The Justice Department is considering letting the FBI investigate Americans without any evidence of wrongdoing, ABC reports.
Currently, or on the books, at least- something called evidence (go figure!) is needed to open an investigation of suspected terrorist activity.
Intensive investigation – wiretapping, bank record tracking – wouldn’t be permitted until an official investigation is opened. However, traits considered “suspect” – race, ethnicity, jobs related to religion, travel to “terrorist” countries – would all be considered legitimate reasons to conduct open-ended questioning of and about a person.
Now, the proposed regulations would include some things that make sense: for example, I have no objection to those who have atypical access to weaponry and who have obtained training in combat being investigated. That would presumably include all kinds of people – including domestic, white supremacist militias, right? But legitimizing the investigation of a particular racial or ethnic group without evidence or reason?
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse assures us that the changes wouldn’t give the FBI more authority than it now has. He says: “Any review and change to the guidelines will reflect our traditional concerns for civil liberties and First Amendment liberties.”
This statement is nothing short of an insult to the intelligence of regular people everywhere.
First of all, how this doesn’t give the FBI more authority than it already has, I’m not sure. It’s quite clear that things that were not permissible before will now become permissible. Therefore, greater authority would absolutely be granted. If that were not the case, why would these proceedings be happening at all?
The fundamentally American idea that we are “innocent until proven guilty” flies out the window with this one. Absolutely no suspicion of actual wrongdoing would be necessary to open questioning on an individual. While the United States regularly criticizes other governments for unfairly targeting groups of people – this very tactic would be employed to ‘protect our democracy’. It seems that our government lacks the awareness to see the flagrantly hypocritical nature of its own practices.
Yes, I recognize that in many places in the world I’d be jailed – even killed – for writing this very blog entry. I owe the United States an enormous debt of gratitude for the liberties I enjoy. So, to mark America’s birthday this weekend, I’m exercising the very liberty that makes us a great democracy: dissent.
Dissent is what won the United States its freedom. May it also be what leads Americans to tell our government that we will not stand for paranoid, racist regulations like the ones being proposed now. Demanding that every American be seen as equal – regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or national extraction – is the most American thing we can do.