Capitol Hill Blue Claims It Received a National Security Letter

Capitol Hill Blue is not a particularly reliable source, rating only a little better than the Washington Times when it comes to, say, reporting on the White House. But you would think they might possibly be credible when reporting on things they have personally witnessed.

Today CHB is alleging that they received a national security letter

In recent weeks, the FBI has issued hundreds of “National Security Letters,” directing employers, banks, credit card companies, libraries and other entities to turn over records on reporters. Under the USA Patriot Act, those who must turn over the records are also prohibited from revealing they have done so to the subject of the federal probes.

“The significance of this cannot be overstated,” says prominent New York litigator Glenn Greenwald. “In essence, while the President sits in the White House undisturbed after proudly announcing that he has been breaking the law and will continue to do so, his slavish political appointees at the Justice Department are using the mammoth law enforcement powers of the federal government to find and criminally prosecute those who brought this illegal conduct to light.

“This flamboyant use of the forces of criminal prosecution to threaten whistle-blowers and intimidate journalists are nothing more than the naked tactics of street thugs and authoritarian juntas.”

Just how widespread, and uncontrolled, this latest government assault has become hit close to home last week when one of the FBI’s National Security Letters arrived at the company that hosts the servers for this web site, Capitol Hill Blue.

The letter demanded traffic data, payment records and other information about the web site along with information on me, the publisher.

Now that’s a problem. I own the company that hosts Capitol Hill Blue. So, in effect, the feds want me to turn over information on myself and not tell myself that I’m doing it. You’d think they’d know better.

I turned the letter over to my lawyer and told him to send the following message to the feds:

Fuck you. Strong letter to follow.

If this is true, how serious it is depends on what the server was doing. If it’s a machine dedicated solely to serving a somewhat scurrilous publication that is a thorn in the side of the White House, I think this is a big deal. If on the other hand the server was operated as an ordinary business and has lots of clients and there’s reason to believe one of the others is the target, well there’s a good chance that this is just what has come to be business as usual in US2006. (And then of course there’s always the possibility they’re plain making it up.)

I hope someone gets to the bottom of this.

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7 Responses to Capitol Hill Blue Claims It Received a National Security Letter

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  2. Steve says:

    I’m dubious.

    If he’d actually received a NSL, don’t you think he would have posted it?

    Just asking.

  3. wcw says:

    I’m not dubious. The only evidence against is CHB’s well-known proclivity for making shit up.

    What evidence there is indicates that someone in charge is sufficiently mad (in both senses of the adjective) to be going after instead of ignoring harmless political opposition. Substantially every time that hard information finally does come out (viz. the DoD finally admitting to Leahy a couple days ago that TALON had been spying on folks like Quakers), it confirms rather than refutes darker intimations about executive misbehavior.

    I’m a little mystified that the idea that this is now business as usual in the US is any less serious than if it is particularly aimed at CHB’s spluttering little web presence. National Security Letters sure smell like steps towards star-chamber legal process to me.

    How is that not serious?

  4. wcw says:

    Speaking of star chambers, look what I just read not fifteen minutes after my response:

    A federal judge issued a highly unusual classified ruling yesterday, denying a motion for dismissal of a case against two leaders of an Albany mosque who are accused of laundering money in a federal terrorism sting operation.

    Because the ruling was classified, the defense lawyers were barred from reading why the judge decided that way.


    It is common in federal court for judges to place documents and legal discussions under seal, meaning that the judge and the lawyers can be informed of the proceedings, but the public cannot. In this case, Judge McAvoy’s order is classified, a higher degree of secrecy. As of late yesterday, Mr. Kindlon, even though he has a federal security clearance to represent Mr. Aref in the trial, had not been able to see the substance of the ruling.

    “Frankly, I’m taken aback,” Mr. Kindlon said. The ruling “holds out no promise of anything” for him to see the decision, he said.

    Business as usual, you say. Not that serious, you say.

    Perhaps you shouldn’t feel so secure. Tenure has its limits.

  5. Don says:

    There were a couple of interesting articles on Huffington Post about a Pomona Professor being harrassed by the FBI concerning links to Hugo Chavez.

    While I take what CHB says with a grain of salt, it’s getting easier to believe that these methods are becoming more commonplace.

    Add to that Justice o’Connors comments reported by NPR concerning Delay and Cornyn’s threats of the Judicial Branch and things look ugly.

  6. janinsanfran says:

    And then there is the seemingly random harassment of Muslim charities as discussed in this article. Things look ugly indeed.

  7. Steve says:

    I never said that the government wasn’t acting in an irresponsible and unconstitutional manner. I simply smell fish in this particular instance. As wcw aptly pointed out, there is “CHB’s well-known proclivity for making shit up.


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