home

Mueller: From Now On, We'll Obey the Law

FBI Director Robert Mueller's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee amounts to this: Yes, we abused our Patriot Act authority by spying on Americans who weren't suspected of terrorism, even though we promised that we wouldn't, but now that we've been caught, we really really promise not to abuse that authority again, so please don't take it away.

Senator Leahy's response:

"Last year the administration sought new powers in the Patriot Act to appoint U.S. Attorneys without Senate confirmation and to more freely use National Security Letters," Leahy said in opening remarks. "The administration got these powers, and they have badly bungled both."

Last week, Leahy said "we need to consider whether Congress went too far" when it removed restrictions on FBI use of national security letters. The Senate should remove that authority altogether. If the FBI wants to snoop into personal information, it should get a warrant.

Senator Specter's proposed solution is to give the government even more power than it already has by "establishing a separate domestic intelligence agency like Britain's MI-5." We don't need an arm of government with no job to do beyond spying on Americans. Rather, we need a set of laws that reinforce the Framers' intent: if the executive branch wants to snoop, it should satisfy the judicial branch that it has probable cause to do so. If it can't make that minimal showing, it shouldn't be allowed to invade our privacy.

< Tuesday Open Thread | The "Pragmatic" Iraq Supplemental Plan: GOP Senators Will "Win" It for Dems >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft


  • Display: Sort:
    Frankly, the only words from Specter which (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by scribe on Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 02:04:26 PM EST
    deserve hearing are:  "I resign."  The man is a disgrace - and I believe I have in the deep past voted for him.

    As to the so-called PATRIOT Act, the best fix is repealing it.  No fuss, no muss, no bother.

    And to all those ninnies who will talk about how "that's helping terrists" or some other such bullsh*t, we need only look to Elizabeth Edwards for example.  

    Huh?

    Yeah.  

    To be blunt:  in all likelihood, she's going to die.  Years before her time.*

    Just like all the people who died on 9/11 died years before their times.  

    If Edwards won't go home, suck her thumb and cower in the shadows on a fainting couch when faced with a death sentence of cancer, why should any healthy American run and hide when some government guy jumps up, yells "Boo - Terrist"?  

    There is no good reason.

    FWIW, avoiding that realization was the whole thrust of Chirpy Katie Couric's push-push-push Sunday night, trying to get the Edwardses to show that quivering before untimely death is OK.

    The so-called PATRIOT act won't bring back the days before 9/11, nor the lives lost.  It only makes our lives harder.  It won't change the salient fact:  every one of us will pass from this mortal coil one day and nothing we say or do can change that.  Passing the so-called PATRIOT act won't change that.  Terrists depend for success upon people living in fear of dying.  If you're all going to die anyway, there is no point in fearing it;  it's inevitable.  Which is why both terrism and the so-called PATRIOT act are just wasted time and effort.

    And that, among many other good reasons, is why the so-called PATRIOT act should be repealed.  

    Thanks, Elizabeth.

    -
    *  I've seen it.  I had a friend who had a condition similar (almost identical) to Edwards'.  She fought - hard - for nearly three years, and ultimately lost, late last year.  Aged 34.  7 courses of chemo, three of radiation, holistic diet, volunteering for experimental therapies, you name it.  Couldn't get another day for love or money - and both were available in abundance.  

    If only this worked.... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 02:04:39 PM EST
    in criminal court.  

    "I swear your honor, that was the last joint I will ever smoke.  You can drop the charges...I promise."

    Well ya' know pilgrims . . . (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by walt on Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 02:31:55 PM EST
    . . . it's sort of empowering to realize that the FBI is using special letters, without actually writing any up & sending them (!), in order to acquire domestic intelligence.

    If the FBI could obtain any "intelligence" at all it would probably be lost before they became smart enough to use it.

    Yes, they tell Sen. Leahy "we really mean it, this time," & then Mueller has his fingers crossed behind his back.

