Monday, March 26, 2007

The Terrifying Overreach of the FBI

Today I ran across something that I honestly hadn't heard about yet. It is a bone-chilling example of how we are either losing (or are in the process of losing) our individual rights.

Before I discuss this latest atrocity, let me say something: Every time I sound a warning, there are many people who dismiss it. They say they're willing to give up their individual rights in exchange for safety. I fear that we have fallen so fast and so far, our nation may never recover from it if we don't act immediately.

If you are about to say that you're happy giving away your freedoms for security, first contemplate the reality of this. Take it one step further and envision what the government can do with such tremendous power. The framers of our Constitution certainly did, and that's why they crafted it as carefully as they could. Are we smarter than Benjamin Franklin? Better than Thomas Jefferson? Wiser than George Washington?

No. Our society may have advanced, but the individual has actually regressed, both in education and in courage. This dumbing down of America has created a nation of sheep, not wolves.

If our people were suddenly transported back in time, the American Revolution would never have happened. Men would sneer at George Washington's leadership, and refuse to fight or slog through the snow without shoes, as his dedicated soldiers did. Families would refuse the sacrifices that were expected of the colonials at that time. "What? Go without luxuries?" we would cry. "Bring on the taxes!"

If our people were transported to WW2, we would be speaking German now and concentration camps would be as normal as nightclubs.

Until we stand up and write our local congressional representatives, we will not be able to fight this insidious decline.

So, what has alarmed me to such a degree?

In today's Washington Post there is an article that you must read. It is written by a man who has been subjected to a National Security Letter issued by the FBI.

I had never heard of a National Security Letter. Until recently, they didn't exist. But the Patriot Act has given the FBI untold and never before experienced powers. As the article states:

"The Justice Department's inspector general revealed on March 9 that the FBI has been systematically abusing one of the most controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act: the expanded power to issue "national security letters." It no doubt surprised most Americans to learn that between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 140,000 specific demands under this provision - demands issued without a showing of probable cause or prior judicial approval - to obtain potentially sensitive information about U.S. citizens and residents."

Furthermore, these letters are accompanied by gag orders, so the recipient cannot discuss it with anyone besides his attorney(s). As the anonymous writer states, "Without the gag orders issued on recipients of the letters, it is doubtful that the FBI would have been able to abuse the NSL power the way that it did."

Although the Patriot Act specified that the FBI was to keep Congress fully informed, it did not. The report revealed that "the FBI significantly underrepresented the number of NSL requests in 2003, 2004 and 2005."

Please take this latest revelation seriously. Simply because you aren't a terrorist does not make you immune. Some day the government may suddenly decide it doesn't like you because you're Jewish, Christian, gay, Buddhist, dark skinned, light skinned, conservative or liberal. And that day can come at any time. We have seen this proven repeatedly throughout history, and we have seen how quickly we are losing our rights in only the 6 years that President Bush has been in office.

As a nation, we have made a step in the right direction: We have elected a Congress that may push back. We need to encourage them. We can no longer merely elect someone and then sit back and wait. We all must act.

Take the time to click on the link above and write to your local congressional representatives. If it's easier or you're in a time-crunch, simply send them a copy of this article and add "Me too!"

As Benjamin Franklin said during the crafting of the Constitution, "We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."


Hans said...

"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security" - Benjamin Franklin

I am neither a Bush basher nor a Bush apologist. I believe that 9/11 fundamentally changed him and unfortunately he has lost total perspective. Now we find ourselves sliding down that slippery slope to Orwell's 1984 fueled by a culture that no longer takes personal responsibility for our actions. As evidence I present anybody in an Ask Mr.Gary commercial or your favorite high school student Taylor Tillung

Saur♥Kraut said...

Hans, brilliant! ;o)

Hans said...

It's tough being me.

United We Lay said...

I think the goal of this adminstratien to strip away oon has been to strip away our civil liberties as quietly as possible so that we won't protest. I fear for what this country will look like when my son is 30.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

What I find interesting is how far those in power will be allowed to go before someone does something; ie: a major uprising, or if the diet of high fat food, dumb TV and a drive to make as much money as possible at all costs will keep the population controlled and mallable.

Matt said...

It takes some kind of temerity for a guy to think his johnson's bigger than John Handcock's or Benjamin Franklin's.

I hope that these trends we discuss are mere blips on the radar, the ebbing and flowing of the tides. I hope.

And then there's the other idea that maybe you've built a machine that, through no fault of your own, is a bit out of control.

