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Administrative Subpoenas and National Security Letters in Criminal and Foreign Intelligence Investigations: Background and Proposed Adjustments

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. During the 108th Congress, the President urged Congress to expand and re-enforce statutory authority to use administrative subpoenas and national security letters in criminal and foreign intelligence investigations; and legislation was introduced for that purpose. Related proposals have been offered during the 109th Congress, some of which deal with national security letter authority. 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.
Date: April 15, 2005
Creator: Doyle, Charles
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department