Most likely it will come as no surprise that the Bush Administration’s Justice Department continues it’s assault on freedom and the Constitution. According to a report in the Washington Post, the Justice Department is about to issue guidelines for starting FBI investigations that a number of U.S. Senators believe could lead to innocent Americans being spied upon by government agents or informants, “all without any basis for suspicion.”
These are rules that apparently require no Congressional approval, but are Attorney General Guidelines implemented to safeguard Americans in the wake of abuses by the FBI in the 1960s. Leave it to the Cheney Administration to figure out a way to turn that on it’s head and use it against us.
While Senators Dick Durbin, Russ Feingold, Edward M. Kennedy and Sheldon Whitehouse have joined Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, also a Democrat, and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Arlen Specter in asking for a delay and period of public comment before issuing the guidelines. I’m sure AG Mukasey is quaking in his boots given the Congress’ lack of enthusiasm for protecting the Constitution and fulfilling their oversight responsibilities.
According to the Post report, following their briefings, the four Democrats said the guidelines would:
- Let the FBI use “a variety of intrusive investigative techniques” with no evidence of possible wrongdoing. The techniques could include: long-term FBI surveillance, interviewing neighbors and workmates, recruiting informants and searching commercial databases for information on people, “all without any basis for suspicion.” “We are particularly concerned that the draft guidelines might permit an innocent American to be subjected to such intrusive surveillance based in part on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or on protected First Amendment activities,” the senators wrote.
- Allow the government to collect foreign intelligence information inside the United States without current legal protections for U.S. citizens or legal residents. The senators noted that the broad term “foreign intelligence” would cover any information relating to the activities of a foreign government, organization or person.
- Allow the information gathered to be broadly shared among government agencies. “We have serious questions about the scope of information sharing as it relates to U.S. persons who are under no suspicion of wrongdoing,” the senators wrote.
We can only pray that the Congressional Health Insurance covers spinal transplants, so these people can each get them one. Talk about a toothless tiger.