A few months ago we started hearing rumors about FBI guidelines that would allow the Bureau a much wider parameter to investigate (READ: SPY ON) Americans. Well, not so much rumors as a piece by AP reporter Lara Jakes Jordan.
We've been anticipating these guidelines since the story broke but they haven't yet surfaced. Well, it looks like the Bureau has been doing some door knocking on the Hill as of late because we got some riled up Senators. I didn't know you could rile up Senators in August but I'm glad to hear it. My husband, Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), is leading the charge along with Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) (bless his heart) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
Let's look at the big picture for a minute. These guidelines seem to be, given the accounts we've read about, a horrible idea. BUT. Put them together with this and you've got yourself the workings of a new domestic spying agency. Didn't someone see this coming? Oh yes, that's right. We did. (Deeper analysis here.)
Handing greater latitude to an agency that has proven that it can't police itself with even the most stringent guidelines is a mistake. Combine the lack of an outside check with what look to be incredibly vague guidelines for suspicion and you're looking at a constitutional disaster in the making.
Anyway, it looks like the Attorney General has flinched and will hold off on the new guidelines for now, waiting to hear congressional testimony from FBI Director Robert Mueller next month. Maybe while he's visiting, Mueller can shed a little more light on why the FBI felt the need to violate previous guidelines (and, um, the law) to spy on reporters?