Tuesday, January 26, 2010

If We Thought We Needed It...

…we just got more evidence of where the fast track we’re on in this country leads.

The FBI and telecom companies collaborated to routinely violate federal wiretapping laws for four years, as agents got access to reporters’ and citizens’ phone records using fake emergency declarations or simply asking for them.

The Justice Department Inspector General’s internal audit, released Wednesday, harshly criticized how the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Communications Analysis Unit — a counterterrorism section founded after 9/11 — relied on so-called “exigent” letters to get carriers to turn over phone records immediately.


Those letters, first used immediately following 9/11, asked for information by saying that the request was an emergency and that prosecutors were preparing a grand jury subpoena. The letter falsely promised that the subpoena, which gives the telecoms legal immunity, would be delivered later, the report said. < p>[...]

But in a surprise buried at the end of the 289-page report, the inspector general also reveals that the Obama administration issued a secret rule almost two weeks ago saying it was legal for the FBI to have skirted federal privacy protections.


The Obama administration retroactively legalized the entire fiasco through a secret ruling from the Office of Legal Counsel nearly two weeks ago.

That’s the same office from which John Yoo blessed President George W. Bush’s torture techniques and warrantless wiretapping of Americans’ communications that crossed the border.

In the report’s final and heavily censored section, it discloses that the Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion that it was legal for the FBI to obtain Americans’ phone records in the same manner that was harshly criticized by the inspector general’s report.


Basically, it seems Obama attempted to make all the poison fruit based on these illegal searches legal by using the same tactic David Addington would–by having a lawyer at OLC make it okay.

  Empty Wheel

I’d say that huge stadium full of Obama supporters on election night were bamboozled like herded cattle. Not that they had a better option with our election system rigged the way it is.

Read the Wired article. It sheds some light on the situation of AT&T’s involvement, and makes all the more outrageous the fact that Obama reneged on his campaign assurance that the telecom companies would not be granted immunity for their illegal turning over of records to the Feds. In fact, it seems, it was AT&T employees who figured out how to circumvent the law and were collecting the information and greasing the ropes.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

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