    The dope-smoking analogy is instructive.  The FBI replies look like some not-to-bright comments by a juvenile.

    Let's see: how many terrorists have the Germans captured? the British? the Spanish? the Pakastanis? the Phillipines?  OK, heckuva job there you "not Americans."

    Now, how many terrasts or terriers or terrists or tourists did the USofA's FBI capture?  Zero.  Nada. Ziff. Zilch.          Really!

    Wow.

    Maybe they need some more Patriot Act.

    Nice to see them admitting their crimes. (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Edger on Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 02:46:57 PM EST
    That should relieve them of responsibility, yes? Yes, of course...

    I thought it was the FBIs job to keep me in line (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 02:52:19 PM EST
    and not terrorizing my own country and countrymen?  They've done a pretty good job so far other than breaking some laws, no need to replace them.  I haven't stepped too far out of line.

    Look (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Edger on Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 03:10:30 PM EST
    Maybe if you would quit thinking so much and asking so many questions the FBI wouldn't be having such a hard time keeping up, and be needing all the extra judicial powers.

    Ya think? Stop that.

    Parent

    Squeaky (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Che's Lounge on Wed Mar 28, 2007 at 12:28:32 AM EST
    thinks Kdog would sooner give up MJ than Meuller would stop spying on us. That's accurate IMO. Mueller is definitely 1 toke over the line.

    question (none / 0) (#6)
    by zaitzefftheunconvicted2 on Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 02:55:42 PM EST
    How come the FBI's misuse of the NSL privilege is not a crime with any sort of sanctions involved?

    After all, if a police person goes before a judge and gives false testimony in order to obtain a search warrant, there is a serious risk that the search warrant and all the evidence it produced will be thrown out.  And, the penalties ought to be worse than that, because the police person in fact has committed perjury.

    And the truth is that police persons giving false testimony to obtain search warrants or convictions appears to be relatively common.  Society, for no rational reason, has chosen to overlook these violations.

    So, what is the sanction for FBI cheating on the rules for NSLs?

    Feinstein's Q & A was a shocker to me (none / 0) (#8)
    by Mary on Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 03:18:26 PM EST
    First you had Specter asking Mueller about the FBI chief for the office working with Lam having expressed concerns about the impact on those cases and asking Mueller what he knew about it.

    Mueller's only response is that he knew it happened by reading about it, it's his understanding there might have been a misquote, yada yada and no, he never bothered to call the agent up and speak with the agent about the concerns, although Mueller did have his depuy call him.  Then that gets dropped.

    Back to DiFi later and she says her staff confirmed with the office that the statements were made, but that the office was WARNED NOT TO SAY ANYTHING MORE.

    Got that - on concerns about the adverse effect on an ongoing investiagtion, they were WARNED not to talk to a Senator on the oversight committee's staff.  

    Feinstein to Mueller - did you know abou that?  
    Mueller - yes

    Seems he left out a few things when he spoke to Specter, like the fact that while he never bothered to speak with anyone to inquire about the concerns of the office, he did involve himself enough to know that the agents were warned not to speak with Senate staff.

    When Feinstein says, fine, we'll just subpoena them in if you don't want to let them talk, he begins to backpeddle, but sheez freakin louise - warnings to shut up take precedence over finding out what is going on with the case and trying to protect it?

    And when asked if somehow the agent had managed to breach layers of Mueller's seenoevil hearnoevil speaknoevil to raise concerns about the case with him directly - would he have come to the Committee with the info - no clear answer.

    Kudos to Feinstein and staff for nailing down that Mueller is more invovled in cya for the AG and president than in pursuit and protection of major public corruption cases that would involve the #3 at CIA among others.

    Long quotes, but revealing... (none / 0) (#9)
    by Sumner on Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 03:47:42 PM EST
    "If a gentleman evades a justifiable call he puts himself outside the pale of honour and notification of this fact to honourable society produces his expulsion from it."  -- The British Code of Duel

    To refuse such a challenge would lead to one's ostracization from society and the posting of notices proclaiming the person to be a coward.

