The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is granting its some 14,000 agents vast new powers to snoop on American citizens "proactively" and without any evidence whatsoever for suspecting criminal behavior.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.
The F.B.I. soon plans to issue a new edition of its manual, called the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, according to an official who has worked on the draft document and several others who have been briefed on its contents. The new rules add to several measures taken over the past decade to give agents more latitude as they search for signs of criminal or terrorist activity.
Nevermind that the FBI abuses "national security letters" along with every other "power" they've already grabbed, because our benevolent
agents angels can't be "burdened" with such nonsense like legal procedure and that damn "Bill of Rights" when attempting to spy on fellow American citizens. Especially when they're dealing with low-level "suspects," you know, people on whom they have no evidence at all.
Some of the most notable changes apply to the lowest category of investigations, called an "assessment." The category, created in December 2008, allows agents to look into people and organizations "proactively" and without firm evidence for suspecting criminal or terrorist activity.
Under current rules, agents must open such an inquiry before they can search for information about a person in a commercial or law enforcement database. Under the new rules, agents will be allowed to search such databases without making a record about their decision.
[Michael German, a former F.B.I. agent who is now a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union] said the change would make it harder to detect and deter inappropriate use of databases for personal purposes. But [F.B.I. general counsel Valerie E. Caproni] said it was too cumbersome to require agents to open formal inquiries before running quick checks.
The new rules will also relax a restriction on administering lie-detector tests and searching people's trash. Under current rules, agents cannot use such techniques until they [have] a factual basis for suspecting someone of wrongdoing. But soon agents will be allowed to use those techniques ... when they are evaluating a target as a potential informant.
Agents ... want the ability to use information found in a subject's trash to put pressure on that person to assist the government in the investigation of others ... information gathered that way could also be useful for other reasons, like determining whether the subject might pose a threat to agents.
In addition, the manual clarifies a description of what qualifies as a "sensitive investigative matter" — investigations, at any level, that require greater oversight from supervisors because they involve public officials, members of the news media or academic scholars.
The manual clarifies the definition of who qualifies for extra protection as a legitimate member of the news media in the Internet era: prominent bloggers would count, but not people who have low-profile blogs. And it will limit academic protections only to scholars who work for institutions based in the United States.
It sounds like we're heading in the direction of defining free speech as a crime. Approved "prominent bloggers" are a-okay, but the little people ... not so much.
Freedom is slavery.
The 2008 treatise is an interesting read. It generally follows the following model: assertion of a civic cliche (such as free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion) followed by an explanation of why this cliche, while important and true as far as it goes, has no relevance for the FBI.
An example of this tactic:
The sensitivity related to an academic institution arises from the American tradition of "academic freedom" (e.g., ah atmosphere in which students and faculty are free to express unorthodox ideas and views and to challenge conventional thought without fear of repercussion). Academic freedom does not mean, however, that academic institutions are off limits to FBI investigators in pursuit of information or individuals of legitimate investigative interest.
This goes on for 269 pages. It makes a mockery of the Bill of Rights – the essential flaw of which is that the government that the Bill of Rights is supposed to restrict is the same government that is charged with enforcing it. This is like getting a lock on your door to prevent robberies but giving a key to every potential robber should it ever be needed for anything.
Basically, the FBI has officially shifted from investigating actual crime, to snooping on people to see whether they might be "suspicious" or not. Suspicious, that is, to our benevolent overlords. Welcome to the Orwellian world of precrime law enforcement.
Knowing that their jobs require an ever-increasing supply of "criminals," the FBI is becoming more proficient at creating a plentiful supply of "criminals" to justify their services. We can safely assume that FBI agents have been given considerable career incentives to maximize their surveillance of innocent Americans too. This is how bureaucracy works.
How Did We Get Here?
In the end, I must blame "We the People." After all, we're the one's who allowed this to happen. More specifically though, I blame those who call themselves "conservatives." Because it is the so-called conservatives who laid claim to the fight against Big Government and continue to do so, yet have never done jack about it.
Even worse, the so-called "conservatives" have joined the Progressive choir singing songs about a "charismatic leader" who will guide them, keep them safe, secure, and provide meaning for their lives.
The anti-state Old Right has been snuffed out of existence and replaced with progressive neoconservatism. "Beating the Democrats" trumps liberty every single time! Faith in God has been traded for faith in politicians. Christian Just War Doctrine discarded in favor of unholy Total War. Christianity itself has virtually been replaced by the State. Whether you're "left" or "right" doesn't matter much anymore. Americans heart their benevolent government.
The police state we're living in today, where paramilitary raids are executed daily and American citizens are gunned down in cold blood, is rooted in the progressive idea of prohibition, now championed by "conservatives," and the completely illogical hero worship of President George W. Bush to whom "conservatives" couldn't possibly grant enough power.
Lord Acton famously declared that, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Russell Kirk said that "the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions." They were talking about original sin and why no man should be trusted with power. But "it's different this time" they cried, purposefully refusing to listen.
Power does corrupt, and it's always "different this time." These 2 axioms conservatives are supposed to know best. Yet, it's so-called "conservatives" who have been the folks most willing grant, and even advocate for, unlimited Executive powers, extraconstitutional policing authority, and as much of that virtuous institution of war we can possibly get ... then more.
War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense...the nation in war-time attains a uniformity of feeling, a hierarchy of values culminating at the undisputed apex of the State ideal, which could not possibly be produced through any other agency than war... -- Randolph Bourne
Apparently, original sin doesn't apply to agents of the government. Well, that is, original sin doesn't apply to the military, law enforcement, and certainly not Republican politicians. Right? Politicians are all-knowing, patriotic, sinless heroes. It's our neighbors we gotta worry about.
Accordingly, the United States has degenerated into an emerging tyranny in which the Ruling Class has "rights" and privileges the rest of us do not. Pretty cool, huh? Freedom is slavery.
You own this one "conservatives." It is you who built the American Police State in our once "land of the free." But the only question that matters now is, "Are you going to do something about it?" Or are you simply going to continue bitching about the Democrats without bothering to get your own house in order ... in blind obedience to the blasphemous 11th commandment?