ACLU Applauds Committee Passage of National Security Letter Reform

June 24, 2008 12:00 am

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DC – Today, the House Judiciary

Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties approved

legislation that would greatly reduce the scope of the National Security Letter

(NSL) statute. NSLs are secret government requests for information that are

used to collect private records without judicial oversight. The FBI’s gross

misuse and abuse of the NSL statute has led to consecutive and embarrassing

reports issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of the

Inspector General. In March, a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed

by the ACLU also uncovered abuses of the NSL statute by the Department of


The following can

be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington

Legislative Office:

“Time and time

again, the FBI has shown it cannot police itself when it comes to the overly

broad powers of the NSL. We applaud Representative Nadler and his

subcommittee for moving this bill towards passage. Abuses of the NSL

statute have been widely reported, but have yet to be


“If Congress doesn’t take action to rein in this power it

will not only be sanctioning past abuses, but inviting further

misuse. Today’s mark up of the National Security Letter Reform Act of 2007

is a big step in the right direction. Since a legislative fix is long

overdue, we encourage the House to move this bill quickly to a


For more information about the ACLU’s work on NSLs, go to:

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