WORTH REPEATING: Obama Justice Department Making John Ashcroft Look Like Ben Franklin


NEW YORK TIMES: The Obama administration has long been bumbling along in the footsteps of its predecessor when it comes to sacrificing Americans’ basic rights and liberties under the false flag of fighting terrorism. Now the Obama team seems ready to lurch even farther down that dismal road than George W. Bush did. Instead of tightening the relaxed rules for F.B.I. investigations — not just of terrorism suspects but of pretty much anyone — that were put in place in the Bush years, President Obama’s Justice Department is getting ready to push the proper bounds of privacy even further. Attorney General John Ashcroft began weakening rights protections after 9/11. Three years ago, his successor, Michael Mukasey, issued rules changes that permit agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to use highly intrusive methods — including lengthy physical surveillance and covert infiltration of lawful groups — even when there is no firm basis for suspecting any wrongdoing. The Mukasey guidelines let the bureau go after people identified in part by race or religion, which only raises the danger of government spying on law-abiding Americans based on their political activity or ethnic background. Incredibly, the Obama administration thinks Mr. Mukasey did not go far enough. Charlie Savage reported in The Times last week that the F.B.I plans to issue a new edition of its operational manual that will give agents significant new powers to search law enforcement and private databases, go through household trash or deploy surveillance teams, with even fewer checks against abuse. MORE

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