Posted by: Jim | March 12, 2007

Domestic Spying

I don’t need to say anything further than what StarNewsOnline said here:

Feds spying on Americans

Without getting approval from a grand jury or judge, the FBI has snooped tens of thousands of times a year on the phone calls, e-mails and financial records of Americans and visitors.

It’s doubtful that’s what most Americans had in mind when they told pollsters they’d be willing to give up some privacy after 9/11.

This isn’t some. This is massive domestic spying.

Are we really supposed to believe that in 2005, it was necessary for federal agents to demand private information 47,000 times? And that 47,000 times it would have been too much trouble to let a judge review the request? Apparently we are.

These chilling figures came to light during an internal Justice Department investigation of how well the FBI has complied with the law. The inspector general found potential problems with almost a quarter of the requests.

No surprise. History teaches that if you give government officials the power to do things in secret, they will go overboard. They will fudge the rules, and if they get away with that, they will forget them.

This snooping authority, of the kind familiar to tyrannies throughout history, was given to the executive branch by us and our elected representatives. It was part of the “Patriot Act.”

This is how frightened people are conned into giving up their liberties.

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Responses

  1. In a March 9th NY Times article “F.B.I. Head Admits Mistakes in Use of Security Act “, majority leader Senator Harry Reid of Nevada was quoted as saying “It is time to place meaningful checks on the Bush administration’s ability to misuse the Patriot Act by overusing national security letters.”

    *sigh* Hey honey… the milk’s spoiled. Maybe we should think about putting it in the fridge?

  2. It’s actually likely to be a lot more than 47,000 requests. Gleen Greenwald has a good post about it over on Salon.

    I have been reading a lot about Latin America, its political turmoils, and a word that pops up again and again with regard to dictators is Impunity, it is absolutely a symptom of dictatorship. And this administration continues to act with impunity. If you read the DoJ retraction to Arlen Specter of the patently false testimony that was given to Congress (for which Gonzales and his staff have clearly no respect), it is distressing in its shoulder-shrugging dismissal of the previous lies that were served up to pressure the renewal of the Patriot Act.

  3. Honestly, the word ‘chilling’ does not come to mind when reading these words. America is not like cold war Russia. If you believe that before these reports of domestic spying that America did not spy on her own, you are living under a rock.

    All 9/11 did was place the hidden truth in the spotlight, and frankly, the governent can spy on me all they want – I have nothing to hide. I pay my taxes and I live an honest life. If spying on me as they pass over the population to find evildoers and funders of terrorism will help make this world safer and weed out the scum we have ‘invited’ into our society, then I’m on board.

    I just find it amusing to watch both the left and the right ‘react’ to news as it is vomited out by the media, liberal or otherwise (the ‘otherwise’ being FOX News). If you stop and consider the necessity of policing your own nation, sometimes extreme measures are necessary to provide a safe and secure environment for those same citizens to live in.

    It’s not like Agent Smith showing up at my door and asking for my phone and banking records…

  4. Todd, just because you don’t mind the government spying on you doesn’t mean that it is therefore okay for the government to spy on everyone. I’m sure you are a good citizen. But good citizens have, throughout history, ushered in oppressive governments because they had “nothing to hide.”

    I don’t have anything to hide either, but I do not want the government spying on me. The framers of the constitution made it illegal for the government to search our personal property without a warrant from a judge. And they did this because they were smart, and knew that this would lead to government oppression.

    The FISA court made it *very easy* for the FBI to get such a warrant, but this left an auditable trail. The feds chose to bypass the FISA court, and one could very easily assume that they did this because they did not want to be audited. And lo and behold, there were 47,000 illegal invasions without a warrant and without an auditable trail. WHY? Todd, if you are in favor of this, explain to me why the government had to do it this way instead of the very easy FISA court method? What would the advantage be?

  5. I find it amusing to watch the wingnuts dance and sing and try to explain why all the dismantling of civil rights their team is responsible for is really a good thing. The old quote about those who are willing to give up liberty for the illusion of security deserve neither has become a cliche by now. As far as I’m concerned, people like ToddO who so cavalierly give up my rights are cowardly and unAmerican and should be ashamed for throwing away what our forbears fought and died for.

    But Todd’s right, it’s not like Agent Smith showing up and asking for our records. Agent Smith wouldn’t ask, and neither does BushCo.

  6. I just can’t believe Todd’s viewpoint. Privacy is valubale, in and of itself. How can somebody from the Land of the Free reconcile themselves with the practices of Cold War Communism? (Actually, that rat Putin is still employing the same methods). Of course, there has always been monitoring of fringe groups, nobody would argue against that. But once you start fishing for information, and broaden the scope to include mainstream America, the path you walk is so dangerous. Once the state becomes motivated by paranoia of its own subjects, it will never be satisfied that it knows enough, it will need to know everything. Such a state apparatus needs enemies, and such an apparatus will always make mistakes, ie: Senator Edward Kennedy going on the no-fly list (i’m sure that was an honest mistake), and such an apparatus will always become corrupted. And it always follows a dynamic where as your private life is eviscerated, the state will become utterly impenetrable.

    This is happening now. What worries me the most is the absolute secrecy with which this administration has governed. It’s a total disgrace.

  7. Well, Todd, let me see.

    I, for one, am suspicious of you. And people like you. In fact, your lack of critical thinking abilities makes you, in my opinion, a danger to the Republic. And that makes you an Enemy of the State.

    So…I think it’s probably in the best interest of all of us, and the good of the country, if I send men to break down your door and drag you off to some secret prison, where you will be housed indefinitely, without charges.

    After that, it’s really hard to say what will happen to you. That’s classified information. But don’t worry, Todd; we know what we’re doing. After all, you have nothing to hide, right? If you’re truly innocent, we’ll probably release you eventually. Unless, of course, we don’t. But then, we know what’s best. So trust us.

    * * *

  8. As bad as the FBI has been, their actions still pale in scope to what the NSA has been doing for decades. The difference is that the FBI has police powers, and what a difference it is. I have been on the wrong end of an FBI “interview”, and it was intimidating as hell. Even though the case had nothing to do with me, save I was boss of the “person of interest” whom was innocent, and was never charged. Oh they tried though; they conducted the interrogations at our place of business in a conference room where everything was in there is recorded. After they left, I listened to the recordings, and these guys were VERY good. They kept telling him things like “we know you did it”, and “just come clean, so we can clear this file up”, and “if you lie to us, thing are going to be twice as bad for you”, and “just admit it, and we can take care of everything” and “you’re looking at five years federal, pal, but we can help”… these men were very smart and well trained. When they didn’t get anything from him, (he WAS innocent BTW) they brought me in there and the first thing that happened was one of the agents sort of got in my face and said “I don’t believe a word that guy just said,” and they proceeded to warn me unambiguously about the penalties for impersonating an FBI agent, what wrath would be brought, blah, blah: I picked up within 2 minutes that this whole act was a railroad job that was designed to scare, and was also a workout of the agents interrogation muscles, even though the original complaint filed against us was a silly unsubstantiated allegation, the sort of which must be reported fraudulently several times per day to the FBI. Do they investigate them all? I asked that question, and the agents claimed that they do. Bullshit. I should have asked them where Osama was.

    -T

  9. Actually Osama is sleeping on Todd’s sofabed. He’s convinced him he’s really Jesus.

    * * *

  10. According to Mike German, former FBI Agent and now Policy Counsel for the
    American Civil Liberties Union, “…National Security Letters give agents sweeping powers to demand sensitive personal records with no court review. The FBI can even gag recipients of these letters from making the request public.”
    Remind you of anything? (www.booyahoo.com.)


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