Some brave, truly patriotic American, came forward and risked being thrown in jail to challenge a National Security Letter received from the FBI requesting . . . well, we don’t know what exactly.
The ACLU filed suit under seal in Connecticut stating that the National Security Letters are unconstitutional. While redacted portions of the suit have been released, no one but the parties involved knows who the records were requested from, what records were requested, or much of anything at this point.
What we do know is that the FBI used a power granted to it under the Unpatriotic Act (formally known as the USA PATRIOT Act) which allows it to request records such as what books a person has checked out from a library or what Web sites a person has visited on the library’s computers. We do know that the party who filed the suit maintains such records.
We do know that the National Security Letter provides no procedural or substantive due process. We do know that one federal court has already found that it violates the First and Fourth Amendments, but the judge stupidly let the government continue using the law while it tries to appeal the decision.
Congress is set to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the Patriot Act reauthorization next month. While neither is ideal, the Senate version contains more safeguards for our essential freedom than the House version, and the ACLU is urging everyone to contact their representatives and Senators and urge them to pass the Senate version.
As I’ve said before, I would have let the whole unconstitutional mess sunset. If we continue along this path to make the U.S. “safe” from terrorism, we will also have made ourselves safe from liberty, as well. What, then, is the point of preventing our country from being destroyed from without, if its founding principles are destroyed from within?