The Good and Bad of the 9/11 Report

The ACLU provides its take on the 9/11 report released today. The good news: The report is critical of the Adminstration's excessive secrecy and of the USA Patriot Act. It does not recommend that any of the provisions scheduled to sunset be made permanent.

The bad news:

Unfortunately, there are some recommendations that raise civil liberties concerns; two of the most salient are calls for the backdoor creation of national ID cards in the form of a standardized drivers licenses and a cabinet-level intelligence czar. "A Senate-confirmed intelligence director sitting in the White House would be in the hip pocket of the president," Romero added.

The ACLU questioned whether pitting the FBI’s culture of case-oriented law enforcement against the CIA’s culture of covert, subversive operations, under one chief, would result in a further weakening of civil liberties protections in the FBI’s intelligence work. Similarly, if the new director were to have operational control over both domestic and foreign intelligence work - that is, real authority over both the FBI and the CIA - he or she could blur the lines between the agencies’ two very different missions.

The powers accorded intelligence gathering and law enforcment agencies are different for good reason. It prevents the Government from making an end run around the Fourth Amendment. The ACLU has an excellent explanation of the issue here. Additional arguments are available in The Gilmore Report (pdf) which was prepared in 2003 by a federal advisory panel (the Gilmore Commission), chaired by Jim Gilmore, a former Republican Party chairman and Governor of Virginia.

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