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Action Alert: Tell Your Senators to Vote “NO” on McCain Amdt. To Expand FBI Surveillance Powers

CAIR logoVote on Amendment Expected Sometime Wednesday, June 22

The Council on American Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, is urging all Americans to contact their state’s Senate congressional delegation urging that they vote “NO†on McCain Amendment 4787, which would expand the FBI’s authority to use National Security Letters, warrantless surveillance orders under the USA PATRIOT Act, to compel telecommunications companies and internet provides to hand over individuals internet browsing history, IP addresses and some email metadata without court orders.


A vote on McCain Amendment 4787 to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 is expected sometime tomorrow.

SEE: McCain Amendment 4787

SEE: Senate Republicans Call For More Surveillance After Orlando Massacre

National security letters are a form of administrative subpoena that permit the FBI to request from businesses records of, among other things, telephone and Internet activity or financial data from banks and other financial institutions bearing on investigative targets in counterintelligence or terrorism cases.

These subpoenas are secret and come with a “gag order†where the recipient cannot disclose having received one. And the letters can be issued by relatively low-level bureau officials without going to any court. Under the Patriot Act the FBI merely has to certify that the information is “relevant” to a national security investigation.

The FBI has issued over 300,000 National Security Letters since 2000, most of which had gag orders. CAIR considers the FBI's overuse of National Security Letters, as opposed to seeking a court ordered warrant for investigations, to be one of the many broad expansions of the PATRIOT ACT that threaten the civil liberties of all Americans.

In 2014, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a report on the “FBI’s Use of Section 215 Orders for Business Records in 2006,†the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) twice refused to authorize warrants related to national security investigations from the FBI “based on concerns that the investigation was premised on protected First Amendment activity, and the FBI subsequently issued National Security Letters to obtain information†about American citizens built on the same premise rejected by the Court.

A similar DOJ audit in 2007 found the FBI guilty of “serious misuse” of it National Security Letters to collect information not covered by the letter's warrantless search authorities.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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