IN OTHER WORDS
There is apparently no limit to the Bush administration’s desire to invade Americans’ privacy in the name of national security. According to members of Congress, Attorney
General Michael Mukasey is preparing to give the FBI broad new authority to investigate Americans — without any clear basis for suspicion that they are committing a crime.
Opening the door to sweeping investigations of this kind would be an invitation to the government to spy on people based on their race, religion or political activities. Before Mukasey goes any further, Congress should insist that the guidelines be fully vetted, and it should make certain that they do not pose a further threat to Americans’ civil liberties.
The FBI has a long history of abusing its authority to spy on domestic groups, including civil rights and anti-war activists. Clearly, the Bush administration cannot be trusted to get the balance between law enforcement and civil liberties right. It has repeatedly engaged in improper and illegal domestic spying — notably in the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping programme. The FBI and the White House no doubt want to push the changes through before a new president is elected. There is no reason to rush to adopt rules that have such important civil liberties implications. — The New York Times