This morning, we wondered if any member of Congress would act to investigate newly-revealed criminal spying by the FBI against the American people. The FBI, it turns out, routinely invented pretend emergency terrorist threats in order to justify its seizure of thousands of records of private telephone conversations held right here in the United States.
It turns out that many of those telephone records taken by the FBI involved American journalists. So, the FBI’s program wasn’t just a violation of the Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable search and seizure, but the First Amendment guarantee of Freedom of the Press. The FBI was engaging in the some of the same kind of surveillance and harassment of journalists that goes on in countries like Iran and China.
This morning, we identified 7 chairs of congressional committees that could claim the power to conduct oversight of the FBI’s spying programs. Our hope was that these powerful politicians would step forward and announce a series of strong hearings and investigations of the FBI’s practice of creating stories of fake terrorist conspiracies.
As of this evening, only one of those chairs has made any such declaration. Jerrold Nadler, chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties in the House Judiciary Committee, has announced that his subcommittee will hold hearings into the illegal FBI spy abuses.
Nadler also made a statement about the revelations of hoax terrorist plots concocted within the Department of Justice. He began:
“â€œI am appalled but not particularly surprised to read reports that the FBI illegally collected phone records for years on thousands of Americans. This unconstitutional disregard for civil liberties is unfortunately in line with the culture of abuse of power which thrived under the Bush administration. Between 2001 and 2008, many of the checks that were in place to prevent overreach by the executive branch were systematically dismantled, always in the name of fighting terrorism. Todayâ€™s news on the FBIâ€™s illegal actions only serves to underscore the urgency for NSL and PATRIOT Act reforms.”