Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Legal Background of National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations

Charles Doyle, Senior Specialist in American Public Law, has written a new Congressional Research Service (CRS) report entitled "National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations: A Glimpse at the Legal Background." He discusses the five National Security Letter (NSL) federal statutes that authorized "intelligence officials to request information in connection with national security investigations" and the Department of Justice's Inspector General (IG) findings in relation to the five statutes. In the summary he reveals:

The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies recommended several NSL statutory adjustments designed to eliminate differences between NSLs and court orders under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“§215 orders”), including requiring pre-issuance judicial approval of NSLs. Instead in the USA FREEDOM Act, P.L. 114-23 (H.R. 2048), Congress opted to adjust the NSL judicial review provisions governing the nondisclosure requirements that may accompany NSLs. It also precludes the use of NSL authority for bulk collection of communications or financial records. Finally, it adjusts existing reporting requirements to permit recipients to publicly disclose the extent to which they have been compelled to comply with NSLs.