Here's one. You are forbidden from telling anyone you saw it. Originally you were forbidden from complaining to anyone about it. The National Security Letter in this federal court decision was an FBI demand for customer information from an Internet provider. They fought it. Vleeptron can't identify the Internet provider. It's a National Security thing.
Reuters (UK/world newswire)
Thursday 6 September 2007
U.S. judge strikes down
FBI secrecy orders
by Edith Honan
NEW YORK -- A provision of the Patriot Act that requires people who are formally contacted by the FBI for information to keep it a secret is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero sided with the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit and argued that an FBI letter requesting information -- called a National Security Letter -- is effectively a gag order but without the authorization of a judge.
The FBI tells people who receive the letters to keep them secret, but recipients can challenge the secrecy order in court under a 2006 congressional amendment to the NSL law.
The law says judges must defer to the FBI's view that secrecy is necessary, undermining the judiciary's check on the power of the executive branch, the ACLU said.
In a written ruling issued on Thursday, Marrero said the gag order violated the First Amendment guarantee of free speech and was unconstitutional.
Marrero based his ruling on the seriousness of the potential intrusion on privacy and on "the significant possibility of a chilling effect on speech and association -- particularly of expression that is critical of the government or its policies."
Government lawyers had argued that the FBI's need to ensure that targets remained unaware of an investigation outweighed the free speech rights of NSL recipients.
The ACLU brought the lawsuit on behalf of an unidentified Internet access company that received an NSL.
The company filed suit in April 2004. In September 2004 Marrero found the NSL gag violated free speech rights and struck it down as unconstitutional.
The government appealed the ruling, but Congress amended the NSL provision in its reauthorization of the Patriot Act last year before an appeals court could hear the case.
The revised NSL provision -- allowing the gag to be challenged in court -- was then sent back to Marrero.
The FBI dropped its demand for information from the Internet company a year ago, but the gag remained in place.
"The decision reaffirms that the courts have an important and constitutionally mandated role to play when national security policies infringe on First Amendment rights," said Jameel Jaffer, an ACLU lawyer who argued the case.
The U.S. Attorney's office did not have an immediate comment.
Marrero prohibited the Justice Department and the FBI from issuing NSLs but delayed enforcement for 90 days pending an expected appeal by the government or congressional action.
The ACLU says more than 143,000 NSLs were issued between 2003 and 2005.
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Born 1941 in Santurce, PR
Federal Judicial Service:
Judge, U. S. District Court, Southern District of New York
Nominated by William J. Clinton on May 27, 1999, to a seat vacated by Sonia Sotomayor; Confirmed by the Senate on October 1, 1999, and received commission on October 5, 1999.
New York University, B.A., 1964
Yale Law School, LL.B., 1968
Assistant to the mayor, New York City, 1968-1970
Assistant administrator/neighborhood director, Model Cities Admin, New York City, 1970-1973
Executive director, Department of City Planning, New York City, 1973-1974
Special counsel to the comptroller, New York City, 1974-1975
First assistant counsel to the governor, State of New York, NY, 1975-1976
Chairman, City Planning Commission, New York City, 1976-1977
Commissioner and vice chairman, New York State Housing Finance Agency, 1978-1979
U.S. Undersecretary of Housing and Urban Development, 1979-1981
Private practice, New York City, 1981-1993
U.S. Ambassador on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, 1993-1997
U.S. Ambassador/Permanent Representative of the U.S. to the Org. of American States, 1998-1999
Race or Ethnicity: Hispanic