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Published:September 14th, 2007 14:25 EST
Courts Rebuke Bush Administration on Spying Laws

Courts Rebuke Bush Administration on Spying Laws

By SOP newswire

Two federal courts handed down stunning victories for civil liberties last week, starkly rejecting White House abuses of power through the Patriot Act and broad use of secrecy claims to dodge public accountability.

In the only legal challenge ever brought regarding the National Security Letter (NSL) provision of the amended Patriot Act, a New York federal court struck down the current rules. The NSL statute has permitted the FBI to issue secret demands for personal records without court approval. It also empowers the government to gag recipients from even discussing these NSLs.

Not only did District Court Judge Victor Marrero rule that this gag power violates the First Amendment and the fundamental separation of powers, he also found that, because the gag provisions could not be separated from the entire amended statute, the Patriot NSL statute must be struck down in its entirety. This is an historic affirmation of principle that extends beyond even the requests made in the ACLU’s legal brief!

Meanwhile, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. rejected broad claims of government secrecy in our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit over documents related to the Bush NSA wiretapping program. This ruling strikes another blow to the administration's sweeping and often unfounded secrecy claims and compels the Department of Justice, the FBI and the NSA to provide additional explanations for their withholding of many documents about the program, and the legal justifications for the program in particular.

Learn more about the NSA and NSLs on the ACLU website.