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Employment contracts created under the Weimar Republic were abolished and renewed under new circumstances in the DAF. Employers could demand more of their workers, while at the same time workers were given increased security of work and increasingly enrolled into social security programmes for workers.
The organisation, by its own definition, combated capitalism, liberalism, but also revolution against the factory owners and the national socialist state. The DAF however did openly prefer to have large companies nationalised by the German state, instead of privately owned companies.
Federal employment offers many benefits; good health insurance, strong workers unions, retirement benefits, etc. While salaries can’t match those of law firms in boom-times, the compensation is adequate and reliable, and substantially better than at non-profit public interest positions. And don’t forget that working for the feds will entitle you to loan repayment and forgiveness programs, making the comparatively lower salary more manageable.
This was in the middle of the great depression, and many farms had been decimated
due to the drought which created dust bowls out of farming land. With no money for new
tractors, some farmers turned their Ford Model As or Ts into tractors by replacing
the regular tires with a giant pair of tractor wheels together with the required
gearing for the old back axle of their Fords. One owner claimed it did the cultivating
work of three horses on 6 gallons of gasoline a day - all for $99.50
German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler
Henry Ashby Turner, Jr.
Reviewed by By Fritz Stern
A seasoned historian, a master sleuth of pertinent, novel sources, reconstructs the many facets of corporate attitudes and actions vis-a-vis Nazism in the last years of Weimar. His verdict: big business, sometimes unwittingly, eased Hitler's path, but not so much by money-the Nazis raised their own money by means of small contributions-as by supporting Weimar's other gravediggers.
Businessmen were unsettled by Hitler's "strategy of calculated ambiguity on economic matters," but from 1930 had to reckon with the popularity of Hitler's party. Some of them gave funds, often to individual Nazis, as protection money. Turner argues that politics, not economics, was primary.
Turner dismisses all manner of facile generalities about the links between capitalism and fascism but perhaps could have described more broadly how businessmen shared with other members of the German elite a nondemocratic bias, a remarkable degree of political illiteracy, a self-assured civic amorality.
GERMAN BIG BUSINESS AND THE RISE OF HITLER, by Henry Ashby Turner, Jr. New York: Oxford University Press 1985. Hardcover, 487 pages. $25.00. ISBN 0-10-503492-9.
Reviewed by John M. Ries
A good portion of the the accepted legacy of German big business and its alleged role in the establishment of the Third Reich rests on the authenticity of the memoirs of certain key individuals who either participated in or witnessed the rise to power of Adolf Hitler from close proximity. Perhaps the two most important were Ruhr industrialist Fritz Thyssen and Hitler's press secretary Otto Dietrich. Thyssen, whose contempt for the Weimar Republic led him to support Hitler's NSDAP as early as the fall of 1923, was long considered to be one of its most important sources of funds. His memoirs, which Turner points out were ghostwritten, have been used by historians to substantiate the close connection between big business and the Nazi movement from its earliest days.
Questions arise, however, concerning the memoirs' authenticity, one particularly interesting example being a passage where Thyssen claims that he "donated 100,000 gold marks to the NSDAP in October 1923."
This was a critical period not only in the life of the NSDAP but in that of the Republic as well. Separatist movements were rampant throughout the Rhineland and Bavaria, and the Communists were threatening to take over the governments of Saxonv and Thuringia.
Moreover, the French occupation of the Ruhr, the industrial heart of Germany, continued to exert demoralizing effects, perhaps chief of which was the incredible hyper-inflation which threatened to wipe out what was left of the German middle class.
Given the dire situation at that time, one can well appreciate the uplifting effect a sum of 100,000 gold marks would have had on the morale of the NSDAP, then just one of many right-wing extremist groups plotting the overthrows of the tottering Weimar Republic.
Yet Turner states flatly that "in light of the available evidence, it seems unlikely that Thyssen gave any such sum to the Nazis." In the same paragraph of his memoirs,
Thyssen claims that he did not make the payment to Hitler himself but to General Erich Ludendorff, perhaps the most important figure in anti-Republican circles at that time, "to use it as best he could." Whether Ludendorff would have favored the NSDAP more than any of the other groups operating in Bavaria at that time remains doubtful.
In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote that Freemasonry had "succumbed" to the Jews: "The general pacifistic paralysis of the national instinct of self-preservation begun by Freemasonry is then transmitted to the masses of society by the Jewish press." Freemasons were sent to concentration camps as political prisoners, and forced to wear an inverted red triangle. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum believes "because many of the Freemasons who were arrested were also Jews and/or members of the political opposition, it is not known how many individuals were placed in Nazi concentration camps and/or were targeted only because they were Freemasons." However, the Grand Lodge of Scotland estimates the number of Freemasons executed between 80,000 and 200,000.
