February 20, 2014

THE HILL: Dems press Holder on secret FBI letters.

Two House Democrats are calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to make changes to secret letters that the FBI uses to get information.

In a letter on Wednesday, the lawmakers demanded answers about the FBI’s National Security Letters, which do not require a court order and require communications companies and financial institutions to turn over details about their customers.

“This is deeply troubling and, therefore, addressing the proper use of NSLs must be part of any meaningful reform of government surveillance authorities,” Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said in a joint statement accompanying the letter.

“We look forward to working with the Administration as we find a path forward on this issue.”

Holder, along with top intelligence officials, is set to outline a series of reforms to the country’s surveillance efforts for President Obama. The announcement could come as soon as this week.

The reforms are likely to focus on the National Security Agency’s (NSA) collection of records about phone calls, which have raised alarms among privacy advocates since the program was unveiled in documents from former contractor Edward Snowden last year.

Agents at the NSA need to get a court order to search those records, but no similar order is necessary for the National Security Letters.

Pressure seems to be mounting.