Simi Valley Sophist

The Simi Valley Sophist ruminates on all manner of topics from the micro to the macro. SVS travels whatever path strikes his fancy. Encyclopedia Britannica: Sophist "Any of certain Greek lecturers, writers, and teachers in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, most of whom travelled about the Greek-speaking world giving instruction in a wide range of subjects in return ..."

Location: California, United States

Retired: 30years law enforcement-last 20 years Criminal Intelligence Detective.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

National Security Letters-How Stupid Can Some Lawmakers Be?

By now you have probably heard all about the FBI and its supposed big transgression relative to the use of national security letters.

In 1986, Congress first authorized FBI agents to obtain electronic records without approval from a judge using national security letters. The letters can be used to cquire e-mails, telephone, travel records and financial information, like credit and bank transactions.

In 2001, the Patriot Act eliminated any requirement that the records belong to someone under suspicion. Now an innocent person's records can be obtained if FBI field agents consider them merely relevant to an ongoing terrorism or spying investigation.
A recent revelation,

…the Justice Department's chief watchdog, Glenn A. Fine, told the House Judiciary Committee that the FBI engaged in widespread and serious misuse of its authority in illegally collecting the information from Americans and foreigners through so-called national security letters.

Now some national legislators are threatening the FBI,

Republicans and Democrats sternly warned the FBI on Tuesday that it could lose its broad power to collect telephone, e-mail and financial records to hunt terrorists after revelations of widespread abuses of the authority detailed in a recent internal investigation.

Of course, the DOJ watchdog asserted,

Fine said he did not believe the problems were intentional, although he acknowledged he could not rule that out.
"We believe the misuses and the problems we found generally were the product of mistakes, carelessness, confusion, sloppiness lack of training, lack of adequate guidance and lack of adequate oversight," Fine said.

So, maybe the FBI is not so much of a bad guy as it is an incompetent bureaucrat when it comes to the administration of the national security letters. The point is that there is no evidence presented to suggest that the FBI is running around indiscriminately violating the privacy of Americans. What they are doing is trying to aggressively get a handle on the looming Islamo-fascist threat. Legislators who do not understand that are ignorant of the facts. Or, is it that they do understand it, and they have their own agenda in play?