Which is to say, according to a WaPo story this weekend since the PATRIOT Act passed, the FBI has issued something like 100 times more national security letters--in the neighborhood of 30,000 a year:
The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters - one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people - are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans.I hate to be jaded about this, but all I can think of is "I'm shocked! Shocked! that there is gambling going on..."
Issued by FBI field supervisors, national security letters do not need the imprimatur of a prosecutor, grand jury or judge. They receive no review after the fact by the Justice Department or Congress. The executive branch maintains only statistics, which are incomplete and confined to classified reports. The Bush administration defeated legislation and a lawsuit to require a public accounting, and has offered no example in which the use of a national security letter helped disrupt a terrorist plot.
AP covers the story and includes the sort of quote that makes my head explode:
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said Sunday that he could not immediately confirm or dispute the 30,000 figure, but he said the power to use the security letters was justified.Um, right, well the whole point of the fucking PATRIOT Act, Einstein, is to change what constitutes a civil rights violation. Good god the whole thing is so Kafka-esque it's almost enough to make me lose my sense of humor.
"The Department of Justice inspector general in August 2005 found no civil rights violations with respect to the Patriot Act," he said.
But not quite!
After you read the Post article and need some cheering up, check out the Fox News parody. It's a slow moving target, I know, but we take our laughs where we can get them here at NMTE.