THE FBI AND ADMINISTRATIVE SUBPOENAS
June 9, 2005
You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to know that our Constitutional rights are once more in jeopardy. A recent Senate Intelligence Committee report concluded that the FBI needs expanded powers to gather information. The "administrative subpoena," as they propose it, would allow FBI investigators to ask for (and get) most written or electronic records from non-private sources that relate to anyone, for virtually any reason.
You can read the actual text of the committee report here:
You can read an informative article on the issue here:
This recommendation is being put forward by the Government's senior elected officials as part of a larger effort to overhaul the Patriot Act. Done with the best of intentions firmly in mind, the end result will clearly further the centralization of Federal power. It's part of a larger trend in National Government that I wrote about in The Fisk Conspiracy. If left unchecked, all agencies in all branches at the Federal level will continue to enhance their authorities at the expense of our Constitution.
An "administrative subpoena" would allow any Federal bureaucrat with the power to issue such an order to tap in to any records kept by anyone who provides a services for you. Your bank. Your credit card company. Your Doctor. Your local Library. All would be required to comply without telling you. As written, the current version of this subpoena would be applicable only in court cases. Specifically, Federal Grand Jury investigations. Once in effect, this 'law' could be changed by elected officials or senior civil servants. They could do it when-ever and how-ever the pleased.
The Right to Privacy has always been an impediment to Government. Dictators and despots have always been quick to do away with this most basic of civil rights. Even now, the thinking in Washington is that "we" can't be properly protected unless "they" can have timely access to any shred of information that might quickly bring down our enemies. It's a small but important shift in thinking. When "We the People" become "The State," it does make 'protecting' us much easier.
The temptation to centralize Government authority has been with us from the beginning. The Founders wrestled with this question with the same energy and urgency that we do today. Let's not forget that the KGB had its own form of "administrative subpoena." In modern Russia, the SVR operates with similar bureaucratic efficiency. When a citizen has no real privacy, they have no real freedom. The power of this Administrative Subpoena, even if used just for Grand Jury investigations, is simply too great. If we tempt them with it, our politicians will use it...on us.
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