The Pentagon has been using a little-known power to obtain banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage inside the United States, part of an aggressive expansion by the military into domestic intelligence gathering.
The C.I.A. has also been issuing what are known as national security letters to gain access to financial records from American companies, though it has done so only rarely, intelligence officials say.
Banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions receiving the letters usually have turned over documents voluntarily, allowing investigators to examine the financial assets and transactions of American military personnel and civilians, officials say.
But it was not previously known, even to some senior counterterrorism officials, that the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency have been using their own “noncompulsory” versions of the letters. Congress has rejected several attempts by the two agencies since 2001 for authority to issue mandatory letters, in part because of concerns about the dangers of expanding their role in domestic spying.
What we’ve got here is an agency that is forbidden from spying on citizens… spying on citizens… without a warrant… keeping the information in a database (read: forEVER)… and using this information in completely unaccountable, untold ways. Oh, and the Pentagon, NSA, and FBI are also in the act.
This is unconstitutional, illegal, and exceedingly dangerous. Whatever remained of our democracy is teetering on the brink of elimination.
Interesting how the righty jackasses screaming about jackbooted thugs in powder blue helmets are totally OK with this when there’s a Republican administration in charge. Idiots. Don’t you know that your names too are going to be on the list eventually?
… oooh, American Idol’s on!