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FBI Violates FOIA Statute to Keep Patriot Act Practices a Secret

In policy debates, knowledge is power. It is impossible to determine whether a problem exists in the implementation of a government program if the government won’t release information about the execution of that program. While the Obama administration is asking Americans to let the FBI continue three Patriot Act programs — sneak and peek searches, grabs of business records, and the designation of an individual “lone wolf” as if he or she were an agent of a foreign power — the same Obama administration has not released detailed information the extent of Americans’ civil liberties violations under their execution.

Seeking to gain such information, the Electronic Frontier Foundation made a formal Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI on September 25, 2009, asking for:

1) all records (including but not limited to FBI communications with other Justice Department components) discussing or reflecting the Bureau’s assessment of the effectiveness of the three provisions; and

2) all records discussing or reflecting any instances in which the use of the authorities granted in the three provisions were deemed to be possibly unlawful or contrary to Executive order or Presidential directive, including but not limited to matters that were considered for referral to the Intelligence Oversight Board.

Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, the EFF is within its rights to make this request, and was supposed to receive results from this FOIA request within 20 working days. As of today, nearly 8 months after EFF filed its request, it has not received the requested information from the government. In the meantime, FBI powers under these three provisions have already been extended for a year, and deliberations over the permanent extension of these provisions is ongoing in Washington.

Americans have the right to know what the FBI is doing to them. The FBI has the responsibility to follow the law. Rather than giving up, the EFF is now filing a lawsuit to force the Obama administration to follow the law and, as the President promised to do in his campaign, let the sunshine in.

2 comments to FBI Violates FOIA Statute to Keep Patriot Act Practices a Secret

  • Tom

    Still more evidence that “our government” is a sham. We have to play by “the rules” (of law) while “they” don’t. They spy on us but we’re not allowed to see how and where our money is spent, what’s going on, or even get once public information. i don’t know how much more of this is going to be allowed to continue without a HUGE mass of disgruntled people stopping the paying of their taxes (the ones they still have some control over like school and income taxes – just keep your money out of the banks so they can’t get it as much as possible) or debts of any kind (like credit card and car loans, student loans, and mortgages).

    i’m still stumped as to why it’s taking so long for Americans of all stripes to WAKE THE FUCK UP to the reality of our completely failed government (and don’t dare call it a democracy without risking uncontrollable insane laughter), backed by a fictitious economy based on DEBT rather than wealth and funded by the Wall Street casino of make-believe.

    Jobs are still vanishing, shrinking, and unable for many to obtain (as is health insurance, unemployment compensation and soon social security and medicare as a result), the media lies to us and keeps us uninformed for the most part and is just distraction 24/7 for most, elections don’t change anything and the entire system is corrupted to the core and ineffective for significant and meaningful change. It’s common knowledge that there is a (at least) two-tiered legal system here too.

    Many of us are depressed into a state of little to no energy for anything but the bare essentials (and some are failing at that) from endless, fruitless “job” searches into going-nowhere places or companies managed by scum of the earth H/R departments that may as well have ROBOTS make the decisions as these zombies. Too many are angry with no place to vent except through random or pointed violence. The police are tazer crazy and trigger happy, knowing in their hearts what’s coming and causing it to happen due to these very actions.

    A few voices are calling out in warning, directing us to form REAL communities with our neighbors and make alliances with other close-by neighborhoods to begin growing their own, bartering, stocking up, pooling resources, organizing for a time of collapse. Most won’t be ready. Even those who are prepared will find the coming chaos overwhelming.

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