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Administration Wants Secret Power to Seize Records

by TChris

Ever eager to grab more power while evading judicial scrutiny, the Bush administration wants to give the FBI the power to subpoena business and financial records without satisfying a judge that the records are likely to reveal evidence of a crime. Federal investigators would avoid judicial review of document seizures by declaring that the records are needed in a terrorism investigation. The proposal is consistent with the administration's philosophy: utter the word terrorism and, while everyone ducks, suspend the Constitution.

The proposal, part of a broader plan to extend antiterrorism powers under the USA Patriot Act, was concluded in recent days by Republican leaders on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in consultation with the Bush administration, Congressional officials said.

The folks who brought us the Patriot Act assure us that the proposed side-stepping of judicial review is nothing to worry about. In fact, they can't think of a "coherent argument" against it. Here's one:

"This is a dramatic expansion of the federal government's power," said Lisa Graves, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington. "It's really a power grab by the administration for the F.B.I. to secretly demand medical records, tax records, gun purchase records and all sorts of other material if they deem it relevant to an intelligence investigation."

The government usually has little difficulty persuading a judge to order the production of documents, but even that limited check on unfettered power is too much to bear for the Bush administration.

Update: (TL): The Senate Intelligence Committee is rushing this through and is scheduled to hold a closed-door hearing today. The ACLU has more:

Members of Congress have until the end of the year to review and modify the Patriot Act, but some lawmakers hope to steamroll the entire process through Congress in the next few weeks. This closed-door markup is an indication that some in Congress are trying to rush through legislation, and keep the public in the dark.

Check out the ACLU's sunset page.

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    So if mandatory background checks for gun purchases are just a short hop away from black helicopters and one world government, what exactly is this?

    Re: Administration Wants Secret Power to Seize Rec (none / 0) (#2)
    by soccerdad on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:12 PM EST
    How long before dissenters of the government's policies are considered terrorist supporters? Are you with us or against us?

    Re: Administration Wants Secret Power to Seize Rec (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:12 PM EST
    At this rate, search warrants and subpoenas will be alltogether obsolete within a couple years. Let's all drink to the death of freedom! It was good while it lasted.

    Where are the right thinkers on this thread? RA, Jim, et al - do you think this is a good thing?

    Re: Administration Wants Secret Power to Seize Rec (none / 0) (#5)
    by Johnny on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:12 PM EST
    *Lifts glass to kdog*

    Re: Administration Wants Secret Power to Seize Rec (none / 0) (#6)
    by The Heretik on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:12 PM EST
    Am I the only one who finds it disturbing that a discussion of our privacy is being disussed behind closed doors? The people who should be looking out for us are looking for a cover here. More on this at Red, White, and Very Blue: The Patriot Act Review I did link to this over there as well. WE could all use some um linking together on this. Thanks.

    Re: Administration Wants Secret Power to Seize Rec (none / 0) (#7)
    by Lora on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:12 PM EST
    Thsi is not about terrorism. This is about having the power in their hands to remove, silence, squeeze, threaten and otherwise disempower anyone who they view as a threat to their policies. If you've ever cheated on your taxes, or broken the law in minor ways, and who of us haven't? Look out. If they don't like you, more and more they have the means to render you harmless to them and possibly ruin your life and the lives of those who still actually believe in democracy. The coup is here already.

    Re: Administration Wants Secret Power to Seize Rec (none / 0) (#9)
    by pigwiggle on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:12 PM EST
    Uh unreasonable search and seizure? I understand that I yield a certain amount of privacy at my bank (anyone read their banks privacy policy?). But what if I decide to run a bank tomorrow and offer my customers a bulletproof privacy agreement? There is nothing more important than personal liberty, nothing.

    Re: Administration Wants Secret Power to Seize Rec (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:12 PM EST
    100% right pig...there is nothing more important. Unfortunately, it seems like our leaders see freedom more as a nuisance.

    Re: Administration Wants Secret Power to Seize Rec (none / 0) (#11)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:12 PM EST
    Kdog & Pigwiggle, The POTUS does not agree with you. His positon is that the fight aganst terrists is more important than personal freedom. Talk about treason!

    Re: Administration Wants Secret Power to Seize Rec (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:12 PM EST
    A traitor to our ideals...Amen Che.

    I believe it was Ayn Rand I got this from..."Anthem". Agree with that particular sentiment, but you can get a lot of other things from Rand too. I doubt that she would extend much empathy to the criminal cowering in the corner, nominally depending on what kind of society convicted them.

    Re: Administration Wants Secret Power to Seize Rec (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:12 PM EST
    Tampa...I am no fan of her philosophy as a whole, but that statement I paraphrased above ringed true to me. I enjoyed "Anthem" much more than her other novels.