Whistleblower: The NSA is Lying -- The U.S. Government Has Copies of Most of Your Emails
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AMY GOODMAN: A national security letter—it’s believed the government has given out hundreds of thousands of those.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: I have also written about NSLs. But if you get one, you are not allowed to talk about it, on pain of something like up to five years in prison, even to mention that you were handed a national security letter that said turn something over.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Yeah. That was the case of Nick Merrill, for example, who’s a brave American, who essentially fought and won the NSL that was handed down to him.
AMY GOODMAN: And the librarians of Connecticut—
JACOB APPELBAUM: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —who were taking on the USA PATRIOT Act and didn’t want to give information over about patrons in the library that the FBIwanted to get information on.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Right, absolutely. So, an NSL, what’s specifically scary about it is that all that is required is for an FBI agent to assert that they need one, and that’s it. And you don’t have a chance to have judicial review, because you aren’t the one served. Your service provider will be served. And they can’t tell you, so you don’t get your day in court.
AMY GOODMAN: Laura, can you set up this clip that we have?
LAURA POITRAS: Yes, actually, this is what Jake was alluding to. On Monday, there was a panel at the Open Society Institute. And Jake—and there was a deputy general counsel of the FBI who was present, and Jake had the opportunity to question her about national security letters.
JACOB APPELBAUM: Are you including national security letters in your comment about believing that there is judicial oversight with the FBI’s actions?
FBI DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL: National security letters and administrative subpoenas have the ability to have judicial oversight, yes.
JACOB APPELBAUM: How many of those actually do have judicial oversight, in percentage?
FBI DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL: What do you mean by that? How many have—
JACOB APPELBAUM: I mean, every time you get a national security letter, you have to go to a judge? Or—
FBI DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL: No, as you well know, national security letters, just like administrative subpoenas, you don’t have to go to a judge. The statute does allow for the person on whom those are served to seek judicial review. And people have done so.
JACOB APPELBAUM: And in the case of the third parties, such as, say, the 2703(d) orders that were served on my — according to the Wall Street Journal — my Gmail account, my Twitter account, and my internet service provider account, the third parties were prohibited from telling me about it, so how am I supposed to go to a judge, if the third party is gagged from telling me that I’m targeted by you?
FBI DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL: There are times when we have to have those things in place. So, at some point, obviously, you became aware. So at some point, the person does become aware. But yes, the statute does allow us to do that. The statute allows us.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, Jacob, explain who she was again.
JACOB APPELBAUM: So, my understanding is that she’s the deputy general counsel of the FBI.
AMY GOODMAN: And the significance of what she has just said?
JACOB APPELBAUM: Essentially, what she says is, "We are just and righteous because you get judicial review. But there are some cases where you don’t, and we are still just and righteous. And you should trust us, because COINTELPRO will never happen again." That’s what I heard from that. And, in fact, later, someone asked about COINTELPRO and said, "How can we" —
AMY GOODMAN: The counterintelligence program that targeted so many dissidents in the 1970s.