The advisory group that has delivered suggestions to President Obama on NSA and privacy issues has recommended that there be judicial approval of National Security Letters, which currently can be issued by a government agency, without any court oversight. These valuable investigative tools were intended to assist law enforcement, and other government agencies, acquire information related to terrorism or espionage, or for intelligence that is linked to these subjects.
The unspoken question about NSLs is how many are being improperly used; since there are no checks and balances, reports have surfaced that some agencies are guilty of using them in criminal investigations that are totally unrelated to either terrorism or espionage. Has there been widespread abuse ? Given the fact that recipients of NSLs cannot ever disclose the fact that they have been served with these requests, the answer is impossible to obtain, but anecdotal information indicates that there have been many, many violations of the limitations placed upon this critical discovery tool.
Is that why the advisory group has recommended judicial approval be obtained ? The grounds for their recommendation should be publicly aired, so that the public is informed.