Ed Abbey said...

I agree with you Saur and I'll have to remember the Franklin quote posted by Hans because that was truly brilliant.

I guess I am more of a pessimist when it comes to writing my congress representatives. I think because of the two party system, writing them does nothing especially in the recent "you're either with us or against us" attitudes. I would rather focus "our" collective energies towards electing a more centrist party which in turn I think would solve this and a whole host of other problems.

That said, a letter to my representative can't hurt unless it gets read by our government and they slap a National Security Letter on me.

Ted said...

we shall all hang

The Lazy Iguana said...

Hans - I do not think 9-11 changed Bush at all.

It simply gave him a good excuse to put into place all the evil plans that the neo-conservative think tanks had planned.

As proof, lets take the secret energy policy meeting Cheney held in 2001. BEFORE September. We still do not know who was there, or what was said. This was OUR energy policy! And all we know about it is that top level executives from energy companies were there. And we only found this out YEARS LATER.

But what we DO know is that there was a war in Iraq, TONS of no bid contracts that went to companies with deep connections to the Bush Crime Syndicate, oil prices went through the roof, and the people at this energy policy meeting made an ass load of money.

But that is not all. The Patriot Act. Named that because "The Gestapo Act" would not play well with the public.

The secret jails. The secret courts. The many signing statements saying laws do not apply to the executive branch. The executive power grab. The Congress who say back and did nothing at all.

I do not think all this was an accident. The neo-con movement grabbed Congress first, using "values" as an excuse. Then they worked nonstop to get their man in the White House, with the help of hysterical mouth breathing right wing talk shows.

This was all planned from the start. And now the king will have to answer for it - even if he says he does not have to. As long as the Congress does not back down that is.

All September 11 did was give the excuse to kick the plans into overdrive. Just think about how it all came to be.

Questioning the President - helping the terrorists. Opposing ANYTHING - helping the terrorists. Vote for the opposition party - helping the terrorists. EVERYTHING that was not absolute 100% support for the President and his policies was going to help the terrorists.

Huh. How about that.

The best thing that can happen is to get rid of the administration and then throw out all the illegal shit they have done. This may keep it from happening again.

Bryan said...

But my personal pursuit of pleasure is all I'm concerned with. My team is doing really well this year and I have no time to worry about something as trivial as an emerging police state. And my other pressing concern is who is going to be the next big hit on "American Idol". Besides, those political things always seem to take care of themselves anyway; we have representatives that are supposed to worry about such things - I don't have the time. What can be done about it anyway? I'm just one person.

And my pastor doesn't seem worried about anything. If things were really getting all that bad he'd tell us, right? Surely the clergy would sound the alarm and they haven't, so all must be well.

To tell you the truth, I'm not sure I really want to know the truth anyway. It's just easier to believe a lie. The truth is messy and offensive to most people. Why, if I started speaking out people might think I'm some kind of conspiracy nut,
and I care more about what people think than what's right. Nothing is required of me this way -- no courage; no inconvenience or sacrifice. Yep, life is good just the way it is. Why stir things up? All I have to do is go along with what the corporate media tells me and we'll win this "War on Terror".

And every Christian knows Bush is a Godly man; he wouldn't tell us lies, now would he?

It's just what I run into in my world, Saur. I thought a little satire might bring it into perspective for some.

I'm with you on this one, Dear.

Note: Some people in my world are beginning to wake up, so it hasn't been in vain.

To be "Salt and Light" is what God commands of us, which can also translate into holding our government accountable for its evil.

Hans said...


Whoa, where do I start? You are tilting at windmills.

First, the secret energy policy meeting where more about screwing the people in California than some secret power grab for the Middle East. Whether that was right or that the Californians deserved it is the subject for another debate?

Prior to 9/11 I believe the primary Bush mission was about exalting the social conservative (meaning born again) agenda, taking copious vacations to Crawford to move brush at his ranch and really not rocking the boat too much.

Post 9/11 the Bush mission was crystal clear. Sharp as a laser beam. Protect Americans and American interest AT ANY COST. The “at any cost” is the point in contention.

The problem, as I see it, is that we are addicted to oil. We want it cheap and we want lots of it. Unfortunately they have it and they don’t want us there. The Bush (neo-conservative) strategy is two-fold. Roll up the terrorist and terrorist infrastructure AT ANY COST and establish a pro American democracy in the region preferably in an oil rich country as a SEED for overall democratization of the region. Iraq was the best candidate. It’s oil rich, it had an oppressed majority (ripe for allying ourselves with) and it had a genuine bad guy reputation making it the least likely for world condemnation. There begins the litany of mistakes.

