Thou Shalt Not Speak: The Nondisclosure Provisions of the National Security Letter Statutes and the First Amendment Challenge

Brett A.  Shumate, Thou Shalt Not Speak: The Nondisclosure Provisions of the National Security Letter Statutes and the First Amendment Challenge, 41 Gonz. L. Rev. 151 (2005).

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National Security Letters (“NSLs”) are controversial components of the government’s post 9/11 counterterrorism powers that are cloaked in secrecy; however, the receipt of an NSL could look something like this:

Special Agents Dean and Snipes arrived at Comcast Headquarters determined to gather information on suspected terrorist Abdul Rahman Yasin. Both agents knew that Yasin had recently made contact with an associate known only by his internet profile, CA76740. That internet profile had been traced by the FBI counterterrorism unit as one registered to a Comcast account. The agents hoped that they could obtain the name and address of the account holder, and begin surveillance on Yasin’s unknown associate.

Agents Dean and Snipes found their company point of contact, Tyler Pearson, an in-house attorney responsible for compliance with subpoena requests, and provided him with their documents. The agents mentioned that he should open the documents in a private place and not share the contents with anyone…. Read More

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