Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Civil Liberties in the Post 9/11 world - why I STILL don't trust my own government

Like it or not, once you open Pandora's box, there's no putting Pandora back into it. So a news report today in the Washington Post that the FBI illegally requested and received thousand's of phone records for non-existent terrorism emergencies comes as no surprise. What will be a surprise is if any of the agents or directors involved receive disciplinary action or are prosecuted.

But never mind about all that. It's in the past. We shouldn't look back. No one will EVER do anything that threatens civil liberties here in the U.S. And by God they are keeping us SAFE!

The FBI illegally collected more than 2,000 U.S. telephone call records between 2002 and 2006 by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist or simply persuading phone companies to provide records, according to internal bureau memos and interviews. FBI officials issued approvals after the fact to justify their actions.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the need to get information quickly and connect the dots was considered paramount throughout the federal government. The failure to obtain timely and actionable information has been a recurrent theme in the U.S. counterterrorism effort, up to and including the recent shootings at Fort Hood, Tex.

Before 9/11, FBI agents ordinarily gathered records of phone calls through the use of grand jury subpoenas or through an instrument know as a national security letter, issued for terrorism and espionage cases. Such letters, signed by senior headquarters officials, carry the weight of subpoenas with the firms that receive them.

The USA Patriot Act expanded the use of national security letters by letting lower-level officials outside Washington approve them and allowing them in wider circumstances. But the letters still required the FBI to link a request to an open terrorism case before records could be sought.

UPDATE: As if we need MORE evidence that the Obama Administration is leading us down a similar path - one that leads to less democracy and the weakening of the rule of law - Glenn Greenwald brings light to Scott Horton's continued investigation of the "suicides" at Guantanimo Bay that were, based on evidence gathered so far - a cover-up for deaths due to torture. Two points here - the first is that Glenn and Scott continue to do yeoman's work in making sure the torture abuses of our government are well documented, so that no one can say "We were never told." Second, by NOT investigating and prosecuting these heinous crimes, the Obama Administration is an accomplice to them. That should DISGUST and OUTRAGE Democrats and Progressives, especially since the Obama Administration isn't delivering on many other of its promises.

And From Andrew Sullivan:

18 Jan 2010 09:04 am
Three Corpses In Gitmo: The Very Worst Seems True

We have been told for so long that "enhanced interrogation techniques" are just "aggressive questioning"; that the ancient waterboarding technique is not torture; that Guantanamo Bay is a model prison facility where detainees are, if anything, molly-coddled (in fact, Rudy Giuliani recently opined that "Guantanamo is better than half the Federal prisons.") We are also told routinely on Fox News that the United States has not and never would torture prisoners; we are told by the New York Times and NPR that use of the word "torture" is too biased; we have been told by many that to argue that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are war criminals is such an extreme position it disgraces anyone who states it, and marginalizes them to the fever swamps of leftist haters and hysterics.

These are all lies. They are pre-meditated lies. They are attempts to lie about some of the worst crimes committed by a president and vice-president of the United States in history. Anyone with their eyes open and their mind not closed knows this somewhere deep inside. And the only reason we do not know more about this is because of the criminal cover-up under the Bush administration and the enraging refusal of the Obama administration to do the right thing and open all of it to sunlight.

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