USA PATRIOT Act Increases Domestic Surveillance
“‘National security letters,’ created in the 1970s for espionage and terrorism investigations, originated as narrow exceptions in consumer privacy law, enabling the FBI to review in secret the customer records of suspected foreign agents. The [USA] Patriot Act, and Bush administration guidelines for its use, transformed those letters by permitting clandestine scrutiny of U.S. residents and visitors who are not alleged to be terrorists or spies.
“The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. Issued by FBI field supervisors, national security letters do not need the imprimatur of a prosecutor, grand jury or judge. They receive no review after the fact by the Justice Department or Congress.”
Barton Gellman. The FBI’s Secret Scrutiny. WashingtonPost.com. Nov. 6, 2005.
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