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Friday, March 23, 2007

Washington Post Editorial Details Patriot Act Abuse Claim

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As I was reading Editor & Publisher today, I was shaken by the first story that I read. The journal includes an article about today’s Washington Post editorial, written by an anonymous writer, regarding a national security letter that the writer received while serving as the president of an Internet access firm. In the piece, the Internet consultant expresses discontent with the Patriot Act provision that gives the FBI expanded power to issue “national security letters.”

Here is some of what the writer said:

Three years ago, I received a national security letter (NSL) in my capacity as the president of a small Internet access and consulting business. The letter ordered me to provide sensitive information about one of my clients. There was no indication that a judge had reviewed or approved the letter, and it turned out that none had. The letter came with a gag provision that prohibited me from telling anyone, including my client, that the FBI was seeking this information. Based on the context of the demand -- a context that the FBI still won't let me discuss publicly -- I suspected that the FBI was abusing its power and that the letter sought information to which the FBI was not entitled …

Living under the gag order has been stressful and surreal. Under the threat of criminal prosecution, I must hide all aspects of my involvement in the case -- including the mere fact that I received an NSL -- from my colleagues, my family and my friends. When I meet with my attorneys I cannot tell my girlfriend where I am going or where I have been. I hide any papers related to the case in a place where she will not look. When clients and friends ask me whether I am the one challenging the constitutionality of the NSL statute, I have no choice but to look them in the eye and lie.

I resent being conscripted as a secret informer for the government and being made to mislead those who are close to me, especially because I have doubts about the legitimacy of the underlying investigation.


The anonymous writer also said that if he had not been under a gag order, he would have voiced his concerns about the Patriot Act. He also said he would have contacted Congress to disucss his experiences with the FBI and “to advocate changes in the law.”

Read the entire, disturbing, piece in today’s Washington Post.

8 comments:

Anne said...

Scary, to say the least. I wonder how many people/companies are getting the same treatment across America? I'm so glad that anonymous told his/her story to a newspaper.

Alicia Benjamin-Samuels said...

Anne,
And to think this guy has been going through this for three years ... unbelievable.

Anne said...

Hi. I was recently tagged for a meme by a fellow blogger. My assignment is to name five other bloggers who make me think. Then those five people are kindly requested to do the same. I hope you don't mind, I'm naming you as one of my five people. I'll understand if you're not the meme "type," but I wanted to let you know that I have named you because you make me think a lot.

Alicia Benjamin-Samuels said...

Anne,
I'm flattered that you've decided to meme me (Is that the right jargon?) I have to admit I had never heard of the "meme" thing until you brought it up. Am I suppose to now name bloggers who make me think? And if so, where do I send the list?
Thanks.
Alicia

Anne said...

I had never heard of a meme until fairly recently either. It's sort of a game. Someone gives you a task, you do it and post it on your blog, and then you "tag" some other people to do the same task. Then they do it and tag some people.
I've been tagged for a few memes before, such as the one where I was to draw a picture and post it. Another time I posted the 5th line of the 123rd page of the book nearest to me.
You can find an example of the meme du jour at my blog, the most recent post. You can follow the link back to Woozie (the person who tagged me) if you wish to see how he did it. (Please take it with a grain of salt if you see rough language or silliness there. He's a teenager and sometimes prone to silliness. ;) )
In any event, I'll be glad if you play along, but I don't want to pressure you. I would understand if this sort of thing is not your cup of tea. It's all in fun.

No said...

Yikes...hope you don't mind , but I'm going to post this Post article on my blog today..very scary..found your blog via Anne...nice to meet you!

Alicia Benjamin-Samuels said...

No,
By all means, post the Post article. Everybody needs to know about his one.
Peace,
Alicia

No said...

Thanks!