Sunday, December 28, 2003
While The Nation Was Diverted By Saddam Capture...
Bush snuck into law many parts of Patriot Act II by signing a bill on Saturday.
While broadening the definition of "financial institution," the Bush administration is ramping up provisions within the 2001 USA Patriot Act, which granted the FBI the authority to obtain client records from banks by merely requesting the records in a "National Security Letter." To get the records, the FBI doesn't have to appear before a judge, nor demonstrate "probable cause" - reason to believe that the targeted client is involved in criminal or terrorist activity. Moreover, the National Security Letters are attached with a gag order, preventing any financial institution from informing its clients that their records have been surrendered to the FBI. If a financial institution breaches the gag order, it faces criminal penalties. And finally, the FBI will no longer be required to report to Congress how often they have used the National Security Letters.
Opponents claim the FBI already has all the tools to stop crime and terrorism. Moreover, explains Patrick Filyk, an attorney and vice president of the local chapter of the ACLU, "The only thing the act accomplishes is the removal of judicial oversight and the transfer of more power to law enforcements agents."