Thursday, August 9, 2012

Is the FBI an agency out of control?

Originally posted 006/30/2011 on lubbockonline.com

Kevin Gosztola at Alternet.org looked at 5 types of FBI abuse of power. That abuse of power was, and is, assisted by the FISA court. The FISA court is supposed to oversee the FBI investigations, but unless oversight means rubberstamping electronic surveillance (1506 requests in 2011, 1506 approved) it's falling down on the job.

The court also granted "National Security Letters" on 14,000 people. National security letters pretty much give the FBI full access to your life:

They were also generous with granting “national security letters," which allow the FBI to force credit card companies, financial institutions, and internet service providers to give confidential records about customers’ subscriber information, phone number, email addresses and the websites they’ve visited. The FBI got permission to spy on 14,000 people in this way. Do they really think there are 14,000 terrorists living in the US?

With that backdrop, Kevin tells us that the FBI is seeking greater investigative power, and tells us of 5 types of investigations that show the last thing the FBI needs is more power:

  1. Warrantless GPS tracking (I blogged about this last year)
  2. FBI Targeting WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning Supporters. The FBI intimidated peole involved with the "Bradley Manning Support Network," a legal grassroots organization, for one.
  3. FBI Spied on Children While Using 'Roving Wiretaps,' Intentionally Misled Courts on Freedom of Information Act Requests. Comparing documents from different FOIA requests discovered the deception.
  4. FBI Entrapment of Muslims.
  5. The Criminalization of Travel by the FBI. Vocal activists (not terrorists) are targeted because of disagreement with policy and travel abroad.

I think you should go read the whole article. It's 6 pages, but they're short, and the details he provides are compelling. The last point strikes me a little harder than the others because if I travelled internationally, I could be one of the people targeted. As it is I'm just a harmless crank who blogs in Lubbock, TX and occasionally emails congressmen and the President on issues I feel strongly about. But how long before that isn't enough to protect me from harassment?