"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
A key part of the Patriot Act, a central plank of the Bush Administration's war on terror, was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge on Wednesday, in the latest blow to U.S. security policies.
U.S. District Judge Victor Marreo ruled in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the power the FBI has to demand confidential financial records from companies that it can obtain without court approval as part of terrorism investigations.
The legislation bars companies and other recipients of these subpoenas from ever revealing that they received the FBI demand for records. Marreo held that this permanent ban was a violation of free speech rights.
In his ruling, Marreo prohibited the Department of Justice and the FBI from issuing special administrative subpoenas, known as national security letters. But he delayed enforcement of his judgment pending an expected appeal by the government. The Department of Justice said it was reviewing the ruling.
Of course the government will appeal, and they may well win their appeal (although the Supreme Court looms on the horizon...). But in the meanwhile, take some comfort in knowing that at least one judge got it right.