Judge Invalidates Patriot Act Provisions - washingtonpost.com: "A federal judge struck down controversial portions of the USA Patriot Act in a ruling that declared them unconstitutional yesterday, ordering the FBI to stop its wide use of a warrantless tactic for obtaining e-mail and telephone data from private companies for counterterrorism investigations. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in New York said the FBI's use of secret 'national security letters' to demand such data violates the First Amendment and constitutional provisions on the separation of powers, because the FBI can impose indefinite gag orders on the companies and the courts have little opportunity to review the letters.
The secrecy provisions are "the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values," Marrero wrote. His strongly worded 103-page opinion amounted to a rebuke of both the administration and Congress, which had revised the act in 2005 to take into account an earlier ruling by the judge on the same topic.Although a government appeal is likely, the decision could eliminate or sharply curtail the FBI's issuance of tens of thousands of national security letters (NSLs) each year to telephone companies, Internet providers and other communications firms. The FBI says it typically orders that such letters be kept confidential to make sure that suspects do not learn they are being investigated, as well as to protect "sources and methods" used in terrorism and counterintelligence probes.
Russ Feingold is vindicated, again.
Most lawmakers were quiet about yesterday's ruling. Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), the only senator to vote against the original Patriot Act in 2001, said in a statement, "Congress needs to fix the mess it created when it gave the government overly-broad powers to obtain sensitive information about Americans."