The FBI tried too hard to defend America, and Congress isn’t having any of that:
Republicans and Democrats sternly warned the FBI on Tuesday that it could lose its broad power to collect telephone, e-mail and financial records to hunt terrorists after revelations of widespread abuses of the authority detailed in a recent internal investigation.
Their threats came as the Justice Department’s chief watchdog, Glenn A. Fine, told the House Judiciary Committee that the FBI engaged in widespread and serious misuse of its authority in illegally collecting the information from Americans and foreigners through so-called national security letters.
If the FBI doesn’t move swiftly to correct the mistakes and problems revealed last week in Fine’s 130-page report, "you probably won’t have NSL authority," said Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., a supporter of the power, referring to the data requests by their initials.
"From the attorney general on down, you should be ashamed of yourself," said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. "We stretched to try to give you the tools necessary to make America safe, and it is very, very clear that you’ve abused that trust."
If Congress revokes some of the expansive law enforcement powers it granted in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Issa said, "America may be less safe, but the Constitution will be more secure, and it will be because of your failure to deal with this in a serious fashion."
The phrase cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face comes to mind. I can’t wait to see Mr. Issa run on the platform of "Making America Less Safe Through Privacy." Remember, we’re hunting jihadist savages here, not car thieves.
Keep in mind as well that none of these "abuses" involved anything criminal like spying on administration enemies or agents’ ex-girlfriends. This is an administrative and training problem in need of an adinistrative and training solution, not political hyperbole.