Friday, September 07, 2007

warrantless actions unwarranted

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero struck down part of the Patriot Act - the part that allows the FBI to use something called "national security letters" to get phone and email records from people or businesses. Without a warrant. With essentially no judicial review. And the people who get the letters aren't even allowed to tell their lawyers that they have been forced to give up this information.

Judge Marrero wrote that these national security letters are "the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values." In his ruling, he also wrote that "The risk of investing the FBI with unchecked discretion to restrict such speech is that government agents, based on their own self-certification, may limit speech that does not pose a significant threat to national security or other compelling government interest."

In other words, the executive branch (in this case, the FBI) should not have a carte blanche to do whatever it wants just by invoking some threat related to terrorism or national security.

The de facto Bush Administration may appeal. Or hell, for all I know, Bush might just sign a statement saying he disagrees with Marrero's ruling and instructing those who toil for him in his unitary executive branch (which apparently doesn't include Dick Cheney) to ignore Marrero's ruling.


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