Debate continues over civil liberties erosion

Liberty News

Debate continues over civil liberties erosion

Terrorism on American soil prompted the Congress to grant federal authorities broad new powers to intercept cellphone calls, read emails and comb through business records of people suspected of threatening national security.

Post-Sept. 11 laws allowed the federal government to use National Security Letters to demand information about an individual from a third-party — such as an Internet service provider — without going to a judge for a traditional subpoena or warrant. The law imposed a gag order on recipients of the warrantless searches, making it a crime to disclose they had received a letter.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Inspector General found evidence in 2007 and 2008 of widespread abuse of the warrantless searches, with thousands of the letters having nothing to do with national security threats. In 2004, a federal judge declared the gag orders unconstitutional…

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