Saturday, December 03, 2005

Reason #54 against the USA PATRIOT Act.

(Subtitled: What is Old is New Again)

An article appearing in tomorrow’s New York Times reinforces the faith we should have in the FBI follow rigid guidelines in the pursuit of anti-terrorism under the provisions of the PATRIOT Act.

Report Finds Cover-Up in an F.B.I. Terror Case (via NYT)
Officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation mishandled a Florida terror investigation, falsified documents in the case in an effort to cover repeated missteps and retaliated against an agent who first complained about the problems, Justice Department investigators have concluded.

So, why should this raise concerns about the PATRIOT Act?
In one instance, someone altered dates on three F.B.I. forms using correction fluid to conceal an apparent violation of federal wiretap law, according to a draft report of an investigation by the Justice Department inspector general's office obtained by The New York Times. But investigators were unable to determine who altered the documents.

Of course this also has repercussions for the protection of whistleblowers:
The agent who first alerted the F.B.I. to problems in the case, a veteran undercover operative named Mike German, was "retaliated against" by his boss, who was angered by the agent's complaints and stopped using him for prestigious assignments in training new undercover agents, the draft report concluded.

Mr. German's case first became public last year, as he emerged as the latest in a string of whistle-blowers at the bureau who said they had been punished and effectively silenced for voicing concerns about the handling of terror investigations and other matters since Sept. 11, 2001.

And the response for protection of whistleblowers:
Robert S. Mueller III, director of the F.B.I., has emphasized repeatedly, both publicly and in private messages to his staff, that employees are encouraged to come forward with reports of wrongdoing and that he will not tolerate retaliation against whistle-blowers.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican who has been a frequent critic of the bureau, said of Mr. German: "Unfortunately, this is just another case in a long line of F.B.I. whistle-blowers who have had their careers derailed because the F.B.I. couldn't tolerate criticism."

Michael Kortan, an F.B.I. spokesman, said the bureau had not been briefed on the findings. But Mr. Kortan said that when the F.B.I. received the report, "if either misconduct or other wrongdoing is found, we will take appropriate action."

Ann Beeson, associate legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that the inspector general's findings, coming just days after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from an earlier F.B.I. whistle-blower, pointed to the need for tougher measures to protect those who report abuse. "With courts reluctant to protect whistle-blowers, it is crucial that Congress pass additional protections," Ms. Beeson said.


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