Blog Posts

Judiciary Hearing on NSL Reform

April 15, 2008

This morning the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing on the “National Security Letters Reform Act of 2007.”

Chairman Jerrold Nadler of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties questions Justice Department witnesses about NSLs:

Subcommittee Chairman Nadler: “Ms. Caproni, you testified that the FBI has done an excellent job of self-reporting and does not need any statutory remedies to address the abuses uncovered by the IG’s report. Just today, though, documents obtained by the EFF through a Freedom of Information Act request showed a misuse of the FBI’s National Security Letter authority issued at the direction of FBI Headquarters, not a field office, went unreported to the Intelligence Oversight Board for almost two years. Given that, and the numerous reports of abuse, how is Congress and the public supposed to trust that the Department is capable of self-policing?”

Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-03) questions Justice Department witnesses about NSLs:

Rep. Scott: “Exactly where is the oversight in all this?”
FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni: “The oversight comes in a number of different ways, first off the Congressionally-mandated series of inspector general’s report’s obviously provided a great deal of oversight… as a matter of internal policy, FBI has mandated that there must legal review of any NSL before its issued.
Rep. Scott: “So the check and balance is within the same agency that’s doing the issuing of the NSL? See some of think check and balance means you check with another part of government, another concept of check and balance you check with your coworkers and if your coworker says what you’re doing is ok, then it’s ok. That’s not what some of us thought, really, was a check and balance…”