Monday, May 14, 2012

FBI Wants Greater Surveillance Powers

by Stephen Lendman

FBI Director Robert Mueller wants Congress to enact greater surveillance powers following the false flag underwear bomb plot blamed on Al Qaeda.

In May 9 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, he said:

"We've seen over the last several days, particularly with regard to the IED that was recently recovered, that terrorism is and should be and continues to be our No. 1 priority and the No. 1 priority of a number of our intelligence agencies."

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance provisions expire at yearend. National Intelligence Director James Clapper and Attorney General Eric Holder call renewing them the intelligence community's top legislative priority. 

So does Mueller. He also wants more. His May 9 testimony suggested it. He stopped short of specifics. He'll engage lawmakers privately. 

False flags create opportunities. That's why they're staged. Mueller plans taking full advantage.

Former White House chief of staff/current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel explained, saying:
"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."
After the December 2009 underwear bomber false flag, Washington's war on Yemen escalated and enhanced airport screening began. 

Post-9/11, police state harshness followed. New measures compound earlier ones. America became a total surveillance society. Domestic spying became policy. Mueller plans intensifying it. He wants legal cover for lawless or dubious practices.

Throughout its 105 year history, the FBI operated within and outside the law. J. Edgar Hoover ran it from 1924 - 1972. He waged war on communists, anti-war, human and civil rights activists, the American Indian Movement, Black Panther Party, and other groups challenging rogue state policies.

He ordered agents to infiltrate, disrupt, sabotage, and destroy their activism for ethnic justice, racial emancipation, and real economic, social, and political equality across gender and color lines.

"War on terror" authority escalated FBI abuses. Intrusive surveillance tools used against alleged spies now target ordinary Americans. Independent and internal audits revealed widespread FBI mismanagement, unchecked authority, and abuse of power.

During Bush's tenure, Attorney General Guidelines underwent four separate changes. Each one increased FBI surveillance powers.

On September 4, 2001, Robert Mueller became FBI Director. In 2002, he told Congress that the FBI had no plans to infiltrate Muslim communities or mosques. He lied.

Post-9/11, America waged war on Islam. Agent provocateurs played a key part. They still do. In 2009, Mueller defended intrusive tactics. He said the FBI wouldn't "take (its) foot off the pedal of addressing counterterrorism."

In 2005, the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general (IG) audited the FBI's compliance with AG Guidelines. Major deficiencies were found. Most preliminary inquiries exceeded their legal limit. Required authorizations weren't sought. 

The Agency failed to maintain proper records. As a result, many activities remain secret. In December 2008, AG Michael Mukasey instituted new guidelines. They authorized "assessment" investigations. They involve national security related suspect illegal activities.

Mukasey let FBI agents become more intrusive. Tactics include greater physical surveillance, commercial database data retrieval, using paid informants to infiltrate groups (or target individuals) on false pretenses, and letting covert unidentified agents conduct "pretext" interviews for information.

Mukasey's Guidelines left ordinary Americans increasingly vulnerable to abuse. Anyone may be investigated for any reason or none at all.

Explicit authorization permits surveillance and infiltration of anti-war and other social justice groups. OWS activists are targeted. Any organization or individual is vulnerable. A gloves off, no-holds barred approach is followed.

An internal FBI implementation guide contains disturbing information. Called the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG), it reveals how agents use race, ethnicity, national origin, and other discriminatory criteria in conducting assessments and investigations.

Doing so violates federal statutes. The DOJ's 2003 Guidance on the Use of Race in Federal Law Enforcement is ignored. It says race can't be used "to any degree" absent a specific subject description. Agents use it and other criteria as sole factors for targeting groups and individuals.

Abuse of power under Mueller intensified. Vast amounts of information are collected about ordinary Americans. Unchecked data mining continues. The Agency's National Security Branch Analysis Center (NSAC) amassed hundreds of millions of records from public and private sources. Much is obtained illicitly. 

Virtually anything is fair game, including financial data, medical records, so-called "suspicious activity reports," and other personal information unrelated to alleged or possible criminal activity.

The USA Patriot Act authorized so-called National Security Letters (NSLs). They expanded the FBI's authority to obtain personal customer records from ISPs, financial institutions, credit companies, and other sources without prior court approval.

