Accession Number:

ADA467194

Title:

National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations: A Glimpse of the Legal Background and Recent Amendments

Descriptive Note:

Congressional rept.

Corporate Author:

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2006-03-21

Pagination or Media Count:

6.0

Abstract:

Five statutory provisions vest government agencies responsible for certain foreign intelligence investigations principally the Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI with authority to issue written commands comparable to administrative subpoenas. These National Security Letters NSLs seek customer and consumer transaction information in national security investigations from communications providers, financial institutions, and credit agencies. Section 505 of the USA PATRIOT Act expanded the circumstances under which an NSL could be used. Subsequent press accounts suggested that their use had become widespread. Two lower federal courts, however, found the uncertainties, practices, and policies associated with the use of NSL authority contrary to the First Amendment right of freedom of speech, and thus brought into question the extent to which NSL authority could be used in the future. The USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act, P.L. 109-177, 120 Stat. 192 2006 H.R. 3199, and P.L. 109-178, 120 Stat. 278 2006 S. 2271, amend the NSL statutes and related law to address some of the concerns raised by critics and the courts. This is an abridged version of CRS Report RL33320, National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations Legal Background and Recent Amendments, without the footnotes, appendices, and most of the citations to authority found in the longer report.

Subject Categories:

  • Information Science
  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Military Intelligence
  • Unconventional Warfare

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE