Monday, June 13, 2011

Massive potential for (and thus a virtual guarantee of) official abuse

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents — allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention."

Without having to bother with opening a formal investigation or even being required to make a record of why such persons of interest "attracted their attention" in the first place, according to the article.

We are still waiting for someone to point to the section of the Federal code that authorizes all of these shiny new "powers" that of course have absolutely no potential for misuse, just like with those bogus "national security letters" the FBI kept abusing after 9/11.  Oh wait, they fixed those:

"Valerie E. Caproni, the FBI general counsel, said the bureau had fixed the problems with the national security letters and had taken steps to make sure they would not recur."

But the agency still refuses to tell us just how that process was "fixed".  Somehow we don't feel particularly reassured about this latest policy announcement, and others who know much more than us about the issue don't like it much either:

"The FBI recently briefed several privacy advocates about the coming changes. Among them, Michael German, a former FBI agent who is now a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, argued it was unwise to further ease restrictions on agents’ power to use potentially intrusive techniques, especially if they lacked a firm reason to suspect someone of wrongdoing."

Keep moving, citizen.  Nothing to see here.

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