Americans’ Privacy Rights Not To Be Tread Upon Lightly (Rep. Jerrold Nadler)

I am outraged to learn that an internal FBI audit shows federal agents possibly violated the law or internal rules more than 1,000 times by misusing the National Security Letter (NSL) authority that was vastly expanded by the Patriot Act.  The report suggests that FBI agents used NSLs to gather information on domestic phone calls, e-mails and other communications, as well as individual financial records.  These violations are all the more striking in light of the new FBI guidelines for the use of NSLs that fail to adequately protect the privacy of Americans.  Clearly, the NSL authority must be fixed.  Unchecked power leads only to rampant abuse and it is clearly time for Congress to step in.

In the coming weeks, I plan on holding continued oversight hearings on the NSL authority as part of a series entitled, “The Constitution in Crisis: The State of Civil Liberties in America.