MSNBC: Bush creating ’embryonic police state’

Posted: August 20, 2008 in 2008, Articles
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Raw Story:
“Now that the Democrats were nice enough to fold up on FISA,” MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann said, “the issue is all contained now. Right? Not exactly.”

The Justice Department has proposed changes to police intelligence-gathering rules that would ease the transfer of information about citizens to federal intelligence agencies, who would then keep the information for at least 10 years. The changes, the first since 1993, were introduced for public comment on July 31.

Under the proposed changes, law enforcement agencies would be allowed to target groups and individuals on the basis of suspicion of participation in terrorist acts or providing material support to terrorists. Former FBI agent and American Civil Liberties Union policy counsel Michael German, however, told the Washington Post that the proposed changes could lead to abuse of constitutional rights by law enforcement agencies, citing cases where police have eavesdropped on political dissenters and infiltrated their ranks.

“It turns police officers into spies on behalf of the federal government,” German said. “If police officers no longer see themselves as engaged in protecting their communities from criminals and instead as domestic intelligence agents working on behalf of the CIA, they will be encouraged to collect more information.”

The real intent of the changes, Olbermann opined, is to implement them before President Bush leaves office “so the next president can’t do a damn thing about unraveling this disaster, which is, appropriately enough, an embryonic police state.”

On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee called on Attorney General Michael Mukasey to delay the implementation of the new guidelines, which would take effect October 1, until FBI Director Robert Mueller has a chance to testify to the Committee on September 17. “Efforts to harmonize the rules governing criminal and national security matters also raise potential civil liberties concerns,” said Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) in a letter to Mukasey, “given the broader latitude currently given to investigators to consider race and ethnicity in national security matters.”

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