Boost FBI's Power — for Now

  Boost FBI's Power — for Now

Posted by FoM on October 12, 2001 at 11:22:11 PT
Editorial Opinion 
Source: USA Today 

With drug use rising across the USA in 1984, Congress was under pressure to tighten law enforcement, much as it is today in the fight against terrorism. Then, as now, the price was weakened civil-liberties protections.But knowledge borne of 2 decades' experience provides a cautionary tale about the fallout that can result when laws tamper with bedrock liberties — and the importance of guarding against such hazards. In 1984, Congress began allowing law enforcement agencies to keep the proceeds from property seized in drug cases. 
Viewed as a harmless way to encourage police agencies to step up enforcement, the law proved a textbook example of justice gone wrong. It mistakenly assumed that any seized property came from illegal activity, a clear perversion of the guilty-until-proved-innocent guarantee on which the nation's legal underpinnings depend.In one case that went to the Supreme Court, a family was fined $5,000 for not reporting cash they were taking out of the country. But Customs agents also confiscated the family's $300,000 life savings without alleging another crime. In another case, a New Jersey sheriff caught a teenager selling marijuana from his mom's car and seized the car. Neither injustice was undone until years later, and only after costly court appeals.Fast forward to 2001 and Congress' current efforts to fight terrorism through a legislative package that increases the FBI's authority. The agency says the proposals give it important powers needed to stave off new terrorist attacks. It includes scores of them, many quite acceptable.For instance, agents would be able to use one court order to tap the cellphones of suspects who move across jurisdictional lines, or to get wiretap orders against terrorist suspects under the same streamlined law used now against foreign spies.What's more, the most threatening parts of the original Bush-administration proposal appear to be dropped. Among them, provisions allowing the unlimited confinement of immigrants and U.S. courts' acceptance of evidence that was illegally obtained by foreign intelligence agents.But the law grants other potentially dangerous new powers to federal law enforcement. For instance, it restricts the authority of judges to oversee police activities, stripping a key bulwark against abusive tactics.Justice Department officials dismiss such fears, saying the vital new powers won't be abused. But if time proves them wrong, rectifying the law could be slow. It took 15 years to fix the assets-seizure law.To protect against a replay of history, the House Judiciary Committee proposes requiring the renewal of controversial provisions in 2 years, so Congress is forced to re-evaluate.Too bad the White House opposes the plan. It's based on the same common-sense logic embraced by Republicans during the Cold War: Trust but verify. More importantly, it sets an incentive for law enforcement: Use the new powers wisely or lose them. Source: USA Today (US) Published: October 12, 2001Copyright: 2001 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.Contact: editor usatoday.comWebsite: Articles:Senate Passes Anti-Terrorism Bill't Oversell an 'Idea War' Takes Terror Case To Senate

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Comment #13 posted by el_toonces on October 13, 2001 at 18:11:47 PT:
Making War Suck More...;.
War sucks in general, I think most Americans believe as we are generally peace loving people.  But it REALLY SUCKS when you can't trust your own government -- the one you are supposed to ready to give your life for -- because they have lied so many times -- hell, still are lying on many health and drug issues.Now I know how an Iraqi soldier who did not want to fight for Sadaam Hussein or against the U.S. coalition must have felt.El
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on October 12, 2001 at 16:50:38 PT

Another Anthrax Scare
Letter Received in Reno May Contain Anthrax

Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal 
Published: Friday, October 12, 2001
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal 

Posted 4:05 p.m. PDT 

CARSON CITY -- A suspicious letter received at a Reno business today may contain anthrax, and the FBI and state agencies are conducting further testing and investigation, Gov. Kenny Guinn said. 

At a 3 p.m. test, the contents of the letter received by the unidentified business had tested "presumptively positive" for anthrax, meaning there is a reasonable belief that the bacteria is present, Guinn said. 

Further testing is under way and will be completed no later than Sunday. 

"As the governor, I'm pleased to report that our state emergency management system in place worked very well," Guinn said. "The employees in this case also followed the recommended emergency procedures. 

"This is a national issue that involves law enforcement at all levels," he said. "The FBI has kept me well informed as these situations have evolved." 

