The story broke yesterday morning: The FBI acknowledges that for years, it spied on Americans’ telephone calls within the USA, based upon stories about impending terrorist attacks that were completely fabricated by the bureau. Among those the FBI spied upon were many journalists. These actions constitute an illegal abuse of power, and violate the first and fourth amendments to the Constitution to boot.
So, what’s Congress doing about it? We identified the 7 committee chairs in Congress who have some plausible authority to hold hearings and launch investigations of the illegal FBI spying.
Representative Jerrold Nadler, Chair of the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, acted first. He promised to hold hearings, and referred to the FBI’s actions as displaying an “unconstitutional disregard for civil liberties”.
This morning, upon reading the FBI’s report on its homeland hoaxes, Senator Patrick Leahy, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, promised to hold accountable those involved. He also contradicted the FBI’s excuses for its activities, saying, “This was not a matter of technical violation.”
Senator Russ Feingold, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, voiced a strong protest directly to about what he called the “rampant illegalities” by the FBI, speaking directly to FBI Director Robert Mueller at the same Senate hearing on unrelated security matters where Senator Leahy spoke.
Senator Benjamin Cardin, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, when given the opportunity to question Mueller at that same hearing, didn’t say a single thing about the FBI’s spreading of hoaxed evidence of terrorist threats.
John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has not taken action. Ed Towns, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, has neither done nor said anything on the issue – at least not in public. Senator Dick Durbin, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, has been silent.
It appears that if we are going to get a serious inquiry into the FBI’s invention of terrorist conspiracy stories in order to spy against Americans, we’re most likely to get that inquiry started by Representative Nadler, Senator Leahy or Senator Feingold. The remaining congressional Democratic leaders don’t seem to care enough about the integrity of Americans’ constitutional freedoms to raise a peep of opposition to the FBI abuses.