NSL UPDATE….Over at Unfogged, LizardBreath takes a look at the law governing National Security Letters and notes that it allows the FBI to use NSLs to request phone records only for investigations to “protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.” But that’s not what’s happening:
If the FBI is justified at all in seeking these phone records, it is justified only in that they are relevant to a criminal investigation ? an investigation of the leaking of classified material to reporters. And the FBI could plausibly get an order from a court, under the Pen Register Act, allowing it access to those records as relevant to a criminal investigation.
Instead, the FBI avoided the oversight of the courts, and issued NSLs for the records. While there is certainly an argument that could be made that the phone records in question are relevant to a leak investigation, a leak to a reporter, while it may be illegal, is neither terrorism nor a clandestine intelligence activity.
I wonder if we’ll be seeing some lawsuits over this in the future?