FBI Lawless Unaccountability
By Stephen Lendman
NSA and CIA aren't America's only rogue agencies. The FBI's been around since 1908. From 1924 - 1972, J. Edgar Hoover ran it.
He did so extrajudicially. He did repressively. He waged war on freedom. He defended capital's divine right. He trashed democratic values.
He targeted alleged communists, anti-war, human and civil rights activists, political dissidents, the American Indian Movement, and Black Panther Party among other groups and individuals.
He did it no-holds-barred. So did his successors. Harassment, intimidation, false accusations, disinformation, and political assassinations are common agency practice.
Previous articles discussed what goes on. Rule of law principles don't matter. FBI powers are sweeping. They're used extrajudicially. They're unaccountable.
Anyone can be targeted for any reason or none at all. No probable cause, reasonable grounds, or suspicions are needed.
Constitutional rights don't matter. Exercising free expression makes law-abiding Americans vulnerable.
Alleged terror plots are FBI hatched. Innocent victims are lawlessly entrapped. Whistleblowers are ruthlessly targeted. Rogue agencies operate this way.
According to the ACLU, "(t)oday's FBI doesn't just search for evidence to catch criminals, terrorist and spies. Working with other government agencies and private companies, it helps gather information about millions of law abiding Americans."
It does it by "tracking our communications and associations." It operates extrajudicially. It does so secretly. It does whatever it wants unaccountably. It does it with executive branch authorization.
A previous article discussed an ACLU fact sheet. It headlined "The Ten Most Disturbing Things You Should Know About the FBI Since 9/11."
It explained Patriot Act abuses, racial, ethnic and religious bias, unrestrained metadata-mining, targeting dissent and independent journalists, stonewalling congressional oversight, and other unconstitutional practices.
Like NSA, CIA and other rogue US agencies, the FBI's a power unto itself. A new ACLU report explains more. It's titled "Unleashed and Unaccountable: The FBI's Unchecked Abuse of Authority." More on that below.
On September 4, James Comey became the FBI's seventh director. He replaced Robert Mueller. A previous article discussed him. It raised serious concerns.
It said police state America's in good hands with him in charge. He'll continue Mueller's worst practices. He'll do it with technological ease.
His past record gives civil libertarians cause for concern. He, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and DOJ Office of Legal Council head Jack Goldsmith authorized lawless practices. In 2004, they approved warrantless spying.
Comey was involved in Bush's torture program and extraordinary renditions. He wrote legal opinions justifying them. He'll partner with CIA head John Brennan. He's Obama's maestro of murder.
With Brennan and Comey running rogue agencies, expect civil liberties to erode further on their watch. They're mandated to destroy them.
The ACLU said Comey assumes FBI control after it's been "radically transformed" during Mueller's 12 year tenure.
He usurped "unprecedented" intelligence gathering and law enforcement powers. He expanded FBI operations globally. He did so extrajudicially.
"Extraordinary" abuses occurred on his watch. On the false pretext of post-9/11 national security priorities, he ruthlessly targeted Muslims, other racial and religious minorities, immigrants, civil libertarians, anti-war protesters, whistleblowers, and Occupy Wall Street activists among others.
He "subverted internal and external oversight," said ACLU. He operated secretly. He violated core rule of law principles. He stonewalled Congress. He waged war on freedom.
ACLU's new report says "throughout its history, the FBI regularly overstepped the law." Doing so "infring(es) on Americans' constitutional rights while overzealously pursuing its domestic security mission."
Post-9/11, policy became anything goes. Today, constitutional freedoms more than ever are threatened. The FBI "collect(s), store(s), and analyze(s) data about millions of innocent Americans." Excessive secrecy cloaks its operations.
"Courts (are) reticent to challenge government secrecy demands and, despite years of debate in Congress regarding the proper scope of domestic surveillance, it took unauthorized leaks by a whistleblower to finally reveal the government's secret interpretations of these laws and the Orwellian scope of its domestic surveillance program."
Clear evidence shows abusive FBI practices. They don't prevent alleged terrorism. The ACLU says vital reforms are needed.
Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey supported lawless police state practices. He endorsed unchecked executive branch power.
He asked Congress to redefine habeas rights. He deplored due process and other judicial rights. He wanted carte blanche authority to wage war on terror. He supported lawlessly spying on Americans.
He re-wrote the FBI's rulebook. He gave its agents unfettered authority to investigate without probable cause. He created new intrusive procedures to do so. He called it "assessment." It requires no "factual predicate."
It gives FBI agents sweeping unchecked powers. They take full advantage. They operate extrajudicially. They do so abusively. According to ACLU:
They search "government or commercial databases, conduct overt or covert FBI interviews, and task informants to gather information about people or infiltrate lawful organizations."
Thousands of innocent victims are targeted. It's standard FBI practice. It's worse than ever today. It suggests greater toughness coming.
From 2009 - 2011, the FBI opened over 82,000 "assessments." A small fraction warranted further investigation. A minuscule percent discovered wrongdoing.
No terror plots were uncovered. Alleged ones were fake. The FBI employs thousands of undercover agents.
They entrap innocent victims. They're well paid for doing so. They earn around $100,000 per assignment. Muslims are the FBI's target of choice. They're war on terror scapegoats.
They're vilified, dehumanized, spied on, set up as patsies, hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted in their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence, convicted on bogus charges, given long sentences, and treated harshly as political prisoners.
A government/media manipulated climate of fear facilitates lawless practices. Rogue federal agencies take full advantage.
By 2012, FBI metadata-mining collected around six billion records. Doing so equals 20 separate ones for every American, said ACLU.
Practices skirt internal and external oversight. The FBI is exempted from the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act. It protects government employees who report misconduct.
Federal agencies are prohibited from retaliating against those who do so.
Whistleblowers may report law or regulatory violations, gross mismanagement, waste, fraud and/or abuse, or acts endangering public health or safety.
FBI officials suppress internal dissent. They retaliate against anyone reporting lawless agency practices. They aggressively target other whistleblowers.
Doing so led to an unprecedented number of Espionage Act prosecutions under Obama.
In 2011, the ACLU exposed flawed/biased FBI training materials. They're used to teach lawless investigatory practices.
The FBI was established to operate domestically. Increasingly it does so overseas. Doing so makes its activities harder to monitor.
"(T)roubling cases indicate the FBI may have requested, facilitated, and/or exploited the arrests of US citizens by foreign governments, often without charges, so they could be held and interrogated, sometimes tortured, and then interviewed by FBI agents," said ACLU.
Other Americans are lawlessly barred from flying. Under Obama, the number affected doubled.
"There is no fair procedure for those mistakenly placed on the list to challenge their inclusion," said ACLU. Many affected are subjected to repressive FBI interrogations.
"The ACLU is suing the government on behalf of 10 American citizens and permanent residents who were prevented from flying to the US, arguing that barring them from flying without due process is unconstitutional," it said.
Abusive FBI practices are unconstitutional. Congress has legislative power to end them.
Administration officials permit out-of-control lawlessness. Full-blown tyranny is a hair's breadth away. It's happening in plain sight. It's because nothing is done to stop it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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