Dear Friend, When I joined the FBI in 1988, I swore to support, uphold and defend the Constitution. But I left when I started to question whether my government was fulfilling that oath. Like many of you, I joined the ACLU to fight the very kind of abuses the Department of Justice's own Inspector General outlined in a report released Friday.
As you may have seen, the Inspector General documented rampant FBI misuse and abuse of its expanded Patriot Act powers confirming much of what we have been saying: The FBI has stretched and even broken the law. To fix this, we need to demand that Congress reform the Patriot Act. The report indicates the FBI misused and abused National Security Letters, which give agents sweeping powers to demand sensitive personal records with no court review. This proves that without checks and balances, the temptation to abuse power is overwhelming - particularly when you're getting pressure from your superiors.
President Bush wants the American people to believe Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the FBI are part of the solution. They are part of the problem. Congress needs to act now to restore our rights and bring these abuses to an end. As a former FBI Special Agent and now an ACLU Policy Counsel, I can tell you this: National Security Letters do nothing to protect us from terrorism, but have very serious consequences for civil liberties. They allow the FBI to launch sweeping fishing expeditions into people's private records - even with no facts connecting the records requested to a suspected terrorist, and no oversight by any court.
Making matters worse, more than half of these are being issued against Americans. The FBI can even gag recipients of these letters from making the request public. When you let those who enforce the law rubberstamp their own search warrants, you're asking for serious problems. Ask your Members of Congress to Reform the Patriot Act.
You can help restore our democracy by taking action today. It's up to us. Sincerely, Mike German Policy Counsel American Civil Liberties Union P.S. Congress is planning three hearings in the coming weeks to investigate these abuses of the Patriot Act. Now is the time for lawmakers to hear from all of us that we want them to take action to restore our fundamental rights. Take action now. You can read more about the report here.