Saturday, March 10, 2007

Shocking News

Aren't you still reeling from the news that the FBI has had (& wasn't afraid to use) the carte blanche granted it by Bushco's signal counterterrorism legislation, the Patriot Act, to spy on American citizens who were not suspected of any terrorist activity?

Nor is your Demon.

According to the WaPo today:

"Lawmakers from both parties yesterday called for limits on antiterrorism laws in response to a Justice Department report that the FBI improperly obtained telephone logs, banking records and other personal information on thousands of Americans.

"The audit by the department's inspector general detailed widespread abuse of the FBI's authority to seize personal details about tens of thousands of people without court oversight through the use of national security letters.

"It also found that the FBI had hatched an agreement with telephone companies allowing the agency to ask for information on more than 3,000 phone numbers -- often without a subpoena, without an emergency or even without an investigative case. In 2006, the FBI then issued blanket letters authorizing many of the requests retroactively, according to agency officials and congressional aides briefed on the effort."

Another in the WaPo (title bar):

"That law, and Bush administration guidelines for its use, transformed national security letters by permitting clandestine scrutiny of U.S. residents and visitors who are not alleged to be terrorists or spies.

"Now the bureau needs only to certify that the records are 'sought for' or 'relevant to' an investigation 'to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.'

"According to three officials with access to the report, Fine said the possible violations he discovered did not 'manifest deliberate attempts to circumvent statutory limitations or departmental policies.'

"But Fine found that FBI agents used national security letters without citing an authorized investigation, claimed 'exigent' circumstances that did not exist in demanding information and did not have adequate documentation to justify the issuance of letters.

"In at least two cases, the officials said, Fine found that the FBI obtained full credit reports using a national security letter that could lawfully be employed to obtain only summary information. In an unknown number of other cases, third parties such as telephone companies, banks and Internet providers responded to national security letters with detailed personal information about customers that the letters do not permit to be released.

"The FBI 'sequestered' that information, a law enforcement official said last night, but did not destroy it. "

Conservatives would be right about one thing: bloated government doesn't do a very good job of policing itself & following its own rules ~ oh sorry, am I contradicting myself? ~ I'd rather see those sorts of excesses by the so-called "welfare state" than an agency that uses its powers to spy, clandestinely, on our own population, is all.

It was like pulling teeth to get a modest audit of a random sampling of FBI uses of this law (performed over the objections of the Bush Administration, BTW) or an audit of the amount of money Bushco has thrown away in Iraq on private subcontractors like the infamous Halliburton subsidiary KBR, but yet ~ I think it was Newt & Grover themselves who pointed out that you can't trust government to get anything right, so away with it entirely.

DP sez: Much easier to just cut off the diseased limb.

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