Friday, May 30, 2008

Understanding Your FBI

By Carol Gee

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is 100 years old this year. To commemorate the occasion the website features the story of the violent death of Bonnie and Clyde, folks who came from my current neck of the woods.

Prowling around the FBI website turned up some interesting finds. First was the page for the National Security Branch. National Security Letters made the news last March. Breaking news yesterday regarded the formation of a Northern Virginia Public Corruption/Government Fraud Task Force. Let's hope that they can give us some genuine protection before the big elections in the fall.

Around the Internet -- The search term "fbi" returned 57,600,000 entries, including - of course - Wikipedia's. I feel sure that the FBI has someone assigned to monitor the Wiki site to assure accuracy, given that they had 28,576 employees in 2004. The FBI seems almost ubiquitous. And we are told that every single one of them is out there to protect us in some way.

Just so you can't say you didn't know -- The 2008 Republican National Convention is September 1-4, in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. -- Depending whether you inside or outside of the fence at the Republican Convention, this news will hit you from opposite psychological directions.

If you are a Democrat you need to know from Discourse.net,* (5/26/08) that the "FBI [is] Recruiting Infiltrators for GOP Convention Protesters." To quote:

This gets complicated. According to - City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul), Moles Wanted, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is recruiting people to infiltrate anti-GOP protest groups in the run-up to the upcoming Republican convention.

The law is clear that police may attend public meetings undercover to see what people are up to. And of course undercover operations in private settings are also legal, although there should be guidelines as to when they are appropriate. And of course it’s good citizenship for private citizens to report crimes when they witness them.

Republicans have been informed,via the Top Ten questions section of the convention website, to quote Number 5, emphasis mine:

How will people who live and work in the Minneapolis – Saint Paul area be affected during the week of the convention? Detailed planning for a major event like this is obviously very important - and I want to assure you that we will have comprehensive transportation and security plans in place. . . Most convention guests will be transported to and from official events using mass transit, mainly in the form of buses, which will minimize the number of vehicles using the roadways during the event.

Security plans formulated after September 11, 2001 did not, in my opinion, include nearly enough protections for civil liberties. And that is where the United States lost its way. This story from (5/27) Dissident Voice* on torture makes it clear that torture was known about and eventually condoned at all levels of government, including the FBI, from early on in the Bush administration. The FBI did speak up or a time, but they were no match for the rest of the group.

*Hat tip to"betmo" for the *items. I always appreciate that she knows so well what I like.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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