The Bill of Rights is called the Bill of Rights because it stands as the legal guarantor of your… oh, how to put this?… rights. Here’s one of your rights, outlined in the Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
You can’t be searched and seized without a warrant issuing upon probable cause. That’s your right.
The Bush administration is violating your rights… again.
New FBI guidelines governing investigations were released today after being signed by Attorney General Michael Mukasey…. The attorney general today gave the FBI a blank check to open investigations of innocent Americans based on no meaningful suspicion of wrongdoing.
What? The ACLU is filled with limp-wristed arugula eaters? OK, how about the New York Times:
The Justice Department finalized on Friday an overhaul of rules that will give the Federal Bureau of Investigation freer rein to begin investigations into the possibility of terrorism, even without evidence of wrongdoing….
Among the most controversial aspects of the guidelines is a section that allows F.B.I. agents to open so-called threat assessments to look into general patterns or suspicions about terrorist activity without any specific evidence of wrongdoing. Justice Department officials say this section of the guidelines, which remains virtually unchanged from earlier drafts, will allow agents to be more aggressive in identifying possible terrorist threats.
What’s that you say? The New York Times is another East Coast Jew paper, so it must be lying? All right, how about Congressional Quarterly:
The Justice Department released a new set of FBI investigative guidelines on Friday, despite misgivings about them on Capitol Hill. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey has decided that the guidelines, which do not need congressional approval, will take effect Dec. 1….
The guidelines would allow the FBI to use some techniques — such as grand jury subpoenas for telephone or e-mail subscriber information — without any evidence of wrongdoing….
“It appears that with these guidelines, the attorney general is once again giving the FBI broad new powers to conduct surveillance and use other intrusive investigative techniques on Americans without requiring any indication of wrongdoing or any approval even from FBI supervisors,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt.
Oh, yeah, CQ quoted Senator Patrick Leahy, and he’s from Vermont, and we all know that people from Vermont are, um, well, they’re, uh, hmm, er… maple fuckers?
While you’re trying to figure out your next bigoted epithet, let’s look directly at the source, The Attorney General’s Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations:
Since the authority to collect foreign intelligence enables the FBI to obtain information pertinent to the United States’ conduct of its foreign affairs, even if that information is not related to criminal activity or threats to the national security, the information so gathered may concern lawful activities….
The FBI is an intelligence agency as well as a law enforcement agency. Its basic functions accordingly extend beyond limited investigations of discrete matters, and include broader analytic and planning functions….
The FBI is authorized to conduct investigations to detect, obtain information about, and prevent and protect against federal crimes and threats to the national security and to collect foreign intelligence, as provided in Part II of these Guidelines….
United States persons shall be dealt with openly and consensually to the extent practicable when collecting foreign intelligence that does not concern criminal activities or threats to the national security….
Undisclosed participation in organizations in activities under these Guidelines shall be conducted…
The scope of authorized activities under this Part is not limited to “investigation” in a narrow sense, such as solving particular cases or obtaining evidence for use in particular criminal prosecutions. Rather, these activities also provide critical information needed for broader analytic and intelligence purposes to facilitate the solution and prevention of crime, protect the national security, and further foreign intelligence objectives. These purposes include use of the information in intelligence analysis and planning under Part IV, and dissemination of the information to other law enforcement, Intelligence Community, and White House agencies under Part VI. Information obtained at all stages of investigative activity is accordingly to be retained and disseminated for these purposes as provided in these Guidelines, or in FBI policy consistent with these Guidelines, regardless of whether it furthers investigative objectives in a narrower or more immediate sense.
In the course of activities under these Guidelines, the FBI may incidentally obtain information relating to matters outside of its areas of primary investigative responsibility. For example, information relating to violations of state or local law or foreign law may be incidentally obtained in the course of investigating federal crimes or threats to the national security or in collecting foreign intelligence. These Guidelines do not bar the acquisition of such information in the course of authorized investigative activities, the retention of such information, or its dissemination as appropriate to the responsible authorities in other agencies or jurisdictions….
Assessments, authorized by Subpart A of this Part, require an authorized purpose but not any particular factual predication. For example, to carry out its central mission of preventing the commission of terrorist acts against the United States and its people, the FBI must proactively draw on available sources of information to identify terrorist threats and activities. It cannot be content to wait for leads to come in through the actions of others, but rather must be vigilant in detecting terrorist activities to the full extent permitted by law, with an eye towards early intervention and prevention of acts of terrorism before they occur. Likewise, in the exercise of its protective functions, the FBI is not constrained to wait until information is received indicating that a particular event, activity, or facility has drawn the attention of those who would threaten the national security. Rather, the FBI must take the initiative to secure and protect activities and entities whose character may make them attractive targets for terrorism or espionage. The proactive investigative authority conveyed in assessments is designed for, and may be utilized by, the FBI in the discharge of these responsibilities. For example, assessments may be conducted as part of the FBI’s special events management activities.
More broadly, detecting and interrupting criminal activities at their early stages, and preventing crimes from occurring in the first place, is preferable to allowing criminal plots and activities to come to fruition. Hence, assessments may be undertaken proactively with such objectives as detecting criminal activities; obtaining information on individuals, groups, or organizations of possible investigative interest, either because they may be involved in criminal or national security-threatening activities or because they may be targeted for attack or victimization by such activities; and identifying and assessing individuals who may have value as human sources….
That’s not very Fourth Amendmenty, is it?
Can you come up with a reason to dismiss the FBI’s new guidelines? Perhaps they’re all gay Canadian jugglers.