLs are blatantly unconstitutional and represent a direct attack upon the rights of individuals to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, among other things. They also dramatically expand the power of the government to monitor the citizenry in ways that the Constitution never intended to allow and, indeed, which could not reasonably have been foreseen by the funding fathers at all. This is why the Constitution must be a living document that must be periodically revisited and updated by people whose goal is preserving liberty, not concentrating government power. Unfortunately, the Constitution's fatal flaw is that the only way it recognizes for updating the constitution is through a process that does not readily allow for apolitical review (well, not counting judicial enhancement of the Constitution through binding precedents).

      For the Constitution to truly be effective, it needs a procedure for review and amendment that formally allows for and defines the process for constitutional conventions and public referendums so that a proposed Constitutional amendment, upon receiving a 2/3rds of the popular vote in two consecutive election cycles, becomes ratified without the need to go through Congress or the state governments (but subject to judicial findings of unconstitutionality if it violates any fundamental Constitutional principles). Only then can the Constitution be a truly living document that protects civil liberties in the face of those who would turn our government into a totalitarian regime, given the opportunity.

      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @07:02PM (#23331228) Homepage
        cumulatively, 19/12 out of the last 28 years.

        *thinks a moment* So... 44 1/3rd years? Hehe, jk.

        They also dramatically expand the power of the government to monitor the citizenry in ways that the Constitution never intended to allow and, indeed, which could not reasonably have been foreseen by the funding fathers at all.

        They didn't have to, any more than they had to foresee telephone or e-mail tapping, because the wording of the 4th Amendment is technology agnostic. That's the way it should be. That's why when a case of warrantless e-mail reading came before the court, the judge ruled that this was illegal. Without having to have a whole Constitutional amendment just for email (and one for text messaging, and one for IM, etc etc etc).

        We don't need any change to the Constitution whatsoever to stop these abuses. We just need for the Constitution as written to be enforced. That is the problem, and making it easier to modify the Constitution would not make it more likely to be enforced. We already have an amendment that covers these situations; if you think the problem is stacked courts, why do you think they would enforce some new amendment that covers the exact same thing?

        The only thing it would make more likely is that when another "ZOMG teh terrists are attacking! I can has ur liberties?" moment occurs, the people will not only allow it, they will enshrine it in the highest law of our land. At least USAPATRIOT expires, and parts of it have already had rulings against it as constitutional. You can't rule an amendment unconstitutional; and amendment is constitutional by definition.

        Our system isn't perfect, but our Constitution is damn good and one of its strengths is that it can't be changed easily.

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          *thinks a moment* So... 44 1/3rd years? Hehe, jk.

          Smart aleck.... That'll teach me to watch the typos... or better yet, use decimal numbers. 19.5 out of the last 28.

          We don't need any change to the Constitution whatsoever to stop these abuses. We just need for the Constitution as written to be enforced. That is the problem, and making it easier to modify the Constitution would not make it more likely to be enforced. We already have an amendment that covers these situations; if you think the problem is st

      • In all fairness, both parties trample on the Constitution, and the Supreme Court is usually fairly balanced between the two parties.

        I'd also contend that most people in this country consider Republican a dirty word these days, not hippy or liberal.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        >You'd think that, but you'd be forgetting that the courts have been packed by Republicans for the last 7 1/2 years,

        You know it's possible to be a Republican and actually support the constitution, right?
        • by dgatwood (11270)

          Yeah, but they haven't had a very good track record lately. Then again, the Democrats haven't had a great track record lately, either, just not as bad a track record....

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by oodaloop (1229816)

      I thought you couldn't discuss a NSL, so how would we know that hundreds of thousands of them have been issued?
      That number bothers me too. I think it's just an arbitrary large round number the ACLU used to emphasize their point. There were probably a large number, out of which some number were unwarranted, but these exaggerations don't help anyone.
    • by whathappenedtomonday (581634) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:59PM (#23331196) Journal

      how would we know that hundreds of thousands of them have been issued? Are they tracked somewhere publicly, and wouldn't that defeat the whole point of being secret about them?

      I'm not saying that sometimes it helps to actually RTFA, but anyway:

      Though FBI guidelines on using NSLs warned of overusing them, two Congressionally ordered audits revealed that the FBI had issued hundreds of illegal requests for student health records, telephone records and credit reports. The reports also found that the FBI had issued hundreds of thousands of NSLs since 2001, but failed to track their use. In a letter to Congress last week, the FBI admitted it can only estimate how many NSLs it has issued.

      Unconstitutional or not, the whole NSL / PATRIOT stuff screams "abuse me" at 130dB.

    • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @07:05PM (#23331266)

      I thought you couldn't discuss a NSL...

      You are probably thinking of Fight Club, the US government is committed to transparency and the rule of law.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cobaltnova (1188515)

        I thought you couldn't discuss a NSL...

        You are probably thinking of Fight Club,
        +2 Insightful

        the US government is committed to transparency and the rule of law.
        +3 Funny

        Seriously, with abuses like the Patriot Act and NSLs, I can't help but chuckle.
    • Re:Stupid Questions (Score:5, Informative)

      by tjohns (657821) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @07:12PM (#23331326) Homepage

      I thought you couldn't discuss a NSL, so how would we know that hundreds of thousands of them have been issued?

      According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], semi-annual reports need to be made to congress, including a non-classified count of National Security Letters issued.