We are just a bunch of alcoholics sitting at the bar and bitching about how the bartender mixes the drinks.

The Lazy Iguana said...

We do not know what the secret energy policy meeting was about. Not totally anyway. This is why it is known as the "secret meeting". It was not till 2004 or 2005 that the VP's office even admitted to it. So we do not know what was said. Had they NOT had the secret meeting then we would know what was said and therefore could not speculate.

Post 9-11 his policy is clear and as sharp as a laser? No offense, but what pot are you smoking and can you please sell me some?

His policy post 9-11 is not clear. It is anything BUT clear. There was the rush to war BEFORE the job in Afghanistan was done. The whole case for war in Iraq (the original case, not the 5th version of the case) was proven to be bullshit. EVERYTHING they said was going to happen never did happen. Remember Cheney saying that the people would throw roses at our feet? How about the insurgency being in its death stage? This was two troop surges ago. Everything they said turned out to be wrong.

And then there is the whole matter of Bush's love of circumventing the law when it helps push his agenda. This is the meat of Saur's post. Laws that the Republican Congress passed, and Bush was far too happy to sign, allow the government to take away Constitutional rights simply by uttering the word "terrorist". Where is that dirty bomb guy? He was arrested YEARS ago and is still in a secret jail, never brought to trial, and will not be in a court with a jury because of "classified evidence". He is an American Citizen.

Oh yea, and piss on international treaties!

We are more like the French people, pissed off because the king told us to just eat cake if we can not get bread.

hans said...


The “secret meeting”? I recommend Enron: The Smartest Guy in the Room a documentary that lays out the story of Enron. It addresses some of the connections between Enron, the Bush Whitehouse and the California Energy crisis. Secret energy council and all.

My point is that his mission is crystal clear TO HIM. This goes back to my initial comment on this post in that I feel that he has lost total perspective.

I believe I addressed what I thought was the Neo Con’s 2 pronged approach to “protect America and American interest” and the reason for starting the war in Iraq. There is an excellent article in the Feb 22 issue of Time magazine article about the rift between Shia and Sunni’s. Among other things it talks about the number of terrorist coming from Saudi Arabia and being Sunni not being lost on the administration and why the Neo Con’s felt that Iraq was ripe for the picking. The belief that THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND? Not true. What is true is that NOBODY HITS MY BROTHER BUT ME. The mistakes are numerous but I don’t believe that the inspirations are nefarious. Hind sight is 20/20

His name his Jose Padilla. He has never been held in a secret prison. He is and American citizen arrested on US soil. The crisis is that he was being held without being charged since 2002 in difference to Habeus Corpus. I believe it was at the Portsmouth Naval Stockade or a naval brig somewhere. As of 2005 he was indicted and as of Jan 2006 he is being held in Federal Prison in Miami.

Do some research and get your facts straight or your just babbling nonsense. My whole point is that I believe Bush was misguided not ill intentioned.

The Lazy Iguana said...

So he was held for three years before his trial. That is speedy.

Lets also note that the original "dirty bomb" charges were NOT what he was tried for in court/tribunal. He ended up tried as some hind of "illegal combatant" or something. The dirty bomb scare charge was just bullshit used to promote the "need" of the Patriot Act.

I want to see what the new cons say when a Democrat is in the White House. Will they support the President 100% then? Will they continue to allow signing statements saying "I refuse to follow this law" or "This does not apply to me"? Will they continue to think that "war time powers" means that parts of the bill of rights can be suspended? Will they still like any of the "powers" Bush invented for himself?

Probably not. But for now they like it all.

And they say that "terrorists" are a threat.

Bryan said...

Iguana is making some great points.

Isn't it interesting how Bush keeps trumping the "9-11" card for his justification of trampling upon our rights. I believe we need to take another good, hard look at 9-11 to gain a clearer understanding of what really happened, and why.

A good starting point would be to become familiar with the term "Peak Oil" and what its effects upon our way of life will be. And make no mistake, it's headed our way.

Cranky Yankee said...

Just a technical note that doesn't change your point.

As Benjamin Franklin said during the crafting of the Constitution, "We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Franklin actually made this statement to the Continental Congress just prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

John Hancock said “We must be unanimous, there must be no pulling different ways; we must all hang together.” “Yes” replied Franklin, “we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”