Overnight, news emerged that for years, the FBI grabbed Americans’ private telephone records without any search warrants, and justifying the seizures of these records by claiming that there were emergency terrorist threats that in fact never existed. Thousands of times, the FBI completely invented stories of terrorist plots to attack the United States so that it could spy on Americans.
What’s more, Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI, has known about the bureau’s creation of hoaxed terrorism stories for three years. During that time, Mueller did nothing to inform the public of the FBI’s illegal activities and abuses of government spying powers.
Even now that the lies about non-existent terrorist threats have been exposed, representatives of the FBI are attempting to minimize the scandal. They’re saying that, although the thousands of instances of fraud were against the law, that’s just a technicality. The FBI is now saying that it has the right to look at records of Americans’ private communications whenever it wants, without offering any justification for the searches and seizures at all.
That’s not what the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says. That amendment reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Can there be any doubt that when the federal government concocts false stories of enemy plots in order to look through thousands of records of private communications, these activities count as “unreasonable searches and seizures”?
The FBI has engaged in a prolonged and serious attack against the Fourth Amendment rights of people right here in the United States. If the Constitution counts for anything anymore, there must be consequences for the FBI and for the regime of Homeland Security in general.
There are now calls for the resignation of Robert Mueller. Individual accountability for these abuses is not enough, however. In order to ensure that the illegal spying has stopped, Congress needs to conduct a vigorous and public investigation into government surveillance. The following are the chairs of congressional committees who have the power to begin such an investigation. If you don’t want the FBI tracking your private conversations without a search warrant, call these members of Congress and tell them that you want to see hearings to reveal the whole truth about government espionage against the American people.
John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee
Ed Towns, Chair of the House Oversight Committee
Jerrold Nadler, Chair of the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
Patrick Leahy, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Dick Durbin, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law
Russ Feingold, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution
Benjamin Cardin, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security
To reach their offices, call the capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.