Guinn advised all Nevadans to be vigilant in this time of heightened security. 
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on October 12, 2001 at 15:40:28 PT

greenfox and all
I want to say it must have been Tom Wales that Dr. Russo mentioned that was killed and I got him and the FBI Director mixed up. I hate when I say something that is wrong particulary as strong as what I thought I heard. 
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Comment #10 posted by greenfox on October 12, 2001 at 15:28:43 PT

First Amendment rights suspended
Broad witertap powers? This sounds a little too 1984 for my liking. First and foremost, anyone with a lineman's handset can wiretap. It's important to note that feds have been using this power for years, with or without a warrant. If push comes to shove there is always 'other' evidence that can be used to justify this warrantless invasion of privacy. BUT- now we are PUBLICLY ALLOWING IT. This cannot stand. And besides, who's choice is it when pursuing these terrorists? Who (or what) is defined as BEING a terrorists? Officer Jack Boot, of course. These sort of laws only give police-gods (their lives are treated as more valueable than YOURS) more power over you when they already have WAY TOO DAMN MUCH.(end stoned rant)sly in green, blah blah blah..
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on October 12, 2001 at 14:08:00 PT

freedom fighter 
I just finally heard them say on CNN that there was a shooting at Fort Dix but nothing on the FBI person that was shot. I swear I heard Ashcroft say he was shot and killed but I can't find anything on it at all. I'm questioning myself if I heard it right.
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Comment #8 posted by freedom fighter on October 12, 2001 at 13:58:33 PT

Today, at Parker, Colo
Authorites have closed a postoffice suspecting anthrax package.. Just saw that on my local news..ff
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on October 12, 2001 at 13:25:22 PT

Dr. Russo
I still can't find anything. What an odd day. They reported briefly on MSNBC that two soldiers and two police were shot at Fort Dix and then they shot and killed the shooter. One time it was mentioned and not again. The media is clamping down even the AP and Reuters it's seems.
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Comment #6 posted by Ethan Russo MD on October 12, 2001 at 13:13:48 PT:

Middle-Aged Moment
FoM, I had one, too. Tom Wales was the Head Monitor, not the valedictorian.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on October 12, 2001 at 13:05:16 PT

Forgive Me if I'm Wrong
I can't find any verification of what I just posted and this. There was a shooting at Fort Dix. 

Why did I only hear it one time. They are being so quiet or I'm one brick shy of a load. If I am I'm really sorry.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on October 12, 2001 at 12:52:50 PT

What's going on?
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller was killed too. Am I dreaming all this? It sure seems like a bad dream.
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Comment #3 posted by Ethan Russo MD on October 12, 2001 at 12:40:56 PT:

Dissent is Not Popular
I was shocked to see this news: Wales, a gun control advocate, was himself shot and killed in Seattle. Who did it has not been announced, but one might suspect a person with differing personal views.Tom was a friend, and the valedictorian of my class at Milton Academy in 1970 before going to Harvard. He was a wonderful, warm, compassionate person.This kind of news is enough to make one totally paranoid, and never express public views on controversial topics. Obviously, the solid progress on Drug War Reform that was ongoing before September 11 has been totally derailed by the force of events. The lemmings rush for the sea----.
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Comment #2 posted by kaptinemo on October 12, 2001 at 12:31:20 PT:

One more thing:
Justice Department officials dismiss such fears, saying the vital new powers won't be abused. But if time proves them wrong, rectifying the law could be slow. It took 15 years to fix the assets-seizure law."Fixed", eh? I'm sure that will be cold comfort to the widow of Donald Scott, who was murdered by police 8 years ago, and is even now losing her house...despite the fact that no drugs were ever found on the premises.This is another example of lazy 'journalism' by people with the title but not a clue about professionalism.
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on October 12, 2001 at 12:17:39 PT:

How any ways are there to say "Idiots!"?
The author of this drivel seems to start out on the right foot by pointing out the dangers of granting government power that is almost impossible to revoke.Yet, the author then blindly, pollyanna-ishly thinks that a government 'oversight' committee, made up of the very same legislators who are for these unConstitutional laws, can be entrusted with disposing of them when the time to do so if it ever will.All throughout history, the same mistake is made...with the same results. A formerly free people gives up their rights for the illusion of security - and pay an enormous price in blood for their mistake. A price paid in an attempt to free themselves from the manacles they've allowed to be slapped on their wrists to keep their hands from shaking in fright...just as Walter Lippmann prophesied so long ago.Often, they simply cannot. Not without help. And who would help free us from such a 'terminal error'? After we've pissed off the rest of the world?
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