Sunday, August 15, 2010

Obama Tramples Civil Liberties

by Nat Hentoff

Richmond Times-Dispatch
August 14, 2010

Many Americans may not remember, if they ever knew, that toward the end of the Bush administration, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Michael Muka sey so greatly expanded the "Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations" that now, in Barack Obama's presidency, we have essentially returned to the reign of J. Edgar Hoover, who was convinced that a citizen's right to a private life and to his or her own thoughts could be ignored for national security.

The FBI, with no objection from President Obama, can conduct a "threat assessment" -- an investigation -- on any of us without a judicial warrant or any articulable suspicion of criminal activity. During J. Edgar Hoover's time, there was much public protest and reporting on his erasing of our Fourth Amendment's "right of the people to be secure . . . against unreasonable searches and seizures."

Because of my reporting on Hoover's shelving of the Constitution, two FBI agents knocked on my door. Since they did not have a subpoena, I told them they would have to first see my lawyers at the ACLU, at the time a few blocks up the street from where I lived. They left and I never heard from them again, but later found I had an FBI file consisting mainly of newspaper clips of my reporting.