National Security Letters Unconstitutional, finds federal judge, who bans them

"Ultra-secret national security letters that come with a gag order on the recipient are an unconstitutional impingement on free speech, a federal judge ruled Friday." Kim Zetter at Wired News has more on the order from U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, who today ordered the government to stop issuing so-called NSLs. [Wired News]


  1. This will, of course, go to the Supreme’s, who will rule that NSL’s are in fact perfectly constitutional, and that their decision, and the reasoning behind it are classified, and cannot be released or discussed as a matter of National Security.

    1. Even if it goes to the Supreme court and the ruling is upheld, I wouldn’t be surprised if our corrupt, corporatist government ignores it and/or renames NSL’s and tries it another way.

      Even so, I’m glad to see at least some Americans still believe in freedom.The fight continues…

      1. I expect the Supreme Court will cite the precedent of Bush v Gore, and rule that only Republican presidents can issue NSL’s.  Or their handlers.

    2. A fitting epitath to the quaint idea of Freedom and the once-great United States: “But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

      1. Good point. I really did enjoy that part of 0 Dark 30. Too bad the whole movie wasn’t like that.

      1. That’s nifty, hadn’t seen it before. But America the nation is different from America the land. I can believe in the people, the talents and skills and traditions of this place, without necessarily believing in the government or the capitalist apparatus.

        It’s much more common for people to get this in other countries- that a government doesn’t speak for all its people, no matter how loudly it declares this to be so. The myth of democracy, that we somehow must have done something to deserve the corruption we get- that seems a USian thing.

        In fascist Europe, how many of Godwin’s ancestors went for easy cynicism and disengagement, for every one who stood up and pushed back? (and was punished, yeah I know about that part too)

        This fight is far from over.

    1.  Some parts of America are quite excellent. I particularly recommend Canada, but parts of Mexico and Brazil are also highly regarded, and I hear excellent things about Costa Rica.

  2. Perhaps the national security state will make up the difference via illegal but more covert methods?  

    Something like COINTELPRO, but using a new acronym that only spooks are authorized to know, and without all that bad press.

  3. I wonder how investigators in the FBI and other domestic spying agencies feel about civil liberties. Do they think that they themselves are good people and have the country’s best interest at heart so it’s okay if they bend/break the rules like renegade Dirty Harrys? Or do they relish the power and control they have over the lives of individuals like these so-called “ratters” who secretly take over a person’s computer and spy on them with their webcam? I really wonder what the psychology of the people behind the now continuous erosion of our freedoms is.

    1. Presumably you’d find a mix.  A large number will be people who think these extreme measures are the only way to fight crime and terrorism because the criminals and terrorists don’t play fair.  A large number will be concerned about these rules and wonder if they go too far but will feel powerless to change the system and will feel compelled to use the tools available to them to catch the “bad guys”.  Then a very small minority will actually openly argue with the tools or refuse to use them – these will be sidelined or fired depending on their position in the organization.  Another small minority will be actively eager to harass people, curtail rights, and terrorize people for fun – these will be promoted.

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