Surveillance Under the Patriot Act

Hastily passed 45 days after 9/11 in the name of national security, the Patriot Act was the first of many changes to surveillance laws that made it easier for the government to spy on ordinary Americans by expanding the authority to monitor phone and email communications, collect bank and credit reporting records, and track the activity of innocent Americans on the Internet. While most Americans think it was created to catch terrorists, the Patriot Act actually turns regular citizens into suspects.

Hastily passed 45 days after 9/11 in the name of national security, the Patriot Act was the first of many changes to surveillance laws that made it easier for the government to spy on ordinary Americans by expanding the authority to monitor phone and email communications, collect bank and credit reporting records, and track the activity of innocent Americans on the Internet. While most Americans think it was created to catch terrorists, the Patriot Act actually turns regular citizens into suspects.

On May 26, 2011, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), said, "I want to deliver a warning … when the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they will be stunned and they will be angry."

Under the Patriot Act, National Security Letters (NSLs) are issued by FBI agents, without a judge's approval, to obtain personal information, including phone records, computer records, credit history, and banking history.

Between 2003 and 2006, the FBI issued 192,499 NSLs, which led to one terror-related conviction. The conviction would have occurred even without the Patriot Act.

Abuse of Privacy: The Patriot Act does not require information obtained by NSLs to be destroyed - even if the information is determined to concern innocent Americans. Your info: Saved forever.

At least 34,000 law enforcement and intelligence agents have access to phone records collected through NSLs. In response to 9 NSLs, 11,100 Americans' telephone account records were turned over to the FBI.

The Patriot Act prohibits Americans who receive NSLs from telling anyone. These gag order provisions have been held unconstitutional in several legal cases.

Between 2003 and 2005, the FBI made 53 reported criminal referrals to prosecutors as a result of 143,074 NSLs.

143,074 NSLs, 53 reported criminal referrals:

17 were for money laundering.

17 related to immigrations.

19 involved fraud.

0 were for terrorism.

"Sneak & Peek" Searches: The Patriot Act allows federal law enforcement agencies to delay giving notice when they conduct secret searches of Americans homes and offices—a fundamental change to Fourth Amendment privacy protections and search warrants. This means that government agents can enter a house, apartment or office with a search warrant when the occupant is away, search through his/her property and take photographs—in some cases seizing property and electronic communications—and not tell the owner until later.

Of the 3,970 Sneak & Peeks in 2010:

76% drug-related

24% other

1% terror-related

To learn more visit aclu.org/patriot.

Source
1.http://wyden.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=34eddcdb-2541-42f5-8f...
2.http://www.justice.gov/oig/special/s0803b/final.pdf
3.http://thescienceofsecurity.org/blog/CT%20Since%209-11_by_Breakthrough.pdf
4.http://www.justice.gov/oig/special/s0703b/final.pdf
5.http://www.justice.gov/oig/special/s0803b/final.pdf
6.Report of the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts on Applications for Delayed-Notice Search Warrants and Extensions for fiscal year 2010, on file with the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.

Surveillance Under the Patriot Act

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