Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Another Patriot Act Abuse

The FBI has been abusing its powers under the PATRIOT Act to obtain highly personal information on American citizens. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says he is going to get to the bottom of it and “make things right as quickly as possible”. FBI Director Robert Meuller blames himself for not putting more safeguards in place.

Why do their responses resemble the protestations of a fox caught inside a chicken coop? There are feathers sticking to their mouths.

The National Security Letters used by the FBI to make its information grab, were created in the 1970s as a narrow exception in consumer privacy law, allowing the FBI ­ without a court order– to look in secret at the communications, and financial and credit records of foreign agents. Widening the application of National Security Letters with s. 505 of the PATRIOT Act, the Bush Administration let the FBI loose to seize the records of American citizens without warrant, in the same way it would later let the National Security Agency loose to spy on their phone and email records.

According to the Washington Post, the FBI has issued more that 30,000 National Security Letters each year in the recent past, compared to approximately the 3,000 a year it used to issue. And it’s no wonder the FBI’s use of National Security Letters has been burgeoning. In guidelines issued to the agency on May 30, 2002 and October 31, 2003, Attorney General John Ashcroft gave “overriding priority to preventing attacks by any means possible”. In late 2003 Ashcroft rescinded the guideline that required the FBI to destroy all information obtained about American citizens or residents when it was not relevant to the purposes for which it had been collected or when an investigation was closed. He replaced it with a guideline that required the FBI to retain all the records it collected and to develop data mining technology to find links between people, places and events in its growing cache of records. Heeding the guidelines, the FBI set up a new system called “Investigative Data Warehouse” based on the Oracle technology used by the CIA. This kind of retention and data mining of records allows the personal information of Americans to be scrutinized again and again as new records are added to the FBI’s stores.

As the NSA is doing with its domestic spy program, the FBI is using National Security Letters to generate leads as well as to pursue them. This is not the mistake of a few overeager agents ­ it’s the Administration’s plan. It is based on a law which is wide open to abuse, and supported by a culture which ensures abuse happens.

That’s why the use of warrantless National Security Letters to obtain citizens’ records must stop.

MAUREEN WEBB is the author of Illusions of Security: Global Surveillance and Democracy in the Post-9/11 World, just published by City Lights.

 

 

More articles by:
October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Suyapa Portillo Villeda
An Illegitimate, US-Backed Regime is Fueling the Honduran Refugee Crisis
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail