You Could Sue Us, But Then We'd Have to Kill You


How secret is the Patriot Act? So secret the ACLU had to redact the public version of a lawsuit it filed against it. An excerpt from a Washington Post story as reprinted in the no-reg Houston Chronicle:

The lawsuit was filed April 6 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, but the case was kept under seal to avoid violating secrecy rules contained in the USA Patriot Act, the ACLU said. The group was allowed to release a redacted version of the lawsuit after weeks of negotiations with the government.
The ACLU's lawsuit alleges that a section of the Patriot Act is unconstitutional because it allows the FBI to request financial records and other documents from businesses without a warrant or judicial approval. The group also says such requests, known as "national security letters," are being used much more broadly than they were before the Patriot Act.

The ACLU's complaint focuses on the use of national security letters to obtain information held by "electronic communication service providers." The group says the letters could force Internet providers to turn over customers' names, screen names, e-mail addresses and other information without notice to the individuals involved.

For more on this, including access to the redacted complaint, go here on the ACLU's Web site.

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  1. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will put a stop to it.

    The Supreme Court is party to it, Jennifer. That’s what happens when you terrify old, powerful people. It excites survival instincts that dictate they maintain both their lives and their power, no matter the cost.

    Remember Pearl Harbor? Remember what happened to Japanese Americans afterward? This is not new. The government is not, nor has it ever been, the moral compass it makes itself out to be.

  2. 18 USC 2709(c): No wire or electronic communication service provider, or officer, employee, or agent thereof, shall disclose to any person that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has sought or obtained access to information or records under this section.

    So why does the ACLU, which is not a wire or electronic communication service provider, have to redact its lawsuit? This isn’t just the blocking out of some ISP’s name – which would be understandable even in the context of that shitty law. There are numerous, whole complaints removed from that lawsuit. I want to see what’s up in those sections, even if it is just boring details.

    Fuckin a.Q. hit the wrong buildings.

  3. There are two things that I find interesting about the following quote.

    “The group also says such requests, known as ‘national security letters,’ are being used much more broadly than they were before the Patriot Act. ”

    The first is that these things were not created by the Patriot act. The existed before the act came into being. If they had not existed prior to the act, the term ‘more broadly than they were before the Patriot act.’ would read something like ‘more broadly than allowed by the Patriot act” or some such phrasing.

    The second thing is that there is a ‘post hoc ergo proctor hoc’ fallacy here. The Patriot act was passed shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Given the government’s realization that attacks on the US from people residing in the US were more likely than previous thought, I would expect the number of ‘national security letters’ to increase regardless of the passage of the Patriot act. The ACLU has misattributed at least part if not all of the increase to the Patriot act. Does not surprise me. The ACLU has always had trouble with math.

  4. How can it be Constitutional to have laws that the government can enforce but the people cannot know about? How can one follow the rules when the rules are not defined to the players? Oh, I forgot…this is the same administration that appointed Colin Powell Jr. to the FCC, where the rules are “if I don’t like you, you get fined.” Great.

  5. The administration is trying to destroy the system of checks and balances. Between this Patriot Act and the “enemy combatants” nonsense I’m pretty worried. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will put a stop to it.

  6. I’d just like to point out that the ACLU sued to protect the privacy of business records. Once again, BUSINESS records. As in private enterprises.

    The ACLU takes some heat on this forum, I just enjoy pointing out that now and then they go to bat for business too.

  7. Is this when I get to point out that the unforgivable stupidity of Japanese internment was done by a Democratic administration?

    OK, so the ACLU is ignorantly and arrogantly misrepresenting data to make a political statement. That’s bad. It’s poor form. It’s in poor taste. It’s low-class.

    But… if the ends really do justify the means… perhaps we should overlook the idiocy of their hijinx and try to remember that we ALL want to ensure civil liberty in this country.

    Perhaps they are picking the wrong battle, but at least they are in the right war.

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