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The Hearing You Didn’t Hear About on Illegal FBI Surveillance

If you get your news from — oh, call me crazy — the news, you’d have no idea that last Wednesday the House Judiciary Committee held contentious hearings on illegal FBI surveillance of thousands of people, from everyday schmoes to American news bureaus. This hearing has had no coverage from professional journalists, despite all kinds of fireworks:

* John Conyers suggesting that FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni be fired for her complacent reaction to and in some cases approval of lawbreaking by FBI agents.

* The declaration by a Republican on the Judiciary Committee that, by gum, Conyers is right.

* References by Caproni to a classified legal memo written by the Obama Justice Department at the beginning of this year. This memo, which I can’t link to because the government won’t let you see it, apparently declares that the FBI doesn’t need to follow current law to gather Americans’ phone records.

* Intimations that Congress may have known about illegal FBI surveillance against Americans as far back as 2007, the year when the Protect America Act was passed and long before the FISA Amendments Act was passed into law, granting the U.S. Government even more power to pry into private lives without warrants.

There’s much more, including letters and demands and probing questions and some rather embarrassing absences. We’ll share these with you over the next few days: for now, head here to watch the hearing for yourself. Thanks are due to John Conyers and Jerrold Nadler for finally bringing oversight powers to bear on this violation of the law and Americans’ dignity.

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