Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Means "Who Polices the Police?"

From the Washington Post via the Houston Chronicle:

FBI may have violated law 3,000 times with data effort

The Justice Department's inspector general told a committee of angry House lawmakers Tuesday that the FBI may have violated the law or government policies as many as 3,000 times since 2003 as agents secretly collected the telephone, bank and credit card records of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals residing here.

Inspector General Glenn Fine said that according to the FBI's own calculations, as many as 600 of these violations could be "cases of serious misconduct" involving the improper use of "national security letters" to compel telephone companies, banks and credit institutions to produce records.

National security letters are comparable to subpoenas, but are issued directly by the bureau without court review.

Click here for the rest.

Of course, I posted on this last week, and don't really have much more to add, besides yet another "told ya so," except this: even I am a bit surprised by such a big number of violations. I mean, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, for the reasons I mentioned last week, but I guess I still have something of an "it can't happen here" mentality about all this. I know I've been going on here for years now about the dangers of encroaching totalitarianism in the US, but I still find that, despite my usual outrage, I just can't get my arms around my country falling into despotism. I just can't really accept that it's definitely possible, especially right now, while the White House pushes a showdown with Congress over subpeonas in the federal prosecutor firings investigation, as Rascally Rob Salkowitz explains in his latest post over at Emphasis Added.

I guess I'm like most Americans in that respect: I just won't really believe it until the stormtroopers are kicking my door down in the middle of the night. Good thing I'm able to make a distinction between beliefs and facts, which admittedly won't stop the stormtroopers, but knowledge is power. Kind of.

Speaking of stormtroopers, from the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Video captures Chicago officer beating female bartender

An off-duty police officer in street clothes was caught on video by a bar surveillance camera beating up a female bartender half his size, authorities said.

Anthony Abbate, a 12-year veteran of the Chicago force, was charged with aggravated battery and placed on leave pending an internal investigation in the attack Feb. 19 as several bystanders watched, department spokeswoman Monique Bond said today. She said Abbate is expected to be fired.

The video from Jessie's Short Stop Inn Tavern, shown on television around the nation, shows the 250-pound Abbate shouting at the 115-pound bartender, then walking behind the bar and punching, kicking and throwing her to the ground.

Click here for the rest.

So this falls into the general category of drunk-cop-on-the-rampage. Happens all the time, and, by itself, it's bad enough, but you can bet your butt that if it ever does "happen here," if the US goes fascist, this kind of behavior among cops, already waaaay out of control, will increase astronomically. Cops are deeply immersed in a black and white, hypermasculine, "we're always right because we're the good guys" culture. Just imagine what they'll be like without civil rights. That's right, there'd be very little difference between cops and Hitler's Brownshirts.

Yeah, yeah, it's unbelievable to me, too. But the potential really is there.