ACLU Skeptical of New FBI Privacy Guidelines

June 14, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, June 14, 2007

Washington, DC - The American Civil Liberties Union today expressed skepticism that new FBI guidelines for use of National Security Letters (NSLs) will be sufficient to protect the privacy of Americans. The FBI has reworked their internal methods only because Office of the Inspector General released a report in March outlining egregious abuses of their NSL authority.

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

"Unfortunately, these NSL guidelines are not enough. Though the guidelines might prove helpful to improve FBI management, the unchecked authority given to the Bureau in the Patriot Act is the core problem. Congress must go back to the legislative drawing board and rein in the broad NSL authorities expanded by the Patriot Act. The government should have never had such expansive power to begin with. Current and past administrations have demonstrated that government power exercised in secret will always be abused. Judicial oversight is the only way to ensure that the FBI will consistently obey the law and respect Americans’ right to privacy.

"The IG report revealed that the FBI can’t be trusted to follow the rule of law when the public is not watching, a concept made painfully clear by the abuses described in the Inspector General’s report. The fact is the bureau already had a series of policies, guidelines and statutes in place when these abuses were committed. The NSL statute is like a faulty foundation - building new guidelines with a faulty law will make for an unsteady structure"

To read more about the ACLU’s concerns with NSLs, go to:
www.aclu.org/nsl

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