Terrorism: United States Law & Practise
U.S Court curbs FBI powers granted in Patriot Act
TamilNet, 30 September 2004
Federal judge Victor Marrero, who presides U.S.
District Court in New York City, struck down Wednesday a key part of
the U.S. Patriot Act, which granted to the FBI surveillance powers
to demand company records from businesses without court approval, as
unconstitutional, media reports in the U.S said.
"The legislation bars companies and other recipients of these
subpoenas from ever revealing that they received the FBI demand for
records. Marreo held that this permanent ban was a violation of
free-speech rights, CNN website reported.
The provisions of the Act had been challenged by the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU). Although the ACLU's suit was filed on behalf
of an Internet access firm, the ruling could apply to other entities
that have received FBI secretive subpoenas, known as national
"This is a landmark victory against the Justice Department's
misguided attempt to intrude into the lives of innocent Americans in
the name of national security. Even now, some in Congress are trying
to pass additional intrusive law enforcement powers. This decision
should put a halt to those efforts," Aljazeera website quoted ACLU
Executive Director Anthony Romero as saying.
The ruling was the latest blow to the Bush administration's
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that terror suspects being
held in U.S. facilities like Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, can use the
American judicial system to challenge their confinement. That ruling
was a defeat for the president's assertion of sweeping powers to
hold "enemy combatants" indefinitely after the Sept. 11, 2001,
In January Judge Audrey Collins in Los Angeles declared Patriot
Act's addition of "expert advice and assistance" to the definition
of material support was unconstitutionally vague. Judge Collins
enjoined the U.S.Government from enforcing the USA PATRIOT Act's
prohibition on providing 'expert advice or assistance' to foreign
terrorist organizations against the plaintiffs Ralph Fertig, Dr.
Jeyalingam, the Humanitarian Law Project, the Ilankai Thamil Sangam
and its members, and the Tamil Welfare and Human Rights Committee
and its members.
"It is the first time that a court has struck down a portion of the
controversial law approved by Congress six weeks after the September
11, 2001 attacks," Washington Post said of Judge Collins ruling.