Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Quote du Jour

As a conservative, I really resent an administration that calls itself conservative taking the position that the burden is on the citizen to show the government has abused power, and otherwise shut up and comply.
-- Former Congressman Bob Barr, now working with the ACLU to fight the many onerous provisions of the Patriot Act, such as National Security Letters. The WaPo had a lengthy and chilling article on the subject on Sunday.
Ready access to national security letters allows investigators to employ them routinely for "contact chaining."

"Starting with your bad guy and his telephone number and looking at who he's calling, and [then] who they're calling," the number of people surveilled "goes up exponentially," acknowledged Caproni, the FBI's general counsel.

But Caproni said it would not be rational for the bureau to follow the chain too far. "Everybody's connected" if investigators keep tracing calls "far enough away from your targeted bad guy," she said. "What's the point of that?"

One point is to fill government data banks for another investigative technique. That one is called "link analysis," a practice Caproni would neither confirm nor deny.

Two years ago, Ashcroft rescinded a 1995 guideline directing that information obtained through a national security letter about a U.S. citizen or resident "shall be destroyed by the FBI and not further disseminated" if it proves "not relevant to the purposes for which it was collected." Ashcroft's new order was that "the FBI shall retain" all records it collects and "may disseminate" them freely among federal agencies.

The same order directed the FBI to develop "data mining" technology to probe for hidden links among the people in its growing cache of electronic files. According to an FBI status report, the bureau's office of intelligence began operating in January 2004 a new Investigative Data Warehouse, based on the same Oracle technology used by the CIA. The CIA is generally forbidden to keep such files on Americans.

Data mining intensifies the impact of national security letters, because anyone's personal files can be scrutinized again and again without a fresh need to establish relevance.
Combine these flagrant invasions of privacy with the misadministration's insistance that it can lock up anyone, at any time, for any length of time, for any or no reason, and you'll see what we've become--a police state.

BTW, one particular "Justice" Department fascist quoted in the article calls civil liberties objections "eccentric," saying data collection does no harm unless "someone [decides] to act on the information, put you on a no-fly list or something." Which they have done, repeatedly. Anyone who trusts THIS government with our private data is truly a moron.