ERIC Number: EJ810252
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Oct
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
National Security Letters, the USA PATRIOT Act, and the Constitution: The Tensions between National Security and Civil Rights
Gorham-Oscilowski, Ursula; Jaeger, Paul T.
Government Information Quarterly, v25 n4 p625-644 Oct 2008
In response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the USA PATRIOT Act greatly expanded the ability of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to use National Security Letters (NSLs) in investigations and the contexts in which they could be used by relaxing the standards under which NSLs could be employed. NSLs allow investigators to acquire a significant amount of information about the subject of an investigation, and the range and frequency of uses of NSLs has risen dramatically since the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act. An outstanding question with NSLs is whether they are being used in a manner that violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution. This article explores the relationships between NSLs, the USA PATRIOT Act, and the Constitution. The paper reviews the legislative history of NSLs, synthesizes the First and Fourth Amendment issues and key judicial decisions related to NSLs, and analyzes the extent to which the USA PATRIOT Act Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 adequately addresses challenges to the constitutionality of NSLs. The paper concludes with an examination of NSLs within the greater information policy context in the United States, as the expanded usage of NSLs--even if entirely constitutional--raises the possibility of chilling the freedom of expression.
Descriptors: Civil Rights, Investigations, Terrorism, Freedom of Speech, National Security, Federal Legislation, Information Policy, War, Court Litigation, Constitutional Law, Public Policy
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: First Amendment; Fourth Amendment