Innocent people are targeted. Virtually anything in public or private records can be obtained. "Gag" orders prevent targeted individuals or groups from revealing the information demanded. NSL use continues increasing exponentially. 

Between 2003 and 2006 alone, the DOJ's IG reported nearly 200,000 NSLs issued. By now, they may exceed a million. Using them violates constitutional freedoms. They've eroded enormously en route to disappearing altogether.

Fusion Centers also target personal freedoms. They operate at state, local and regional levels. Originally created to share anti-terrorism intelligence, their mission expanded to include "all (alleged) crimes and all hazards."

Information sought way exceeds material related to criminal intelligence. It includes public and private sector data. Other government entities are involved. So aren't military ones. Dozens of fusion centers operate nationwide. Privacy is grievously breached.

America's war on terror threatens it at unprecedented levels. Innocent people are wrongly targeted. Anything or anyone called "suspicious" is fair game. The FBI has a virtual open field to commit abuses. Mueller took full advantage but wants more. Once Congress acts, we'll know specifics.

America now wages war on freedom. It's perilously close to vanishing. One more major domestic terror attack may end it. Mueller wants unrestricted power to act. He may get it.

The Fourth Amendment states:
"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."
Today, privacy is null and void. Patriot Act provisions destroyed it. "Exigent circumstances" exempt Fourth Amendment restrictions against warrantless searches.

"Sneak and peak" ones are conducted through "delayed notice" warrants. Roving wiretaps are used to track phone and online content. Private records are obtained. Mueller takes full advantage. He menaces personal freedom.

On May 4, contributor Declan McCullagh headlined "FBI: We need wiretap-ready Web sites - now," saying:
Mueller wants "backdoor" surveillance powers. At issue is "the dramatic shift in communication from the telephone to the Internet...." It's thus harder for FBI and other federal agencies to obtain wiretap information.
The FBI drafted a proposal to require "social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly."

Doing so would amend the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). It currently applies to telecommunication companies, not Web ones. In 2004, the FCC extended CALEA to include broadband networks.

The FCC "is considering reinterpreting CALEA" to include "products that allow video or voice chat over the Internet - from Skype to Google Hangouts to Xbox Live" - to facilitate FBI backdoor surveillance.

The Agency fears without expanded power it risks its surveillance capability "going dark." Its proposal is part of DOJ's "National Electronic Surveillance Strategy."

In May 2011, the ACLU opposed extending Mueller's tenure another two years. It hadn't been done since Nixon retained JE Hoover. His abuse of power got Congress to raise issues of retaining FBI directors too long.

Hoover's power made presidents and congressional members fear crossing him. The ACLU raised serious post-9/11 constitutional breaches. Mueller bears his share of responsibility. Congress set a 10-year term limit for good reason.

On May 12, Obama asked Congress to extend Mueller another two years. His term expired last September 4. On July 27, the Senate approved it. He'll serve until September 4, 2013. He may be extended again. The longer he remains, the harder it is to replace him. Obama or Romney perhaps won't try.

A Final Comment

Former Congresswoman, Green Party Presidential candidate, and prominent human rights activist Cynthia McKinney knows about FBI targeting firsthand.

In November 2011, she recounted her concerns. She explained threats from "so-called radio 'shock jock,' Hal Turner." The FBI bankrolled him. In 2006, he announced on air "that I should be lynched on my way to vote."

In 2009, McKinney learned of his FBI connection. "Sadly," she said, "Capitol Hill Police did nothing" to protect her "even after a direct threat" on her life. Perhaps the FBI incited it. 

"My story is that I struggled in the Congress with mean-spirited threats all of the time." She faced "(n)asty name calling, racial slurs, even stalking and bomb threats."

She handled it courageously. Her activism remains undeterred. Her political activities continue. She opposes Obama's imperial wars. 

She's outspoken against homeland injustice. She knows its potential firsthand. Federal agents sworn to serve and protect, in fact, are menacing. They stalk, target and terrorize.

Mueller now wants more power. He asked Congress for legislative authority to target America's vulnerable more effectively. 

Everyone's at risk, especially activists challenging policies ravaging humanity at home and abroad. Political Washington, Mueller, and others around them support wealth and power. 

Ordinary people are trampled so they benefit. Changing what's intolerable is top priority. Imagine what’s possible if attained. Imagine the protracted nightmare otherwise. Sustained activism for change can prevent it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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