Sunday, June 17, 2007

on july 5, some of us may find out if we were searched using a DoJ national security letter!

okay -- a long, long while ago, and several
blogs far-far-away from here
, i put to-
gether the following schematic -- which
became the basis for an a.c.l.u. phamplet
on what all was wrong with section 215 of
the patriot act's first incarnation -- click to enlarge:

over the ensuing years, various truly
patriotic citizens and organizations have
filed suit to obtain what the fourth amend-
ment plainly requires of government searches
of her own citizens -- either (a) notice that
the search was pursuant to probable cause,
backed by a judicially-issued warrant, or
(b) notice that the search was the result
of entirely temporary exigent circumstances,
where any delay required to obtain a warrant
would have very-likely led to the destruction
of evidence, or the commission of additional
crimes by the target. . .

now -- most triumphantly, it seems(!) -- the very
diligent, and patriotic, citizens over at the
electronic frontier foundation have broken through -- on
friday, judge bates, in the federal d.c. district
court, ordered the release of the first batch
of documents under these so-called "national
security letter
" searches ("n.s.l.") sought
under a long-pending e.f.f. f.o.i.a. request -- and,
after that, to be made available in open court. yes!

as detailed by this week's washington post article,
in many cases (perhaps tens of thousands of them),
the d.o.j. and f.b.i. used these n.s.l. searches -- or
the search, without any court supervision of any kind,
of u.s. citizens' personal records -- phone calls, mail,
e-mail, video rentals, library-books-checked-out, magazine
subscriptions, organizational-memberships, banking trans-
actions, credit card purchases, plane-reservations, etc., all
wholly-unrelated to any terror plot
, or any terror connection. . .

and, as indicated in the graphic on section 215, above,
they did so without ever notifying, even after the fact,
the searched citizen that his or her fourth amendment
rights may have been compromised -- as was previously
the standing practice -- for nearly three decades,
post-watergate. . .

and so it is not without a sense of irony that
judge bates has selected july 5, 2007, the first
business day after our national independence celebration
this year, as the liberation date for the first batch of
f.o.i.a. n.s.l. search records -- 500 pages are due
on that morning, with 2,500 more every month, with
progress reports to the court on meeting the time-
deadlines established in the judge's order.

sweet. but bitter-sweet too -- for we may now
learn that many of us -- myself plainly included
here -- were n.s.l.-searched in the early months
of 2002 through 2003. . . for lawfully-suggesting
that the government ought to honor all of
its historic promises to her people -- but especially
those contained in the fourth amendment -- designed
to protect the privacy of law-abiding citizens. . .

and the first -- to make no law regarding
the right of the people to peaceably
assemble (and freely-associate)
especially to petition her, for
the redress of grievances
. . .

as i plainly did.

the fact that i attended anti-war rallies, back
then, and met with organizers of an urban peace-
movement, should not -- absent some far more
sinister, and particularized, showing of intent
to over-throw the government by unlawful or
violent means -- be the basis for a warrantless,
permanently-no-notice, sealed-record, search

of my entirely private, personal and, it turns out,
entirely lawful communications, papers and effects. . .

now, of course mr. gonzales may appeal judge bates'
order -- but, it seems the july 5, 2007 date may hold.

so -- i'll close with a brief snippet from his order:

. . .Accordingly. . . the following schedule is ORDERED
for processing EFF's March 12, 2007, request:

a. processing, and resulting responses and releases,
shall be on a "rolling basis" as agreed by EFF and DOJ;

b. DOJ and the FBI shall provide the first response/
release within 20 days from this Order -- i.e., by
not later than July 5, 2007 -- in light of
the time that has already passed since filing of
the Second Hardy Declaration and the parties'
scheduling proposals;

c. subsequent responses/releases shall be provided
every 30 days, given that the preparation of a
response every 15 days (as suggested by EFF)
would be inefficient and unduly burdensome;

d. the FBI shall process 2500 pages every 30 days;

e. the search for responsive records shall be
completed by August 10, 2007, given the somewhat
lower volume of potentially responsive records
reflected in the representations to the Court
since the first Hardy Declaration and the slightly
faster pace of processing the Court is requiring;

f. DOJ shall file a report regarding the completion
of the search
for responsive records and the status
of the ongoing processing of records by not later
than August 14, 2007

g. the parties shall, by not later than August 20, 2007,
meet and confer regarding the completion of processing,
the provision of a Vaughn index, and a summary
judgment briefing schedule. . .

it is reliably estimated that over 100,000 pages
of such documents exist -- and are now available
for review by us -- as in "we, the people. . ."

indeed -- but will alberto gonzales, in truly-
cowardly fashion, appeal this ruling before it
may take effect
-- we'll know this week -- and
i'll report it, either way -- because if so, it is
likely also to come up at the senate, on thursday. . .

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