Join 3,432 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


free speech gagged--thanks to the Patriot Act
May 30, 2004 8:26 PM   Subscribe

National Security Letters and John Doe --once only issued against suspected terrorists and spies, NSLs now can be used, thanks to the Patriot Act, against all and any of us. John Doe, the currently gagged owner of a small ISP was targeted for the political speech of his customers and is fighting, along with the ACLU and others. More here (and more inside)
posted by amberglow (20 comments total)

 
The ACLU and its New York affiliate are also challenging a provision of the law that imposes a broad gag order on any entity that receives a National Security Letter, or NSL. 
"The gag provision silences those who are most likely to oppose the Patriot Act," ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in his affidavit to the court. ...
The ACLU is engaged in an ongoing dispute with the government over the extent of the sealing order in the case. Among the documents the ACLU posted for the first time today are the declaration of its "John Doe" client - an Internet Service Provider (ISP). 
"The government has now prohibited the disclosure of my name and my company’s name in connection with the case," Doe said in his declaration to the court. "They have provided no further clarification about what I can and cannot say." ...
The briefs detail the groups’ concerns that the law will have a chilling effect on communications online. As Garfinkel and the advocacy groups pointed out in their filings, the National Security Letter provision covers not only ISPs but any group that allows users to send messages from its website, such as the ACLU or Moveon.org. 

posted by amberglow at 8:27 PM on May 30, 2004


and a little more from msnbc
posted by amberglow at 8:30 PM on May 30, 2004


Erosion of our privacy
posted by homunculus at 8:45 PM on May 30, 2004


Sweet Jehosafuck. I'm told Kerry voted for this act. That's not very reassuring.

Not that you shouldn't all vote for him, my American friends, lovably imperfect as he may be.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 8:52 PM on May 30, 2004


A group I belong to held a panel discussion last year discussing the Patriot Act, and a number of concerns with it were brought up, but this is the first I had heard of this.

One of the things I know we had discussed was the sunset provisions on much of the law. Does anyone know how much is up for renewal and when?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:59 PM on May 30, 2004


The EFF says these are some of the ones scheduled to expire in 12/05 -- NSLs are on that list.
posted by amberglow at 9:02 PM on May 30, 2004


oops...actually that one isn't scheduled to sunset, but should...definitely.
posted by amberglow at 9:03 PM on May 30, 2004


For years I mocked the "gun nuts" who insisted that the right to bear arms was necessary to defend the citizenry from the excesses of its government.

I'm afraid I'm starting to come around to their way of thinking.
posted by SPrintF at 9:20 PM on May 30, 2004


Thanks, amberglow.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:23 PM on May 30, 2004


Remember, the Bill of Rights was written by a bunch of guys who overthrew the legal colonial government. If it wasn't for Cornwallis surrendering, they all would have been hung for treason. I am not sure the term "terrorist" had been invented yet.
posted by ilsa at 10:14 PM on May 30, 2004


Sweet Jehosafuck. I'm told Kerry voted for this act. That's not very reassuring.

This monstrosity was rammed thru after 9/11 and i doubt anyone other than the fascists tho wrote it knew what was in it. As i have read the thing is hundreds of pages and in a number cases all it says it to change a hand full of words in existing federal law, without giving any context. I dont think there was *any* debate on it. And clearly anyone who voted for it couldn't have read all of it, or perhaps even enough of it at the time.

The EFF says these are some of the ones scheduled to expire in 12/05 -- NSLs are on that list.

Remember Bus is pushing to make all of the Patriot act permanent and his hirelings want to add *more* to it.. PH33R
posted by MrLint at 11:33 PM on May 30, 2004


Can somebody please explain -- or at least, give a handwave -- over why this sort of provision would be consistitutional?

No one seems to even speak of challenging it on constutional grounds. Why?

It seems to me that it should be possible to combine the ninth amenment with either the fourth, fifth, sixth, or eighth, to provide a rationale for striking this down. Can someone give me an obvious reason why I'd be wrong about that?

I'm genuinely puzzled, here. If a basic thing like being able to publicly acknowledge that you've been charged for a crime can be circumvented this easily... we've got a major problem.
posted by lodurr at 11:42 PM on May 30, 2004


FOLLOWUP:

The MSNBC piece says:

"The lawsuit contends that NSLs are unconstitutional because of the gag order, because a recipient has no way of challenging their validity and because the government is not forced to justify its reasons for not notifying the target about the records being sought."

Left unsaid is what the basis for the arguments is. Most important: Why is the gag order unconstitutional? Becuase the other two provisions can be easily "fixed" and still leave a lethally powerful tool of oppression.
posted by lodurr at 11:50 PM on May 30, 2004


lodurr, not to be coy, but because the US is run by fascists. freedom loving fascists. Sorry I can't give you an answer less snarky. Reading stuff like this is depressing.
posted by chunking express at 11:53 PM on May 30, 2004


The US may seem to be run at this point by freedom loving fascists, but most of the people are the complete opposite. We will overthrow the leadership that we disagree with, and move on. Unfortunately, this will keep happening in the future. It is the conviction and traits of the people that will stand against tyranny as will be duly noted in the textbooks come 2004 presidential election.
posted by Keyser Soze at 12:34 AM on May 31, 2004


not to mention that seizing documents without a warrant is in violation of due process.
posted by MrLint at 1:14 AM on May 31, 2004


The US may seem to be run at this point by freedom loving fascists, but most of the people are the complete opposite.

Masochistic anarchists?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:18 AM on May 31, 2004


MrLint: Yes, this certainly looks like that to me, but then, IANAL.

chunking & keyser hit the optimistc and pessimistic sides of the counterpunch, which seems to boil down to "honor the people, not the law." And they're right, as far as they go, but we bother to do this with law for a reason: Because what those most people that Keyser appeals to ultimately obey law, whatever they can be convinced that it is.

So, again: Where is the law on this matter? Is this provision, in fact, unconstitutional? I certainly want to think so; but the constitutional challenges I've heard cited sound weak to this not-lawyer. It seems to me, at a gut level, that this should be an absurdum, where instead it seems to induce squirming from the civil liberties camp.

On Preview: Masochistic anarchists? There's another kind of anarchist?
posted by lodurr at 5:21 AM on May 31, 2004


We will overthrow the leadership that we disagree with, and move on...It is the conviction and traits of the people that will stand against tyranny as will be duly noted in the textbooks come 2004 presidential election.

Ah, optimism. I remember optimism.
posted by rushmc at 6:23 AM on May 31, 2004


The Secrets of Surveillance
posted by homunculus at 1:17 PM on June 1, 2004


« Older The World Press Photo awards...  |  Colin Wilson: 'Now they will r... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments