FBI Dir Robert Mueller wants the Congress to let him keep the power given him by the PATRIOT Act to use NSLs despite his total failure to supervise that use by his agents.
Mueller expressed concern about any modifications to the USA Patriot Act that might “handcuff us” in terrorism investigations, but he also said that the FBI would be willing to jettison its authority to use national security letters if it is granted the power to use administrative subpoenas to collect the same information.
This is a very bad idea. During his tenure, Mueller has made any number of promises to Congress – including a promise made during the hearings on re-authorization of the Act that he would not allow abuse of the power he now admits his agency abused – and somebody’s going to have to point me toward a single one of them he’s actually kept because I can’t find it. Dianne Feinstein rightly complained that there’s no excuse for the lack of supervision Mueller now takes responsibility for.
“This was a very controversial addition to the Patriot Act,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said about the FBI’s authority to use the national security letters. “There were many members that had deep concerns about this. The language was negotiated. We were very specifically trying to put in checks and balances. And then it appears they all just melted into oblivion with sloppy administration.”
Again, Sen Feinstein, it was NOT “sloppy”. It was deliberate. Continue reading