August 3, 2005 -
The National Security Archive, along with other secrecy experts,
today filed a “friend
of the court” brief in a lawsuit challenging
the FBI’s authority to issue national security letters (NSLs)
without any judicial oversight and under a blanket gag order that
prohibits the recipient from speaking with anyone about the NSL.
The amicus curiae brief was filed with the United States Court
of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which is reviewing a lower
that held that the NSL authority violated the First and Fourth
Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The brief argues that
secrecy does not always serve the goal of protecting national
security, as the numerous investigations into the September 11
attacks on the United States all concluded. Noting that there
has been an upsurge in secrecy over the last four years –
and that military and intelligence officials ranging from Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to now-Director of the CIA Porter Goss
all admit that a significant amount of the secrecy is unnecessary
– the brief argues that the judiciary must provide a meaningful
review of government claims for secrecy.
In the case of the
NSL authority, the brief points out the particular dangers associated
with a permanent and categorical ban on speech by recipients of
NSLs and demonstrates the terrible impact that the rule has on
In addition to the
Archive, the brief was filed on behalf of the Project on Government
Secrecy of the Federation of American Scientists, the Electronic
Privacy Information Center, and the National Whistleblower Coalition.
More information about the lawsuit is available at www.aclu.org.