Invasion of Privacy - Who Will Monitor the Monitors ?
Barton Gellman's report in the Washington Post, "The FBI's Secret Scrutiny" exposes the dark side of the Patriot Act. Mr. Gellman specifically covered one disturbing element of the act--National Security Letter--which is fraught with potential for abuse. Excerpts:
- "The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters -- one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people -- are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans."
- "Issued by FBI field supervisors, national security letters do not need the imprimatur of a prosecutor, grand jury or judge. They receive no review after the fact by the Justice Department or Congress. The executive branch maintains only statistics, which are incomplete and confined to classified reports. The Bush administration defeated legislation and a lawsuit to require a public accounting, and has offered no example in which the use of a national security letter helped disrupt a terrorist plot."
Shades of McCarthy era ? Yes. Incidentally, the film "Good Night and Good Luck
" (currently in local theatres) about the late Edward Murrow
of CBS and his brave battle against Senator Joseph McCarthy of the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee ought to be viewed by all who are interested in the abuses that took place under HUAC
. Directed by George Clooney (he also acted in the role of Fred Friendly), David Strathairn is superb as Edward Murrow.
President left Mar del Plata with empty hands
No deal on Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). According to the BBC, the president said: "It's not easy to host all these countries. It's particularly not easy to host - perhaps - me." He said that as a joke but put his finger on the reason for the participants' failure to reach accord. He is not widely believed in Latin America, he is not liked in Latin America. Who can blame them. Based on records, how many Americans would buy an used car from him ?See Dan Molinski's report in the Washington Post.*Britain's former ambassador to the U.S. speaks out* November 5th issue of The Guardian,UK, contains an interview with Sir Christopher Meyer who served as Britain's ambassador to the United States from 1997 to 2003. Sir Christopher is more critical of Tony Blair than of George Bush about their roles in the war against Iraq
. " He takes issue with the prime minister's claim that the war has not exposed Britain to terrorist attacks: "There is plenty of evidence around at the moment that home-grown terrorism was partly radicalised and fuelled by what is going on in Iraq. There is no way we can credibly get up and say it has nothing to do with it. Don't tell me that being in Iraq has got nothing to do with it. Of course it does."