The FBI has been telling some journalists to turn over their notes, email messages, and sources, secretly, as part of an investigation into the hacker Adrian Lamo, according to Mark Rasch, a computer security expert and former head of the FBI’s computer crimes division. “… the FBI has threatened to put these reporters in jail unless they agree to preserve all of these records while they obtain a subpoena for them under provisions amended by the USA-PATRIOT Act,” Rasch writes, with justifiable outrage: The First Amendment is supposed to protect journalists from subpoenas of this nature, with certain specified exceptions.
This just proves how rotten the Patriot Act really is. Rather than an emergency measure needed to fight terrorism, it’s being used as a tool for vastly increasing the power and scope of government investigations, wiretaps, and asset seizures, as the New York Times reported Sunday. (alternate link to story: SFGate) We have, I’m afraid, traded a whole bunch of freedom for a scrap of false comfort.