Illegal FBI Domestic Surveillance With No Consequences, Move Along

The FBI improperly investigated some left-leaning U.S. advocacy groups after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Justice Department said Monday. DoJ cited cases in which agents surveilled and put activists on terrorist watch lists even though they were planning and conducted nonviolent civil disobedience.

And what are the consequences?

“After more than four years of investigation and an exhaustive review of hundreds of investigative decisions the FBI made after the September 11 attacks,” said FBI spokesman Michael P. Kortan, the report “did not uncover even a single instance where the FBI targeted any group or any individual based on the exercise of a First Amendment right.”

He added that although Fine had “disagreed with a handful of the FBI’s investigative determinations over the course of six years,” the inspector general “has not recommended any significant modifications to the FBI’s authority to investigate criminal conduct or national security threats.”

As we noted earlier, thank goodness Fredo, Ashcroft et al. can’t whitewash the whole thing. Imagine the cynicism.


  1. DrLeoStrauss says

    @Sam Lowry
    Agency domestic activities, well you’re right, that horse done left the barn a while ago. On the plus side, the vertical integration intended with local LEOs with fusion centers and new nonsense ‘classification’ categories like ‘sensitive but unclassified’ to show ankle – alot of that integration effort depended on the ankle *and* federal homeland security grants.

  2. Dr Leo Strauss says

    This is an example of contractor absurdity we know about. Congressional and executive reluctance to oversee contracting all but ensures this episode is a tip of the iceberg. After all, who really cares $9 billion in cash just vanished?

  3. Comment says

    Btw – there are quite a lot of people who support tracking that guy just because his name.

  4. Comment says

    We’re not libertarian – but no President ever gives up any police/surv power. They all try to expand it. We think it’s the nature of power – Any sign of slackening or liberty giving serves to undermine the general presumption of the executive.

    Not sure what can be done to get America back to Arcadia.

  5. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Some people are surprised the Obama Administration’s DOJ permits FBI interception of domestic callers calling an overseas number without even bothering to request court authorization. They apparently did know Obama is asking for Patriot Act re-authorization even though House Dems and renegade Reps sandbagged it.

    And the FBI’s activities are a diversion for other programs anyway. All one can do is remember a different America.

  6. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Hunter, agree with you. We’re close to a vertically *and* horizontally (with the judiciary) integrated authoritarian mind set.

  7. Hunter says

    “Our adversarial jurisprudential system has not fallen so far that it accepts every government’s mere allegation as fact, yet.”

    It hasn’t? I thought that was only the case when the government’s adversary was especially telegenic (or allied with some other faction of the government…). I guess my cynicism gets away with me sometimes.

  8. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Glenn Greenwald’s skeptical of the Bureau’s latest alleged thwarting of a terrorist plot in Portland at Salon.

    He’s right that the Bureau’s track record warrants some healthy skepticism about its one-sided affidavit and media spash. In his comments section, a reader cited Pat Lang’s support for the Bureau.

    The two positions aren’t incompatible. Lang evaluated the facts of a case he was read into, and determined for himself that the Bureau acted responsibly. His call in that one matter. A trier of fact ultimately should make that determination in every case. Our adversarial jurisprudential system has not fallen so far that it accepts every government’s mere allegation as fact, yet.

  9. Dr Leo Strauss says

    To grasp fully the hilarious ineptitude with the Bureau’s ‘Sentinel’ computerized case file system car wreck ($100 MM over budget, years late and not working), one should remember the Bureau and Contractor are just building on the Bush-era FBI and Other Contractor’s clusterf*ck of computerization, ‘Trilogy’. That monument to inept management and contracting was over half a billion dollars right down the hole and years wasted. Never used. Scrapped.

    Start the comedy trail of tears here:

    Anatomy of an IT disaster: How the FBI blew it
    How not to create create electronic documents

    By Eric Knorr, InfoWorld (US)

    Some U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents ruefully refer to the trilogy project, a massive initiative to modernize the FBI’s aging technology infrastructure, as the “Tragedy” project. It certainly has all the earmarks of tragedy: the best intentions, catastrophic miscommunication, staggering waste.

    Then, here’s Sentinel via Contractor and *your* FBI wunderkind.

    As Bugs would note, these ‘maroons’ can’t pass an open book multiple choice test without cheating at all the way from the Assistant Director In Charge level on down. Now go re-read the CALEA links in this thread.

    The wonder of it all . . .

  10. Comment says

    When Clinton complained about the liberal media (was thinking of WaPo and their inaccurate Susan Schmidt stories in particular) a ways back – this was the kind of thing he was thinking about.
    There is zero doubt that Todd would take GOP accusations of foreign funding of Dems like Gore and/or Clinton more seriously even with less proof. Yet, Todd is a Dem himself.

  11. Comment says

    When Todd frets that Axelrod is Joe McCarthy it is just so pathetic on so many levels – If Chuck Todd time traveled and ran into Joe McCarthy at the Sulgrave club, he would probably receive a kidney punch.

