RealNews

Congress Expands FBI Spying Power

Congress approved a bill on Friday that expands the reach of the Patriot Act, reduces oversight of the FBI and intelligence agencies and, according to critics, shifts the balance of power away from the legislature and the courts. A provision of an intelligence spending bill will expand the power of the FBI to subpoena business documents and transactions from a broader range of businesses — everything from libraries to travel agencies to eBay — without first seeking approval from a judge. Under the Patriot Act, the FBI can acquire bank records and Internet or phone logs simply by issuing itself a so-called national security letter saying the records are relevant to an investigation into terrorism. The FBI doesn’t need to show probable cause or consult a judge. What’s more, the target institution is issued a gag order and kept from revealing the subpoena’s existence to anyone, including the subject of the investigation. Full Story

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