Friday, March 7, 2014

When You Just Don't Know...

I love to quote Donald Rumsfeld.  Sometimes "we don't know what we don't know."

Senator Walsh Introduces Bill to Restrict NSA and FBI Snooping

"He (Senator Walsh) said his bill, if passed, would end the secret, mass collection of telephone, bank, credit and Internet-usage records by government agencies such as the NSA and the FBI, which say the records are used in anti-terrorism investigations.

Any request for such records would need approval by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and the requesting agency would have to focus on a specific individual and provide specific facts on why the information is relevant to an investigation of international terrorism or foreign intelligence.

The bill also applies similar restrictions to national security letters, or NSLs, which are used by the FBI to request the same type of records directly from banks, phone companies and credit firms without the knowledge of their customers.

Under the bill, an FBI agent would need judicial approval to send an NSL, and would have to provide specific information on the letter’s target."

After 9/11, there was much talk about the "wall" between "National Security" investigations and "Criminal" investigations.  There was talk about why the FBI and the CIA don't cooperate.  The reason was that - when conducting a criminal investigation, an investigator gathers evidence for use in court.  There are laws, rules and procedures set up for this.  When trying to stop a terrorist, or a spy, you just stop try to stop them (I know, I'm simplifying).  However, federal bureaucracy and too many lawyers created a system in which it was more difficult to conduct a "National Security" type investigation than it was to conduct a "Criminal Investigation."

Nothing, really, has changed.  If 9/11 had not happened, and the FBI was "on" to some of the suspected hijackers - there are more rules, procedures, and laws in place, that it is more difficult now, than it was before.  Remember, none of them were committing crimes, until they committed the ultimate crime.

The law proposed by Senator Walsh seems simple enough, right?  If the government wants the records, they simply have to go to a court and request them.  But if you remember, the NSA collection of phone records, WAS APPROVED by the FISA court regularly, and congress has worked to tighten the existing law with regard to this collection.

Big government should be feared.  The bigger the government the smaller the citizen.  I believe this.

But Senator Walsh does not even know what he doesn't know...


Race Bannon said...

I know readers of this blog will disagree with me on this issue. First, separate it from Obama - he hates the NSA and FBI as much as the ACLU. Second, there will be abuses (see Snowden, and others), but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. The telephone companies have no need to pay for the computer space to store data, so electronic records are being deleted, or never stored in the first place - and that is the 21st century paper trail for terrorists and criminals alike.

LL said...

I don't think that your loyal readers will disagree with you on this. At least I don't. Common sense dictates that prudent surveillance takes place with regard to enemies of the nation.

The problem with the Obama Administration in particular is that their definition of "enemies" has strayed from genuine terrorists to ALSO include such people as "Tea Party Groups", who have no intent to violate any constituted laws. Therefore there has been a backlash of suspicion that the government is using federal agencies to target political opponents as well as genuine criminals or people who would do us harm (future criminals).

Discontent comes when one begins to view the federal government not as an enabler, but as a disabler. There are always a few who feel that way, but increasingly the public has taken this perspective to heart. Unfortunately the fish rots from the head down.

Euripides said...

The FISA court was the second biggest farce perpetrated on the American people in recent history. (Obama is the first.) The idea that a court like that actually protects citizen rights is naive and laughable. who knows really if Walsh is a perp or a dupe in all of this.

Woodsterman (Odie) said...

I don't know what?

Brig said...

+1 for LL's comment.