New York Times: NYT HomePage

NYT: F.B.I. Given Broad Authority to Monitor the Public.

The new guidelines give FBI agents more freedom to investigate terrorism even when they are not pursuing a particular case.

Mueller said the changes “will be exceptionally helpful to us.”

“Our reforms of the FBI will and must strengthen our ability to prevent future terrorist attacks,” the FBI director said.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the lifting of restrictions could renew abuses of the past. King’s “persecution by law enforcement is a necessary reminder of the potential abuse when a government with too long a leash seeks to silence voices of dissent,” said ACLU legislative counsel Marvin Johnson.

While this may not seem like a big deal, it’s just this type of erosion of civil liberties that I was referring to here. exactly what are the ramifications of these changes? What type of information is the FBI now allowed to track and file? Who has access, and what justification must be provided? How do these changes apply to the rules of evidence in criminal trials?

In other words, what did we just lose? What freedoms are we trading in exchange for feeling more secure? Or even more importantly, what powers have just been given to our government, in order for the Bush administration to gain a small measure of poiltical security? After all, that’s what’s really happening here, isn’t it?