Obama Justice Dept. Claims FBI can Obtain Phone Records without Warrant or Oversight

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
(graphic: ACLU)
The names may have changed, but the policy is still the same at the U.S. Department of Justice, where officials under President Barack Obama are claiming the government can obtain telephone records without a warrant. The legal position reminds civil libertarians of the controversial stance taken by the Bush administration when it came to collecting intelligence its War on Terror.
Using a federal wiretapping law adopted in 1978 as a loophole, the FBI is asserting that it can review telephone records of international calls made from the United States without any formal legal process or court oversight, according to McClatchy Newspapers. If this is so, then the FBI could do what it did under President Bush, critics contend, when federal law enforcement obtained phone records with ridiculous ease. One senior FBI official likened the situation under Bush as “having an ATM in your living room.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has warned that the FBI’s policy on international phone records, if left unchallenged, could lead to the government reading emails as well. Kevin Bankston, an attorney with the EFF, told McClatchy, “Apparently, they've decided that this provision means that your international communications are a privacy-free zone and that they can get records of those communications without any legal process.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Obama Assertion: FBI Can Get Phone Records without Oversight (by Marisa Taylor, McClatchy Newspapers)


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