Hat tip to John Riley for sending me a press report about tU.S. District Judge Susan Illston, who recently ruled that national security letters (NSL) that come with a gag order on the recipient are unconstitutional because they impinge the First Amendment.
She also ordered the government to stop issuing NSLs and to cease enforcing the gag provisions in other cases. She did stay her ruling for 90 days to allow the government time to appeal. The FBI says it issued over 50,000 NSLs in the 2009-2011 time frame.
The article does a really good job of going through the history of NSLs, including the fact that these letters, which don't require court approval, have been abused in many cases – and that finding came from a Justice Department Inspector General audit. So long as the FBI asserts that the information is relevant, it simply self-issues NSLs.
Never been a fan, never thought there was adequate oversight – and hope that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds this decision.
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