Civil Liberties Groups Add to Lawsuits against Justice Dept. over Secret FBI Patriot Act Power

Saturday, October 29, 2011
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed suit against the Department of Justice in order to learn more about a controversial interpretation of a section of the Patriot Act.
Both civil liberties groups are seeking all records tied to Section 215 of the law, which allows the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to require people to release any “tangible thing” pertaining to an investigation involving counterterrorism.
“Tangible things” could include anything from Internet browsing records to driver’s license numbers.
The plaintiffs claim the government has been using Section 215 to secretly collect information on people suspected of terrorism.
The New York Times is suing the Justice Department as well to find out what the Obama administration has been keeping secret regarding the Patriot Act.
In May, when Congress reauthorized the Patriot Act, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said, “I want to deliver a warning this afternoon: When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry.” Earlier, he told Wired’s Danger Room, “We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says.”
In October, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) added that the government’s use of “Section 215 is unfortunately cloaked in secrecy. Some day that cloak will be lifted, and future generations will ask whether our actions today meet the test of a democratic society: transparency, accountability, and fidelity to the rule of law and our Constitution.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Patriot Act Still Shrouded in Secrecy (by Maria Dinzeo, Courthouse News Service)
Electronic Frontier Foundation v. Department of Justice (U.S. District Court, Northern California) (pdf)

What is Obama Keeping Secret about the Patriot Act? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


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