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11/24/2003 Archived Entry: "No rock to hide under: Expansion of the Patriot Act"

"I DON'T THINK THERE'S A ROCK BIG ENOUGH FOR ME TO CRAWL UNDER to escape that one ..." So wrote Sunni Maravillosa when she sent me prime results from her news trolling this morning. Guess what, America? While the mainstream media was paying no attention, Congress just made your insurance company, your real estate agent, the U.S. Postal Service, travel agencies, casinos, pawn shops, your ISPs, your car dealer -- and any other business whose "cash transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax or regulatory matters" -- a "financial institution" as defined by the Patriot Act.

That means the feds can go snooping into any records from those places, merely by writing themselves something called a National Security Letter. They don't have to ask a judge. Don't need any probable cause. Don't need anything. Just write down "it's for the war on terrorism" and they can get any record on anyone. They can scoop up your records in a big sweep while hunting for an actual criminal. Or they can scoop up your records ... well, just because.

The Wired news article on this is well worth reading. It says things I couldn't even repeat without being reduced to raving. And take a look -- just take a look! -- at the six-page document the feds provided under FOIA when EPIC, the ACLU, and library and booksellers' organizations tried to find out how many times these "National Security Letters" had been used.

Posted by Claire @ 09:45 AM CST

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