Date: April 15, 2005
Creator: Doyle, Charles
Description: Administrative subpoena authority, including closely related national security letter authority, is the power vested in various administrative agencies to compel testimony or the production of documents or both in aid of the agencies’ performance of their duties. Both the President and Members of Congress have called for statutory adjustments relating to the use of administrative subpoenas and national security letters in criminal and foreign intelligence investigations. One lower federal court has found the sweeping gag orders and lack of judicial review that mark one of the national security letter practices constitutionally defective. Proponents of expanded use emphasize the effectiveness of administrative subpoenas as an investigative tool and question the logic of its availability in drug and health care fraud cases but not in terrorism cases. Critics suggest that it is little more than a constitutionally suspect “trophy” power, easily abused and of little legitimate use. This is an abridged version — without footnotes, appendices, quotation marks and most citations to authority — of Administrative Subpoenas and National Security Letters in Criminal and Foreign Intelligence Investigations: Background and Proposed Adjustments, CRS Report RL32880.
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