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Congress does not have the power to demand silence from people forced to turn over electronic communications such as Internet records used to investigate terrorism, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer argued Wednesday.

During oral arguments in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, ACLU lawyer Jameel Jaffer told Judge Victor Marrero he must strike down a part of the USA Patriot Act that lets the FBI request records without the kind of court order required of other government searches.

“It doesn’t allow for meaningful judicial review,” Jaffer said of the so-called national security letters, or NSLs, investigative tools used by the FBI to compel businesses to turn over customer information without a judge’s order or grand jury subpoena.

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