Saturday, March 10, 2007

Who shall guard the guardians?

The FBI attorney general's report on the misuse of the Patriot Act is big news. Google News shows over 1200 articles on the topic today.

It is not surprising to me that FBI agents would be overzealous in their information-seeking behavior, being nosy is a pre-requisite for becoming a law enforcement agent in my mind.

The broader context, of course, is the collection and sharing of information by all law enforcement agencies and a recent Congressional Research Service report by Richard Best, Jr. dated February 13th, 2007 discusses the role of Congress in encouraging, and reviewing, the information collection and dissemination processes of law enforcement.

A fundamental issue that faces both Congress and the U.S. public remains the need to balance the advantages to be gained by sharing information from all sources with the possibility that the availability of data accumulations could be used to undermine lawful political or religious activities. An unstable balance between these two separate goals... [after 9/11 the]need to encourage the sharing of information and the connection of dots is now unquestioned, but there are lingering concerns about the risks that widespread information sharing may jeopardize civil liberties. Congress will undoubtedly seek to determine whether the new statutes, regulations, and procedures that have been adopted will prove both effective and sensitive to individual rights. |CRS|(emphasis added)

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