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Спецслужбы США бьют мимо цели

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ФБР использовали отчеты телекоммуникационных компаний, чтобы собрать данные о телефонных беседах и переписке по электронной почте не только подозреваемых в терроризме американцев, но также и их партнеров. Об этом сообщает издание The New York Times, основываясь на недавно полученных документах.


Документы указывают, что Федеральное бюро расследований использовало секретные отчеты для получения информации о людях из окружения подозреваемых.


Лидеры правозащитных организаций и даже некоторые сотрудники службы национальной безопасности предупреждают, что анализ бесед и писем может быть неверно интерпретирован, и никак не связанные с терроризмом люди могут попасть под подозрение.


Как правило, сотрудники ФБР анализируют темы разговоров, время дня, внезапные изменения в интенсивности контактов, географические районы и другие данные.


7 сентября Федеральный окружной суд в США постановил, что ФБР обязано приостановить практику использования так называемых "писем о национальной безопасности", несмотря на то, что этот метод наблюдения пользуется поддержкой у некоторых членов правительства, которые считают, что это может предотвратить террористические нападения.


"Письма о национальной безопасности" представляют собой служебные запросы, которые на основании "Закона о патриотизме" дают правоохранительным органам США возможность без санкции суда получать различную конфиденциальную информации об американских гражданах.



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Federal Court Strikes Down National Security Letters


In September 2007, in the only legal challenge brought to the NSL provisions of the Patriot Act, a federal court struck down the entirety of the National Security Letter (NSL) provisions of the Patriot Act. Judge Victor Marrero of the Southern District of New York ruled NSLs violate the First Amendment and directly abuse the constitutional separation of powers.


The National Security Letter provision of the Patriot Act authorizes the FBI to demand personal records like Web site visits and e-mail addresses without prior court approval. Anyone who receives an NSL is forbidden, or "gagged" from telling anyone about the record demand.


Since the Patriot Act was authorized in 2001, further relaxing restrictions on the FBI's use of the power, the number of NSLs issued has seen an astronomical increase. Reports previously indicated a hundred-fold increase to 30,000 NSLs issued annually, but a March 2007 report from the Justice Department's Inspector General puts the actual number at over 143,000 NSLs issued between 2003 and 2005. The same investigation also found serious FBI abuses of regulations and numerous potential violations of the law.


The ACLU has challenged this Patriot Act statute in court with two cases: one involving an Internet Service Provider; the second a group of librarians. In both cases, the judges found the gags are unconstitutional.

American Civil Liberties Union



What is a National Security Letter?

Most self storage operators who have been in business for a few years have been served with a search

warrant or a subpoena. A search warrant gives a law enforcement agency authority to search and seize

property from a described premises. This could be a tenant’s storage space or part of the property under

the control of the operator. The search warrant must describe the area to be searched in sufficient detail

that its scope is clear. For example, a warrant could not just state that the area to be searched is ABC Self

Storage. A search warrant that described the search area as space A23, rented by Jeff Jinks, would be

clear and sufficiently specific. A subpoena is a request for physical property. When issued in a criminal

investigation, it is usually reviewed and signed by a judge. An example would be a request for all records

relating to a specific customer. The storage operator will usually be given a specified time to collect and

produce the documents in court.

Recent amendments to the USA Patriot Act and related legislation could expand the FBI’s ability to

require self storage operators to turn over documents. Rather than issue a subpoena the FBI can issue a

National Security Letter (NSL), demanding that a business turn over specific business documents.

Usually this will be information on a particular individual or organization who rents space at the storage

facility and who is under investigation for national security reasons. A NSL functions like a subpoena but

it is issued by an FBI agent, subject to Department of Justice guidelines, without the review of a judge or

magistrate. The NSL also prohibits the recipient from disclosing to any person that the FBI has sought or

obtained access to information or records. Thus, a business is served with a secret subpoena issued solely

on the authority of the FBI and is obligated to maintain the secrecy of any action taken by the FBI.

Disclosure Prohibited

The statutory language that prohibits a business from disclosing that it has been served with a NSL is

absolute on its face. The law prohibits disclosure “to any person.” There is at least one constitutionally

implied exception to this secrecy requirement. The self storage operator has a right to contact his or her

attorney for advice on how to proceed. A recipient of a NSL could not contact the SSA or state

association for help.

The FBI has had the power to issue a NSL when investigating national security matters for many years

but it was limited to a few specified types of business. Financial institutions and telecommunications

companies were the only businesses subject to being served with a NSL. Congress greatly expanded the

scope of businesses that could be issued a NSL in November 2003 when it amended the USA Patriot Act.

Under the amendment real estate brokers and pawn shops are specifically included in the list of businesses

that can be issued a NSL. It is not clear from the text if Congress granted the FBI the authority to use a

NSL instead of a subpoena when seeking information from a self storage business. Some commentators

have stated that the law expands the use of NSLs to virtually every business. Senator Leahy, in

November 20, 2003 remarks in the Congressional Record, criticized the amendment because it expanded

the scope of the FBI’s power to demand documents from almost any business.

National Security Letter Declared Unconstitutional

The constitutional authority of the FBI to issue a NSL without judicial review has recently been

challenged in federal court. On September 29, 2004 U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero declared

that the use of such letters was unconstitutional and barred their use by the FBI. However, he delayed the

injunction for 90 days to allow for appeal. It will take several years for an appellate court to decide

whether the FBI has the authority to demand documents and other information pursuant to a NSL.

Most self storage operators will never be confronted with an FBI agent presenting a NSL and demanding

the operator turn over rental records. However, operators should be prepared. First, site personnel should

be advised that only the FBI has the authority to issue a NSL. If an FBI agent serves NSL site personnel

should be instructed to contact the facility owner or senior company management immediately. The

decision on how to respond to such a request must be made at the senior management level. The scope of

the information sought should be reviewed carefully. If the information is narrow in scope either in terms

of the time frame of records sought or the number of records involved this makes the decision to comply

easier than a broad records request.

Keep in mind that your business records are your property and in most cases you can consent to turn them

over to law enforcement officers. However, when the request is extremely broad greater care should be

taken prior to compliance. Finally, it is wise to contact your lawyer whenever confronted with a demand

for customer lists or records. Your lawyer can negotiate with the FBI on both the scope of records to be

provided and the timing for their production.

Little Risk of Civil Liability

There is probably little risk of a storage operator being civil liable to a customer whose records are

produced in compliance with a NSL. The law encourages cooperation with law enforcement. A person

or business does not have a duty to question a document like a subpoena or NSL that appears valid on its

face. Producing documents sought pursuant to a NSL, even one that is wrongfully issued, would not

support a civil action by complaining customers whose records were turned over to the FBI.

Storage operators should pay careful attention to the secrecy requirement of the NSL. A NSL is very

different from a subpoena in this respect. The law prohibits any owner, officer, partner or employee of

the self storage business from disclosing that the NSL has been presented or that records have been turned

over to the FBI. The secrecy provision applies to everyone connected with the business so the number of

individuals who know the NSL was served should be limited. It is also imperative that employees

understand that they cannot disclose to anyone that a NSL was served on the business.

The amendments to the USA Patriot Act which expanded the scope of businesses subject to a NSL were

enacted just one year ago. It is impossible to determine if the FBI will use this power to force a self

storage operator to turn over records as opposed to issuing a subpoena. The possibility does exist and

storage operators should be aware that an FBI agent may show up at their facility with a National Security




Письмецо в конверте, погоди, не рви... (с)



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