In a review of nearly 2,500 pages of documents released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a result of litigation under the Freedom of Information Act, EFF uncovered alarming trends in the Bureau’s intelligence investigation practices. The documents consist of reports made by the FBI to the Intelligence Oversight Board of violations committed during intelligence investigations from 2001 to 2008. The documents suggest that FBI intelligence investigations have compromised the civil liberties of American citizens far more frequently, and to a greater extent, than was previously assumed. [Emphasis added.] In particular, EFF’s analysis provides new insight into:The violation of protected constitutional rights and liberties on the part of the government, aided and abetted by corporate interests, has become routine under the conditions of the reigning two-party state. There are few signs that the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties have any intention of reversing course on these matters. Indeed, they are more likely than not to simply double down. For instance, though it is scheduled to expire, the Patriot Act appears to be on track for its yearly renewal. From TPM:
Number of Violations Committed by the FBI
Substantial Delays in the Intelligence Oversight Process
- From 2001 to 2008, the FBI reported to the IOB approximately 800 violations of laws, Executive Orders, or other regulations governing intelligence investigations, although this number likely significantly under-represents the number of violations that actually occurred.
- From 2001 to 2008, the FBI investigated, at minimum, 7000 potential violations of laws, Executive Orders, or other regulations governing intelligence investigations.
- Based on the proportion of violations reported to the IOB and the FBI’s own statements regarding the number of NSL violations that occurred, the actual number of violations that may have occurred from 2001 to 2008 could approach 40,000 possible violations of law, Executive Order, or other regulations governing intelligence investigations. [Emphasis added.]
Type and Frequency of FBI Intelligence Violations
- From 2001 to 2008, both FBI and IOB oversight of intelligence activities was delayed and likely ineffectual; on average, 2.5 years elapsed between a violation’s occurrence and its eventual reporting to the IOB.
- From 2001 to 2008, of the nearly 800 violations reported to the IOB:
- over one-third involved FBI violation of rules governing internal oversight of intelligence investigations.
- nearly one-third involved FBI abuse, misuse, or careless use of the Bureau’s National Security Letter authority.
- almost one-fifth involved an FBI violation of the Constitution, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or other laws governing criminal investigations or intelligence gathering activities.
- From 2001 to 2008, in nearly half of all NSL violations, third-parties to whom NSLs were issued — phone companies, internet service providers, financial institutions, and credit agencies —contributed in some way to the FBI’s unauthorized receipt of personal information. [Emphasis added.]
- From 2001 to 2008, the FBI engaged in a number of flagrant legal violations, including:
- submitting false or inaccurate declarations to courts.
- using improper evidence to obtain federal grand jury subpoenas.
- accessing password protected documents without a warrant.
At the end of next month, two of the Patriot Act's controversial provisions -- one authorizing "roving" wiretapping and one allowing the government to pull all sorts of records and electronic communications from U.S. citizens -- will expire. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has already introduced legislation that would simply extend the provisions for one more year. That would essentially be a repeat of what happened a year ago, after the provisions expired in December 2009.Yesterday, at the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf considered a Republican-led push to force Internet service providers to store records of their users’ activities for years to allow review of those activities by police, and asked whether "spying on us is in the pledge." His reflection on the matter underscores the hopelessness of those who remain imprisoned by the ideology of the two-party state. He writes:
With President Obama continuing his awful record on civil liberties – without much objection from elected Democratic officials – and the GOP reminding us why liberty-minded people loathed their prior stint running Congress, there's basically nowhere left for libertarians to turn. I don't begrudge anyone for thinking they're better off aligning with the Republicans or the Democrats. But I can't stand folks who pretend that advocates of overweening government are all on one side, or that the right thing to do at the ballot box is obvious. [Emphasis added.]Perhaps Friedersdorf has never heard of the Libertarian Party. Or maybe he's just willfully obtuse.