The FBI sent a "national security letter" to Brewster Kahle's Internet Archive, seeking the name, address and Web surfing data of a patron of the nonprofit. (By Ben Margot — Associated Press)
The FBI has issued about 50,000 NSL's or national security letters. These "letters" aren't real warrants. They aren't constitutional. Even if the US Supreme Court says they are constitutional, they aren't. That Court apparently has yet to rule on such a case.
If the FBI has sufficient grounds to suspect someone, let the FBI go to a judge for a warrant. Let them clear the probable-cause hurdle so that people's privacy won't be violated without a higher priority value being protected.
These NSL's don't have to clear much if anything. The FBI can use them for mere fishing expeditions — for dragnets.
That's a situation that is ripe for huge abuses that have occurred in the past and certainly could be and likely are being set up right now.
I don't like the coercive checks-and-balances system. It would be vastly superior were the people to be trustworthy in their hearts. The mundane law exists though, and it is better to use it to protect the innocent than it is to catch the guilty and sweep up the innocent with them, which so often occurs such as with so many who have been recently released from death row for example. The system had failed those people. The system erred on the side of punishment and throwing the fear into everyone rather than taking care not to offend a person who can't be shown to be guilty and therefore may very well be completely innocent of the crime.