    In the introduction of Alberto Gonzales at the National Press Club shortly after he took over for A.G. John Ashcroft, in a review of Gonzales' first 100 days at DOJ:


    "Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, is not only one of the most powerful members of the Cabinet, but one of President Bush's most trusted advisers, ... overseeing a department with a budget of almost $20 billion and a staff of more than 100,000."

    "As Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales stands at the forefront of America's war on terror, seeking renewal and expansion of the Patriot Act".

    "[O]ver the president's stalled judicial nominees, Attorney General Gonzales is out front, leading-the-charge, for an up-or-down Senate vote."

    And from Gonzales:


    "[A] couple of  words that I say about the philosophy that I  bring to the job of Attorney General:

    "I expect to have an open dialogue. Not only about our successes, but also our challenges. In this job, and in public service in general, communication is key. I think that when it is not inconsistent with national security, or law enforcement interests, the government should always try to educate the American people about what we are doing, why we are doing it, and if there's a question, why what we are doing is lawful.

    "This kind of dialogue is important to democracy. And from my perspective, I find it very helpful because it can help clarify the debate and eliminate any potential for misunderstanding. ... Communication is paramount to effective policy making.

    "The president has repeatedly reminded his cabinet, that we are not here to mark time, or to play 'little ball'. Instead, he has instructed us to play 'big ball', to go for the 'big inning'.

    "The American taxpayers ...deserve to know how we are doing.... Are they each being protected equally under the law? Is their government accountable?

    "... [U]nafraid to use terror to intimidate and threaten the United states, I do not believe that they [the terrorists] merely intended to kill Americans that day, they also intended to demoralize our spirit."

    "I'm briefed every morning at the FBI... I meet in the Oval Office with John Negropante and Porter Goss, Bob Muller and Mike Chertoff, to review this information with the President and the Vice President.  

    "We at the Department, are constantly communicating with our interagency partners and state and local agencies to share information. ... We must continue to provide law enforcement with the tools it needs to take the fight to our terrorist enemies. And one of those tools is the Patriot Act. ...

    "I and others in the department, have testified before congress, about the importance and the effectiveness of these authorities. And United States Attorneys, from around the country, have shared stories, of the Act's usefulness. ... This is all part of our effort, to focus on the facts. That is why we have declassified information about the frequency with which we review some of the authorities within the Act.

    "The department has rebutted many misconceptions. There has not been one single verified violation of civil rights, or civil liberties, in the 3-and-a-half-year history of the Patriot Act.

    "Many of the authorities can only be exercised with the permission of a federal judge, and many of the provisions, that have been called extraordinary, have long been available to prosecutors in criminal cases.

    "Now let me share with you my views on civil liberties and the right to privacy. Like all Americans, I cherish these important values. They are principles that stand at the very heart of what it means to live in freedom. And I am committed to preserving these rights in everything that we do in the department.  ... and [I] have been willing to listen to those that have ideas that they believe will clarify or strengthen the law. So here I am.  Let's talk. Let's debate the facts.

    "What I will not accept, are changes to our laws that will make America less safe against terrorism and crime."




    I believe him. (none / 0) (#10)
    by Che's Lounge on Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 07:52:52 PM EST
    Just kidding.

    I believe (none / 0) (#11)
    by squeaky on Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 08:33:42 PM EST
    kdog's promise much more.  

    Parent
    lol (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 27, 2007 at 09:14:08 PM EST
    I know you are kidding, squeaky.

    I couldn't even type it with a straight face.

    Were the hearings on C-Span?  Could Mueller say it with a straight face?

    Parent

    Not Kidding (none / 0) (#14)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 28, 2007 at 11:51:54 AM EST
    Of course I don't believe your theoretical promise, but I belive Mueller way less.

    And yes, I do think that is saying a lot aboul Mueller's credibility.

    Parent