Thursday, September 6, 2007

Something Good Happened: I'll Be Damned

The goons (FBI) that have been harassing librarians finally got their comeuppance. I've been following this one for a long time. Librarians were getting these National Security Letters, or NSLs. They were just letters, but they demanded that the librarians comply and demanded that the librarians tell no one. That means they couldn't get a lawyer. They couldn't tell their boss. Nobody. The FBI used these same letters to get data from telephone companies and Internet providers. (About me and you, the terrorists)

But what did they want from librarians? A list of all the unreturned book perpetrators since 1959? Who the hell knows.

So, thanks to the ACLU for pushing the case (quoted excerpts from this HuffPo article):

A federal judge struck down parts of the revised USA Patriot Act on Thursday, saying investigators must have a court's approval before they can order Internet providers to turn over records without telling customers.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said the government orders must be subject to meaningful judicial review and that the recently rewritten Patriot Act "offends the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers."

Jameel Jaffer, who argued the case for the ACLU, said the revised law had wrongly given the FBI sweeping authority to control speech because the agency was allowed to decide on its own _ without court review _ whether a company receiving an NSL had to remain silent or whether it could reveal to its customers that it was turning over records.

In 2004, ruling on the initial version of the Patriot Act, the judge said the letters violate the Constitution because they amounted to unreasonable search and seizure. He found that the nondisclosure requirement _ under which an Internet service provider, for instance, would not be allowed to tell customers that it was turning over their records to the government _ violated free speech.