CNET has done a public service by focusing its attention on the testimony of FBI Director Robert Mueller before the House Intelligence Committee on April 23, 2008. No major newspaper or television news network has broken the following news.
Mueller’s testimony began with an admission to Republican congressman Darrell Issa that he already can watch internet activity so long as there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing as to generate a warrant — the warrant required by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:
If you go into a place and there’s a crime actively being committed, let’s say there’s a bookie joint, and there’s tens of thousands of illegal transactions going on every minute. And you know that. And you have proof of that. You don’t question your ability to go in and to harvest the fruit of all the activities in there, is that correct?
Mueller: That’s correct. With a search warrant, quite honestly….
I think legislation has to be developed that balances on one hand, the privacy rights of the individual who are receiving the information, but on the other hand, given the technology, the necessity of having some omnibus search capability utilizing filters that would identify the illegal activity as it comes through and give us the ability to preempt that illegal activity where it comes through a choke point as opposed to the point where it is diffuse on the Internet.
And it is a question of the legislation catching up to the technology. Understanding that these crimes are being committed every moment. But then identifying our ability to focus on the particular criminal element as it’s coming through and pre-empt that criminal element, whether it be .mil, .gov, .com, whichever network you’re talking about.
Omnibus? What is that? Some kind of new Dodge van? The Random House dictionary definition of “omnibus” regarding legislation is “pertaining to, including, or dealing with numerous objects or items at once.”
What Robert Mueller wants the Congress to grant is universal permission to surveill all internet traffic coming into and out of not just .mil or .gov addresses but also .com addresses, and to filter it all for keywords and pattern matches. Without warrants issued on probable cause, as required by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.
And then Robert Mueller wants to “pre-empt that criminal element.” The definition of the verb “pre-empt” is “to forestall or prevent (something anticipated) by acting first.” FBI Director Robert Mueller wants to watch all internet traffic without probable cause warrants, find indicative patterns in it, and use law enforcement authority to “pre-empt that criminal element,” which means to punish citizens before criminal activity has occurred.
Welcome to the world of Big Brother Pre-Crime Enforcement.