Press Release

For Immediate Release
June 26, 2006

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

Response To ACLU Statement On Connecticut National Security Letter Case

In May of 2005, the FBI issued a National Security Letter (NSL) to “The Library Connection”. The Library Connection is a consortium that provides back office support to a group of Connecticut libraries. The NSL requested information relating to a single computer that had been used to send information about a potential terrorist threat. The NSL states that the FBI was seeking specific information on any subscriber of billing information relating to a specific computer used within the 45 minute time period on the day the threat information was transmitted from a library’s computer. It is important to note that the information sought had nothing to do with obtaining reading lists of library patrons or any other information that would be reasonably considered intrusive upon any individual’s rights as a library patron. Obtaining information that could lead to the identity of the person who used a specific computer, at a specific time, to transmit threat information would have helped the FBI more efficiently investigate and evaluate an alleged threat involving terrorism. Under the law in effect in June 2005, the NSL was the most logical prescribed investigative tool to use in seeking electronic subscriber information in a counterterrorism investigation. Since then, Congress has changed the law as it relates to the secrecy requirements of an NSL in certain cases. That and the fact that the investigation is now complete allow us to engage in this important discussion.

Ultimately, the FBI was able to investigate and over time, discount the threat that was transmitted over this computer that was part of the Library Connection’s network. Conducting that investigation was less efficient because of the failure of the Library Connection to comply with the NSL. In this case, because the threat ultimately was without merit, that delay came at no cost other than slowing the pace of the investigation. In another case, where the threat may be real, the delays incurred in this investigation could have increased the danger of terrorists succeeding. Protecting the rights of Americans against unlawful search and seizure is sacred trust to the men and women of the FBI. Protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism and doing so within the law is our highest priority. It is disingenuous for the ACLU to suggest that preventing the FBI from obtaining information about who used a computer to send information about a potential terrorist threat during a 45 minute period constitutes “a victory not just for librarians but for all Americans who value their privacy.”

John Miller
Assistant Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation

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