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Re: [RLC-Action] (no subject)

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  • Barry Moore
    Excellent idea, Bill. westmiller@aol.com wrote: At my discretion, we joined this coalition letter on legislative subpoenas. I m delighted to have the RLC in
    Message 1 of 2 , May 25, 2005
      Excellent idea, Bill.

      westmiller@... wrote:

          At my discretion, we joined this coalition letter on legislative subpoenas. I'm delighted to have the RLC in such good company on this 'Patriot' related issue.

          I expect this will be getting some news coverage this week, with the ACLU taking the lead.

       

      Bill

      -----------------

      May 23, 2005

       

       

      The Honorable Pat Roberts                              The Honorable John D. Rockefeller IV

      Chairman                                                          Vice Chairman

      Senate Select Committee on Intelligence            Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

      211 Hart Senate Office Building                        211 Hart Senate Office Building

      Washington, DC 20510                                Washington, DC 20510

       

      Dear Chairman Roberts and Vice Chairman Rockefeller:

       

      We are writing to express our opposition to granting to the FBI in national security investigations so-called ���administrative subpoena��� powers, which would allow the FBI to write its own search and disclosure orders with no judicial approval.

       

      At the very time when there seems to be an emerging consensus around adding meaningful checks and balances to PATRIOT Act powers to protect against government abuse, ���administrative subpoenas��� would represent a new, unchecked power.  At the very time when the Attorney General is supporting amendments to strengthen judicial oversight of orders under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, authorization of ���administrative subpoenas��� would move radically in the opposite direction.

       

      Indeed, Attorney General Gonzales has repeatedly emphasized that the prior judicial approval required for Section 215 orders is a safeguard against abuse.  The Attorney General���s assurances would be meaningless, however, if the FBI could issue disclosure orders with no judicial approval.

       

      For decades, the FBI has sought general administrative subpoena power and the Congress has repeatedly refused to grant it, out of concern for the unchecked nature of such authority.  Administrative subpoenas are typically suited for the regulatory context���to investigate the administration of federal benefits programs, for example. To say the least, the FBI���s intelligence division is not an administrative agency.  Administrative subpoenas have also been made available in certain criminal contexts, where the rigorous checks and balances of the criminal justice system provide much-needed protection against abuse. It would be especially unwise to extend this power to intelligence investigations, which are broader, more secretive, and less subject to scrutiny than criminal cases.

       

      Under current law, the FBI already has far-reaching compulsory powers to obtain any relevant information when it is investigating terrorism, under both its criminal and intelligence authorities.  The government has made no showing that these powers are insufficient.  To the contrary, it has repeatedly praised the PATRIOT Act as providing the necessary tools to prevent terrorism and to prosecute a host of terrorism-related cases.  Given these broad existing powers, and given the widespread public and Congressional concern that some of the existing PATRIOT Act powers are not subject to sufficient checks and balances, there is no justification for going even further down the path of unchecked authority.

       

      The 9/11 Commission concluded that the burden of proof for retaining ��� and equally so for adding ��� a particular governmental power should be on the executive to explain (a) that the power actually materially enhances security, and (b) that there is adequate supervision of the executive���s use of the power to ensure protection of civil liberties.  Neither burden has been satisfied here, and we urge you not to adopt such an unjustified and largely unaccountable new power.

       

      Sincerely,

       

      American Booksellers Association

      American Civil Liberties Union

      American Library Association

      American Policy Center

      Association of American Physicians and Surgeons

      Association of American Publishers

      Bill of Rights Defense Committee

      Center for American Progress

      Center for Democracy and Technology

      Center for National Security Studies

      Cyber Privacy Project

      Electronic Frontier Foundation

      Electronic Privacy Information Center

      Fairfax County Privacy Council

      Free Congress Foundation

      Friends Committee on National Legislation

      Gun Owners of America

      Liberty Coalition

      National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium

      National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

      People For the American Way

      Privacilla.org

      Republican Liberty Caucus

      The Rutherford Institute

      U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation


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