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Target of FBI Gag Order to Speak Freely After 6 Years..Raw Story

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Stuart G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 07:32 PM
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Target of FBI Gag Order to Speak Freely After 6 Years..Raw Story
Edited on Wed Aug-11-10 07:35 PM by Stuart G
Raw Story /

By Muriel Kane
Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 -- 12:57 pm

A recent push by the White House to expand the ability of the FBI to obtain customer information from internet service providers has focused attention on the threat to privacy and free speech posed by so-called "national security letters" (NSL).

These letters not only require that information be handed over without a warrant but also impose a gag order on the recipient to prevent them from even revealing that the request has been made

The Washington Post's Ellen Nakashima, who reported two weeks ago on concerns expressed by internet privacy advocates about the administration's proposal, has now cast further light on the use of these letters in the case of one man who successfully sued to have a gag order lifted.

"For six years, Nicholas Merrill has lived in a surreal world of half-truths," Nakashima begins, "where he could not tell even his fiancee, his closest friends or his mother that he is 'John Doe' -- the man who filed the first-ever court challenge to the FBI's ability to obtain personal data on Americans without judicial approval. ... Now, following the partial lifting of his gag order 11 days ago as a result of an FBI settlement, Merrill can speak openly for the first time about the experience."

Melissa Goodman, an ACLU lawyer who helped Merrill sue the government, told the Post, "One of the most dangerous and troubling things about the FBI's national security letter powers is how much it has been shrouded in secrecy
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