“FBI headquarters officials sought to cover their informal and possibly illegal acquisition of phone records on thousands of Americans from 2003 to 2005 by issuing 11 improper, retroactive ‘blanket’ administrative subpoenas in 2006 to three phone companies that are under contract to the FBI, according to an audit released Thursday.”
(Via The Wired Blog Network.)
A few observations:
- Any time you relax scrutiny and rely merely on the people themselves to do the right thing, you are asking for trouble. It doesn’t matter that the vast majority of FBI personnel are good, honorable, upstanding, committed, self-sacrficing public servants. Enough of them aren’t to require restraint to prevent considerable damage. Most people in our country are law abiding citizens, that doesn’t negate the need for police.
- Many on the left will lambaste and right will ballyhoo, but when you want security there have to be compromises with “freedom.” The rub is what is the substance of the compromise. In other words, when is it OK to snoop on our citizens? To paraphrase the Vermont license plate slogan, when have we stopped living free and died?
- Last but not least, the silver lining in all this is that the executive branch did it’s job in self-restraint and audit. (Evidence that the public servants deserve the praise I and others give them.) These revelations didn’t come from leaks or whistle blowing, which would have made them utterly frightening. It came from audit lending new meaning to Reagan’s words: “Trust but verify.”