      The US Department of Justice also performed an audit [usdoj.gov] in 2007 that contains some more statistics.

  • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:16PM (#23330702) Homepage Journal

    Boy, I'm sure the telcos are hating this. This story shows once and for all that "the government told me to" is not a valid excuse for violating civil rights.

    • But one would have thought that since the nuremberg process "I was ordered to do so" would have NEVER AGAIN been allowed to be a valid excuse. Guess what ? Those who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it. (yeah i know I am comparing a crime against humanity against small petty fascism, but wait a few years and who knows where the US will slide down on that slope).
  • by FromTheAir (938543) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:31PM (#23330880) Homepage
    The greatest threat to our nation is secret police powers because it allows a small group of people to take control of the government and eliminate any opposition. It is a much greater threat than any of the fictional threats.

    Allowing small group of people that benefit disproportionably to the many, to create an indentured servitude is not patriotic, fighting it is. The maintaining of the separation of powers, protecting the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution as well as defending them is the is the ultimate Patriotic Act.

    It is time for transfer of power from the few to the many, the wise (conservative) and those that value freedom (liberal), and those that value both, (party free independents for collective control).

    Laws of changed such that we have become cattle simply to be herded and this is most unpatriotic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by oodaloop (1229816)

      The maintaining of the separation of powers, protecting the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution as well as defending them is the is the ultimate Patriotic Act.

      I'm no fan of the Patriot Act, but I'd just like to point out something that bothers me. It seems the people on the left most vocal about defending the Constitution and the intent of its founders are the ones most determined to destroy its second amendment. Our founders intended us to have freedom of speech, to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, and to be able to have military weapons to defend ourselves and our nation. It's one package.

      • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:24PM (#23331894)
        Nice strawman. Got any proof?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BlueStrat (756137)
          Our founders intended us to have freedom of speech, to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, and to be able to have military weapons to defend ourselves and our nation. It's one package.

          Nice strawman. Got any proof?

          Proof *does* exist. However, to read it will require a very careful and thorough cleaning beforehand with lots of disinfectant, odor-eliminators, and use of rubber gloves. You can probably find it floating at the top of a sewer reclamation plant pool in the Washington, D.C. area. Oh, and
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @06:48PM (#23331074)
    Newest entry on US no-fly list: Brewster Kahle
  • Vote the Republicans out of the White House. Then the deceptively-named USA PATRIOT act can be repealed in its entirety, and America can go back to being America.
    • Uh. What's stopping Congress from doing that now?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MulluskO (305219)
        A narrow majority and the president's veto authority.

        Of course, a principled conservative might oppose the patriot act in support of smaller government, but conservatives are on the whole unprincipled.
        • by treeves (963993)

          Of course, a principled politician might oppose a lot of things in support of smaller government, but politicians are on the whole unprincipled.

          Fixed that for you, as they say. IOW, it's an oxymoron. Democrat or Republican.

          • by treeves (963993)
            and, yes, I know the principle of smaller government is a conservative one, not a liberal one (at least in the modern definitions of those terms).
  • Here is the URL of March 2007 " A Review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Use of National Security Letters" published by the Office of the Inspector General. Note section IV, "Improper or Illegal Use of National Security Letter Authorities." http://cryptome.org/fbi-nsl/fbi-nsl.htm [cryptome.org] A link to the pdf is available there as well.
  • by LockeOnLogic (723968) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @07:20PM (#23331410)
    I recognize the fact that there are times in which the violation of privacy and the suspension of certain rights are necessary for security reasons. However, I have never heard a valid reason as to how judicial oversight and transparency interferes with this. In what way does due process hinder investigations? Is it a time efficiency thing? No problem, lets streamline the process and allocate more resources to quicken it. Will it clue in those being investigated? No problem, we could have clauses which delay but never prevent full disclosure. Why does does this kind of request NEED to be secret? The only conclusion I can draw is that it must be secret because it is illegal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by digitalunity (19107)
      That's kind of my whole take on the matter. Unless the legislative or executive branch is concerned that the judicial branch ARE the terrorists, then the only reason to prevent judicial oversight for this program is because there is no probable cause.

      Nobody has given me a reason either as to why this needs to be done warrantless. We have a whole court set up for proceedings of a secretive nature. I see no reason why we can't simply expand that court to meet demand, as opposed to circumventing it entirely.

      I
  • Its getting so bad that many of the details found on the Stazi police wiki entry [wikipedia.org] can be cut and pasted straight into the FBI wiki.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jesus_666 (702802)
      It's "Stasi", with two s. "Stasi" is an abbreviation for "Staatssicherheit", as in "Ministerium für Staatssicherheit" ("Ministery for State Security").

      By the way, don't "Ministery for State Security" and "Department of Homeland Security" sound awfully similar? I don't know whether the DHS's name is unfortunate or just cynical...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The court documents are available as well as other information.

    We hope this helps de-spook some of these demands and encourages other libraries and recipients to consult lawyers and consider their alternatives.

    http://www.archive.org/iathreads/post-view.php?id=192021

  • by Dog-Cow (21281) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @08:20AM (#23335822)
    The name is rather more appropriate than it might seem at first glance when you realize the purpose of the bill is to identify and remove any and all patriots.

A CONS is an object which cares. -- Bernie Greenberg.

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