Required reading

The ACLU has issued a report on the Justice Department’s campaign to mislead the public about the so-called Patriot Act. Some highlights:

— Justice has claimed that Section 215 – the provision that allows them to get any business records, including library records – doesn’t apply to U.S. persons; ACLU report says Sec. 215(a)(1) makes it clear this claim is false.

— Justice says that investigation under Sec. 215 cannot be predicated “solely” on First Amendment activities, but the ACLU report says that so long as the target of the investigation is not a U.S. person, then that limit apparently does not apply to information collected on U.S. persons in connection with that investigation.

— Justice has claimed that probable cause is required to get business records under Sec. 215. The report says that records of U.S. persons who are not suspected of being a criminal or the agent of a foreign power can be obtained by only an assertion of relevance.

— Justice claims that all Sec. 215 orders require that the government “convince a judge” to get permission for a 215 order. The ACLU report says that is a half-truth; that all that is required is a certification to a judge in conformity with Sec. 215(c)(1) – without the need of evidence – and that upon such certification, the judge has no discretion to deny the order.

More here.