All the major news outlets have jumped on the FBI story, but predictably they are downplaying the seriousness of the civil rights violations and dutifully reporting the FBI’s lame excuses as factual. CNN was apparently so concerned about the disappearance of the Fourth Amendment that it left the story up in a prime location on its web site for almost a whole hour before it was replaced by some ground-breaking journalism on how the new daylight savings time is bound to confuse masses of McDonalds addled Americans this week-end. Here are some fun facts about the National Security letters and the DOJ’s audit:
· The audit said there were no indications that the FBI's use of the letters "constituted criminal misconduct." (Now there’s a surprise)
· The FBI has made as many as 56,000 requests a year for information using the letters since the Patriot Act was passed in October, 2001, the audit found. (And how many pertained to terrorism? We’ll never know since its classified)
· A single letter can contain multiple information requests, and multiple letters may target one individual.
· The audit found that in 2004 and 2005, more than half of the targets of the national security letters were U.S. citizens.
· The audit also found problems with "exigent letters," which are supposed to be used only in emergencies when time may not permit the NSL procedure to be followed.
· The audit found exigent letters were not used in emergencies and gave the agency access to telephone records it should not have had.
Director Meuller has been designated as fall guy by the administration and seems prepared to commit public seppuku within the next few days. Republican Senator Arlen Spector, who’s having a really bad week what with finding out that he was the one responsible for the provision in the Patriot Act authorizing Bush to appoint attorneys general into the Patriot Act declared, "There will be oversight hearings," Not prosecutions. Not indictments. Oversight hearings. He also said the Patriot Act may have to be changed and power given the FBI curtailed because "they appear not to be able to know how to use it."
My question is, "Who really doesn’t know how to use his power Senator?" You were the one that granted the FBI this power to begin with. Despite warnings from civil libertarians and, well, regular libertarians, you abdicated your responsibility to the American people and helped ram the Patriot Act down America’s throat. Now you are all over the media whining about how the FBI is out of control? Who do you think you’re fooling? Lest we forget, Specter has been fooling Americans for quite a long time. His dicey relationship with the truth started way back when he was a member of the Warren Commission and the principal architect of the single-bullet theory. But that’s a story for another day.