Saturday, April 6, 2013

Robert Mueller and the FBI

     Robert Mueller was sworn in as FBI Director one week before the 9/11 attacks.   He oversaw a huge expansion of the FBI as it geared up to investigate terrorism and keep America safe.  His ten-year term ended in 2011, but Obama asked him to serve again, therefore he is the first FBI director since Hoover to stay past the limits of his office.
     Unlike other cabinet offices, which can last a lifetime, Congress imposed a ten-year limit on the post of FBI director in 1976 "following the Church Committee investigation of J. Edgar Hoover's forty-eight-year reign, which revealed shocking abuses of power:  illegal wiretaps, the infiltration of antiwar and civil rights groups, spying on members of Congress, a smear campaign against Martin Luther King Jr. and several other serious transgressions" (The Nation, June 14, 2011).
     In the same article ("Robert Mueller's Questionable Extension as FBI Director") author George Zornick mentions a Washington Post article, which reported that FBI agents obtained twenty-three subpoenas and raided seven homes in the Midwest as part of its ongoing investigation of terrorism.  The residents who were raided had one thing in common:  "they were all either involved in the peace movement or politically active labor organizers."
     Another quote, this time taken from the New York Times:  "FBI agents have been given significantly more leeway to 'search databases, go through household trash, or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.'"
     While in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2011, Mueller was questioned by Senator Al Francken, who said that "your department has been heavily criticized over the last ten years for significant misuses of the department's surveillance powers and for other civil liberties violations."
     By 2007, Inspector General Fine said the FBI had violated the law 3,000 times in the prior four years by collecting data on United States citizens that in many cases were considered serious misconduct "involving national security letters."
     When Francken asked Mueller if he would give this problem "a fresh look," Mueller said he didn't think a fresh look was necessary, because he considered allegations made against Americans a serious matter.  Not because they might be misplaced, but because he believed they must have veracity.
     Mueller is the man setting the tone (and the expense account) for the FBI.  He's got an enormous budget, and he has to spend it or he might lose it.  He stated that he believed his agency acts with "appropriate predication."  I'd like to know what predication he can show for the raid on my clinic, and whether evidence truly "predicated" the raid, or is being manufactured, in desperation, in these two years post-raid.  And if it can't be manufactured, maybe it can be imagined into being from non-facts or manipulated witnesses.  These are strong suggestions on my part, but what happened to me at the careless hands of the FBI is no less than an annihilation of my professional standing, my market value, and my business.  Strong suggestions are my only defense, given that I know of nothing--nothing at all--that could justify the FBI's actions against me, my staff, my patients, and my business.
     In 2011, there was no check on on the office of the FBI director, and no one doubting, except for Francken's,  that FBI transgressions against Americans are business as usual.  That's why thousands of businesses are being raided, using SWAT teams (intended, originally, for raids on highly dangerous, terrorist or organized crime groups, but now part of the landscape of "raids" to obtain paperwork from benign groups, or computer files from ordinary, baffled homeowners.
     Mueller's extension was for two years, so a new appointment should be made this September.  But I'll wager Mueller will remain at the post, like Hoover, allowing the FBI to get bolder and more rabid while the rest of us look on.
     When so many people get raided and entrapped by FBI agents (looking for something to do?) that everyone knows someone who's been a "target" (for all I know, I'm under investigation for terrorism--it's true, I would vote for peace any day, and could be considered "in the peace movement," like those midwesterners), when people start suspecting one another, because the government has released the odor of implied guilt all over the place, then maybe we'll tell our representatives to vote against FBI directors who see nothing wrong with FBI overreach and misconduct, SWAT raids and allegations a dime a dozen.
     Maybe then we'll do something about the astounding power of the executive and judicial branches in this country.   Power you don't understand, until you've been stared down by a SWAT team.
     Sorry, buying a few more guns won't cut it, not now, and not if things get worse.

(Read Mueller's testimony, given when his tenure was extended, and warning about the ongoing threat of terrorism both at home and abroad, at

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