FBI can secretly spy on Americans even if its useless oversight court says no


In theory, the FBi needs to get the FISA court to sign off on requests for secret warrants to spy on Americans -- in practice, it almost always rubberstamps those requests. But on the rare occasions when the FISA court says no, the FBI just gets a National Security Letter (AKA "the other secret warrant") and gets spying.

We considered the Section 215 request for [REDACTED] discussed earlier in this report at pages 33 to 34 to be a noteworthy item. In this case, the FISA Court had twice declined to approve a Section 215 application based on First Amendment Concerns. However, the FBI subsequently issued NSLs for information [REDACTED] even though the statute authorizing the NSLs contained the same First Amendment restriction as Section 215 and the ECs authorizing the NSLs relied on the same facts contained in the Section 215 applicants...

When The FISA Court Rejects A Surveillance Request, The FBI Just Issues A National Security Letter Instead [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]