Apr 16, 2008

Congress Introduces Bills to Curb FBI Spy Powers

Good news here per this Washington post (linked) article. Ron Paul is behind one of these bills, which in particular restores some Constitutional bounds in regard to domestic surveillance. (Of course these letters are still much more loose than the requirements of the 4th Amendment, which requires judicial warrants exclusively "issued upon probable cause"). This legislation will need a public push, even though it is very reasonable.

Watch the Bush administration (and neocon Attorney General Mukasey) begin the fear mongering about "summer terrorism threats", which is the typical pattern when opposition legislation, consistent with the Constitution, arises.

Lawmakers Want FBI Access to Data Curbed

Bipartisan groups in Congress are pressing to place new controls on the FBI's ability to demand troves of sensitive personal information from telephone providers and credit card companies, over the opposition of agency officials who say they deserve more time to clean up past abuses....

The House bill, sponsored by Nadler, Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), would tighten the language governing when national security letters could be used, by requiring that they clearly pertain to investigations of a foreign power or an agent instead of just being considered "relevant" to such investigations.

The House bill would also force the FBI to destroy information that had been illegally obtained -- something that existing rules do not require -- and it would allow the recipient of a letter to file a civil lawsuit if the missive is found to be illegal or without sufficient factual justification.

A Senate bill, sponsored by Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and John E. Sununu (R-N.H.), would require the FBI to track its use of the letters more carefully and would narrow the types of records that can be obtained with a letter, and therefore without judicial approval, to those that are least sensitive.