Saturday, March 10, 2007

Show me the terrorists

Both AG Gonzales and the head of the FBI admit the FBI broke the law in order to conduct secret surveillance on Americans. However, the auditor alleges that "[a]bout three-fourths of the letters issued between 2003 and 2005 involved counterterror cases, with the rest for espionage investigations." One has to question that allegation since it turns out I understated the number of letters issued in yesterday's post. In fact since the Patriot Act, the requests have reached unprecendented levels.
In 2000, for example, the FBI issued an estimated 8,500 requests. That number peaked in 2004 with 56,000. Overall, the FBI reported issuing 143,074 requests in national security letters between 2003 and 2005.

But that did not include an additional 8,850 requests that were never recorded in the FBI's database, the audit found. A sample review of 77 case files at four FBI field offices showed that agents had underreported the number of national security letter requests by about 22 percent.
"Both Gonzales and Mueller called the national security letters vital tools in pursuing terrorists and spies in the United States" and The Counterterrorism blog agrees calling it simple bad bookkeeping which should be of no concern to Americans.
Before rushing to judgment and calling for the restriction or elimination of the NSL program, critics should remember that the problem is administrative, not operational. As such, civil liberties are not at risk. The only true risk is to national security if this issue escalates as a platform to diminish or eliminate an important investigative tool.
Well, I have to ask where are the indictments? We have all these hundreds of thousands of "requests" collecting this information but we don't have thousands of terrorists on trial. We don't even have ten terrorists on trial. They can spin this any they want but the fact remains that the Patriot Act has been used as an end run around due process to convict garden variety criminals that don't present a danger to national security.

Until the government can show us evidence that this information is really being used for terrorism investigations and not as an excuse for law enforcement to avoid conducting ordinary investigations under the rule of law, I don't see why Americans shouldn't demand an immediate end to the use of NSLs.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home