For example: NSL used to go after an ISIS propagandist working within the United States and is a US citizen. They've got information he is talking to ISIS/ISIL via an NSA intercept. They know who he is, he is pretty well involved and known to be involved in radical Islamic terrorist activities and social circles, to the FBI and others. They NSL to get information with the gag required to not tip off and close up the whole cell or disclose IC practices used against foreign adversaries.
However, I can see this case being more likely:
US Citizen on Twitter quotes the Qu'ran a lot, and writes a lot in Arabic. One day they quote a verse that sounds militant, or say something that seems like it may be an indirect frustration with USG, US citizens, or @-replies somebody who is within a couple of degrees of an investigated radical. Some keyword search FBI runs on the Twitter firehose picks this up and an analyst says "eh, this guy looks sketchy." FBI wants info, doesn't want to cycle through the courts, and knows they can NSL and say it's "because terrorism", even though the person in question is more being profiled for something innocuous than they are actively involved in anything radical (i.e. it's perfectly legal to be a religious Muslim in the United States.)
I've a feeling more often than not this is water taking the path of least resistance, and it's easier for special agents to issue these and that's why they issue them so often. Unfortunately we only get to see what an NSL looks like, but I'm curious who the guy is they were going after and what "national security" threat this guy really is or was.
You and I can probably agree that one of them is overreach, but I don't trust that they have internal mechanisms to discourage overreach - that would be counter to their interests.
The FBI is made up of humans and humans are lazy as well as judged on the effectiveness of their jobs. Regardless of if you are an American paladin-cop or a boring FBI bureaucrat, you're going to take the path that makes it easier for you. And aside from a few underfunded, underpowered civil liberties groups bringing a swarm of mosquitoes to the firefight, the FBI/DOJ has the real power here. They get to use the virtually limitless funds of citizens to operate in the letter of the law or the spirit of the law, depending upon what is advantageous, and will issue charges on the letter of the law or the spirit of the law, depending on what is advantageous.
The depressing fact of the matter is that the natsec apparatus will remain the winning side until mainstream perspectives on policing change; this "victory" rings hollow and the fact that it took years to publish a redacted note is overall worth as much fanfare cutting a rhinoceros with a razor blade. We're celebrating a slaying of the beast right before it goes and gores somebody else. (I'm celebrating too, but I'm not going to deny it's more for morale than substance.)
For non-activists, though, it is easier to believe that the system works as intended and people want to trust that it works as intended. I don't think America is truly authoritarian as much as it is too lazy to pay attention until either the guns are pointed at them or the panem et circenses dry up, but by then it's too late. I don't actually blame the FBI or any TLA here. If we don't like this, the finger should be pointed at anyone who encourages this behavior or turns a blind eye to it.
I wonder if people just don't know how to make a difference. I wonder what would happen if schools taught activism as part of social studies. The idea itself is absolutely hilarious. A lot needs to be taught in social studies, like just getting kids to get along adequately
So you're probably right.
I don't know of any other organizations that would even be able to help out in a situation like this.
I donated to the EFF the other day, here is a link for anyone who is interested in financially supporting this type of work: https://supporters.eff.org/donate/power-2016-w
Thanks to everyone involved. If the U.S. (or any country) is going to be the land of the free, it will only be when each citizen makes it that way.
This scares me. I know why we have a legal system that allows this kind of behavior, and those reasons are good, but the few times someone pokes someone with the resources to fight back, they get to say "nevermind!" instead of it being ruled that they can't go around poking people like that? Then they keep going around hurting everyone else. It's a terrible state of things that systemically leads to bad behavior, but I can't think of a better system :(
I can. You just are not allowed to take your ball and go home.
This part angers me the most. So basically it was a bluff. Either that or if this was serious than FBI is reckless and incompetent. Because someone decided: "oh crap this is getting some publicity, we didn't want it because we didn't want him to be tipped off, but now since we have to defend ourselves and judge might be on their side, let us just forget about tipping him off." So then if he really make some terrorist related decision based of knowing they after him, who am I supposed to blame as a law abiding citizen who pays his taxes and demands FBI to be serious??
I will await for the day when one judge will say: "well wait a second this might be criminal I want to see what you guys really up to, now its too late you can't withdraw".
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Obama showed far less of an authoritarian streak than either Trump or Clinton (or Bush 43), but he ended up embracing drone strikes and NSLs once he saw their convenience. I feared how Clinton might use this power, and I can't even imagine what Trump will do.
It's now closer to the territory of having to obtain warrants. Warrants can also be seen as subject to the same issue of biased judges, but at least you can now request judicial oversight by letter.
The judges are in an entirely separate, co-equal branch of government and they have lifetime appointments. The law empowering the FBI was made by another entirely separate, co-equal branch of government, whose members' jobs depend on their constituents votes in every district in the nation.
“It’s almost always doable for the people issuing these [law enforcement] requests to get a court order for nondisclosure if they think that that’s important,” he says. “And that’s what we require in order to not inform or not send out notice to users when their information has been requested.”
The govt should not be allowed to operate in secret and issue gag orders, because then there is no recourse and no oversight, which is exactly what happens in practice.
Sadly most people in this country today couldn't care less because fear mongering and appeal to American nationalism work wonders. No one cares about human rights, due process or holding people accountable.
Organizations like EFF, IA, Wikipedia/leaks are the target of state sponsored attacks and media portrays them as evil.
For every time you hear of a case like this, there are thousands probably where the recipients lack the means to fight the order or are simply forced. The fact that the FBI withdrew in order not to set precedent proves they operate illegally, but of course there will be no mainstream coverage or consequences.
I'm actually encouraged that it was only a request pertaining to one person, as opposed to say, install some permanent dragnet hardware that violated all IA users.
Why bother with the hassle of explaining yourself and face the possibility of a negative outcome if you can just say "because terrorism" and bypass all that effort?
If I had my copy of HPDH near me, I'd be quoting Neville on this.