Monday, March 12, 2007

No proof that NSLs work

I know it's just the editorial page and not the news side of the Wall St. Journal. And I'm aware that the editorial staff at the WSJ has a long tradition of blindly supporting GOP administrations but you would think a brainy bunch like that could do at least do better than make vague and unsupported pronouncements like this.
The worst outcome would be if Congress limited the administrative subpoena power in order to punish the FBI. By all accounts, these "national security letters" have proven to be useful in tracking potential terror threats. In particular, the Bush Administration shouldn't now give in to any such demands merely to appease Congress or save the jobs of Messrs. Mueller or Gonzales.
I mean, by whose accounts other than the White House have they proved useful? Name me one terror prosecution in which evidence collected by these NSLs have been instrumental. Hell, name me one prosecution in which they've even been tangentially useful. And more importantly tell me what they did with the hundreds of thousands of records they collected under the NSLs in the absence of any indictments for terrorism.

Gonzales certainly needs to go and he should take the NSLs with him. As has been pointed by others before me, if you institute a program with such potential for abuse, it's foolish to expect that any safeguards will prevent the abuse from occurring. Our judicial system was rightfully designed to operate in transparency and there's no need for NSLs to cloud the process when court authorized surveillance would work just as well.

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