National Security Letters
Friday, January 04, 2013
The most serious kind of subpoena - called a 'National Security Letter' - used to have a lifetime gag-order automatically attached. That is until Nicholas Merrill appealed his and won the right to talk about it. Despite 50,000 national security letters a year, there are only three organizations that have ever won the right to say they got one. In a segment that originally aired in January of 2011, Nick Merrill tells Bob why he's the exception and the rule.
Friday, June 29, 2012
For journalists like the OTM crew, who report regularly on government transparency and the 4th Amendment, National security letters (NSL) are maddeningly opaque. The letters, issued by the FBI, are often sent to telcos, internet service providers, and other online entities (Twitter being a notorious example) to subpoena user information. They require no judicial oversight or probable cause. They also contain a preemptive gag order, which disallows a letter's recipient from even acknowledging they received one.
But thanks to a Freedom of Information Act by the American Civil Liberties Union, NSLs just got a tiny bit more transparent. The Justice Department has made public the templates they use for National Security Letters.