  12. Comment says

    Chuck Todd – symbol of the liberal media self defeat – demands proof that Rove contributions are foreign sourced. This is mush – Politics is not a courtroom and secret contributions are inherently suspicious. But Todd want’s to be on Rove’s rolodex. This should be a slam dunk. Money is fungible.

    • Dr Leo Strauss says

      What’s left of the so-called ‘media class’ know one fundamental truth: there is no penalty for crossing Dems, and the Movement never forgets. For lifestyle maintenance and career viability reasons he has to show ankle.

      At least Todd and that crowd should be pleased MSNBC chose the oddly Rumsfeldian ‘Lean Forward’ as a slogan. It could have been worse: ‘Courage’.

  13. Hunter says

    Oh man, the revived quote machine (which I’m really happy with, btw) just threw up that Heidegger quote about the proper political organization for the technological age… priceless!

  14. Comment says

    1st they cribbed exam answers, then they refused to buy miniaturized bugs, then they placed it under the car, then they went after the Baptists, but I was not a Baptist ..

  15. Comment says

    1st they cribbed exam answers, then they refused to buy miniturized bugs, then they placed it under the car, then they went after the Baptists, but I was not a Baptist ..

  16. Tbilisi says

    @Dr Leo Strauss
    Yep, sounds familiar!

    I didn’t know that about the PATRIOT Act. But sounds right given what I’ve heard about DHS being a dusted-off version of a late-90s proposal from a certain large contractor.

  17. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Yup, a replay of the 1990s for sure. Sat through hours in meetings with Jim Dempsey, Jerry Berman, and the then-white-hot former NSA General Counsel Stuart Baker then at Steptoe & Johnson, industry, etc. The apparatchiks will get their way, again.

    From CALEA to encryption and export controls the apparatchiks largely prevailed, with industry peeling off from the privacy proponents caving. Industry funded CDT and other front groups to make the civil liberties arguments and help give them the patina of caring about the constitution.

    In the end, industry really was mainly concerned that they get *reimbursed* for any switch or software redesign. With CALEA, there was concern about a technologically illiterate FBI in particular (NSA was far ahead anyway) would learn about software and networks and create a out of control wish list to task industry to fulfill their whims. Eventually the FBI technical illiterates got enough access to create the so-called government ‘punchlist’. Industry chose to fight here, mainly as a negotiating ploy to increase their reimbursement monies.

    CDT was only one of many organizations and people involved but very much a source of energy. Jerry Berman is no shrinking violet ego-wise, and Jim is supremely confident that he is, er, confident, but they fought for legal principles. By and large industry (tech software somewhat less but included) used legal principles as a starting point with caving and getting re-imbursed an acceptable outcome.

    Government won encryption even easier.

    People forget that the PATRIOT ACT was actually cobbled together in basic form by the Reno Justice Department. It was a wish list for the careerist national security mediocrities and when 9/11 came along, they spell-checked it, updated it, threw the kitchen sink in, reformatted it all in a nice font, and got Pat Leahy to ram it through like a crazed teenager in heat.

    Tbilisi, we know thanks to the recent DoJ Inspector General’s report that senior FBI management at the Assistant Director level are liars. The IG found the FBI is pervasively filled with lazy, incompetent careerists who have to cheat to take a 50 question, open book, multiple choice test that has no penalty for failure except to retake it. The only requirement was the FBI apparatchik had to certify they took the test themselves without assistance. And they cheated, printed out anwers and passed them around and then tried to lie to the Inspector General’s office about it.

    The Washington Field Office head, Assistant Director Persichini, pushed out early for lying about his cheating on the open book, multiple choice test, and multiple ‘special (perhaps special needs?) agents in charge’ (SACs’) at WFO and in other field offices cheated, were caught lying about it and SACs Andrew Castor and Keith Bryars got their knuckles rapped. Charleston, S.C. was particularly filled with corruption.

    What’s the sad point? The FBI is more concerned here about agents who lie and cheat on an open book multiple choice test with no consequences for failure than, oh, say untrammeled abuse and destruction of the U.S. Constitution. THAT’s their priorities.

    The current Russian FSB (nee Second Main Directorate of the KGB) has a head start on the FBI. But the lazy liars, incompetents and self-serving apparatchiks here are sure giving catching up to the Second Main Directorate the old college try.

    Behold the squalor of the American Nomenklatura ruling the lumpen masses in the name of ‘securing Amerikuh’.

    It’d be funny if it wasn’t utterly pathetic.

  18. RedPhillip says

    I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen. ‘Material Support for Terrorism’ is a massively wide net, and while it has been used up to now against Islamic organizations and individuals, it was only a matter of time before the government used this handy gadget against other opponents of imperial policy. Had this law been in place 30 years ago, I could have been raided, perhaps charged on the basis of my organizing in support of Mandela and the ANC, or for supporting the FSLN in Nicaragua.

    I despise my imperial masters, regardless of which gang colors they front.

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