So the FBI has been caught abusing the shit out of that nifty national security letters power they got under the Patriot Act awhile back, eh? Gosh, what a surprise. No one could’ve expected that to happen, right? Yeah, right:
The odd thing is that everyone, or nearly everyone, seems to think this is entirely unexpected. In fact, it’s a natural consequence of giving the federal government more and more power over the years (national security letters were made much more powerful by the Patriot Act). Incentives matter, and the FBI has plenty of incentives to expand its power and surveillance ability and precious few incentives to preserve Americans’ constitutional liberties.
To give credit to EPIC, they realized this and sent a letter to the Senate in June 2006 asking for more oversight:
So have libertarian writers, who for years have called national security letters “the ultimate constitutional farce,” which is about right. The letters represent FBI agents _authorizing themselves_ to seize information without bothering to get a judge’s approval, after all:
Occasionally other evidence about illegal FBI eavesdropping comes to light, which is what I described in an article published two days before the DOJ’s report:
That article outlines how FBI agent Scott Wenther submitted a 42-page sworn affidavit that was intentionally designed to mislead the court into approving what a judge called an “illegal” wiretap. I’ve put the some of the court documents here:
This is of course the same federal police agency that is using our tax dollars to lobby Congress to mandate data retention, which should make us think twice about how _that_ nice part of the surveillance apparatus will be used and misused:
Go read the full article here. Just remember you have the Bush Administration to thank for this.