Marcy Wheeler writes: The director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, made it clear Thursday that he believes the FBI should have access to any of your data not covered by the fourth amendment of the US constitution. Yet he seemed unwilling to turn over the FBI’s own metadata in return.
At issue is at least one of the NSA programs disclosed by the Guardian last week: the government’s use of a provision of the Patriot Act to collect the call data of most Americans’ phone calls to create a master database of all calls made in the US for the last five years. According to Senate intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein and others, the government uses the database to check whether Americans have called numbers associated with suspected terrorists.
In a hearing before the House judiciary committee, a number of representatives – including John Conyers, Jim Sensenbrenner, Jerry Nadler, Bobby Scott, Sheila Jackson-Lee, and Jason Chaffetz – asked the director to justify obtaining data on all Americans. Sensenbrenner pointed out, for example, that the FBI could use a grand jury subpoena or a “national security letter” to obtain the same information directly from a phone company.
And while Mueller did claim that the dragnet program would have prevented 9/11 (ignoring that the FBI had authority to get the information in question at the time, and that a number of other bureaucratic failures may have contributed to the intelligence community’s failure to prevent the attack, too), his favorite justification for gathering all the metadata from all US phone calls amounts to “because we can”. [Continue reading…]