Main articles: Suppression of Freemasonry#Nazi Germany and Occupied Europe and Nacht und Nebel
A memorial for Loge Liberté chérie, founded in November 1943 in Hut 6 of Emslandlager VII (KZ Esterwegen), one of two Masonic Lodges founded in a Nazi concentration camp.
German public reaction
In his 1983 book, Popular Opinion and Political Dissent in the Third Reich, Ian Kershaw examined the Alltagsgeschichte (history of everyday life) in Bavaria during the Nazi period. Describing the attitudes of most Bavarians, Kershaw argued that the most common viewpoint was indifference towards what was happening to the Jews. Kershaw argued that most Bavarians were vaguely aware of the Shoah, but were vastly more concerned about the war than about the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question". Kershaw made the claim that "the road to Auschwitz was built by hate, but paved with indifference
Kershaw's assessment that most Bavarians, and by implication most Germans, were indifferent to the Shoah faced criticism from the Israeli historian Otto Dov Kulka, an expert on public opinion in Nazi Germany, and the Canadian historian Michael Kater. Kater contended that Kershaw downplayed the extent of popular anti-Semitism, and that though admitting that most of the "spontaneous" anti-Semitic actions of Nazi Germany were staged, argued that because these actions involved substantial numbers of Germans, it is wrong to see the extreme anti-Semitism of the Nazis as coming solely from above. Kulka argued that most Germans were more anti-Semitic than Kershaw portrayed them in Popular Opinion and Political Dissent, and that rather than "indifference", "passive complicity" would be a better term to describe the reaction of the German people.
Even prior to Hitler, Ford made the stereotypical amalgam between the Jews, the Russian Revolution and the labor movement. In the Independent, the Soviet Union was referred to as “the present Jewish government of Russia.”
“There are more Communists in the United States than there are in Soviet Russia. Their aim is the same and their racial character is the same.... The power house of Communist influence and propaganda in the United States is in the Jewish trade unions which, almost without exception, adhere to a Bolshevik program for the respective industries and for the country as a whole” stated the Protocols, the Dearborn Independent and The International Jew.
Says Albert Lee in his Henry Ford and the Jews, “Communism and unionism were all part of the same plot, according to Ford, and then Hitler. In his autobiography, My Life and Work, Ford said, ‘There seems to be a determined effort to fasten the Bolshevik stain on American labor.... Workingmen are made the tools of some manipulator who seeks his own ends through them.’”
Lee’s book, which, in general, is more hard-hitting than Baldwin’s, goes on to powerfully document parallels in argumentation between Ford’s autobiography and Mein Kampf.
My information comes not from my beliefs or my interpretation of his beliefs. The information comes directly from the very words of Hitler himself, from his private notes, conversations, writings, speeches and the people who knew him. I will show that he clearly reveals his Christianity, not only from his paraphrasing of the Bible, but from his confession as a Christian, his triune god-like actions and how his faith parallels the belief of many Christians today.
Nuremberg Race Laws
It should also enlighten one to realize that the Nuremberg Race Laws of 1935, signed by Hitler, and according to Julius Streicher, got based on the Old Testament laws forbidding marriages between Jews and non-Jews.
In 1923, Ford's pastor, and head of his sociology department, Episcopal minister Samuel S. Marquis, claimed that Ford believed, or "once believed," in reincarnation.Though it is unclear whether or how long Ford kept such a belief, the San Francisco Examiner from August 26, 1928, published a quote which described Ford's beliefs:
"I adopted the theory of Reincarnation when I was twenty six. Religion offered nothing to the point. Even work could not give me complete satisfaction. Work is futile if we cannot utilize the experience we collect in one life in the next. When I discovered Reincarnation it was as if I had found a universal plan I realized that there was a chance to work out my ideas. Time was no longer limited. I was no longer a slave to the hands of the clock."
"Genius is experience. Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives. Some are older souls than others, and so they know more. The discovery of Reincarnation put my mind at ease. If you preserve a record of this conversation, write it so that it puts men’s minds at ease. I would like to communicate to others the calmness that the long view of life gives to us."
"I don’t know whether Napoleon did or did not try to get across there and I don’t care. I don’t know much about history, and I wouldn’t give a nickel for all the history in the world. It means nothing to me. History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history we make today. Interview in Chicago Tribune (25 May 1916)"
Ford was born in 1863 in Dearbornville, Michigan, the “rural backwoods of fundamentalist America,” in Baldwin’s words. His book learning appears to have started and ended with the McGuffey reader, the dominant textbook in American schools for nearly a century. These volumes sought to inject Biblical study into all subjects, unabashedly stating that Protestant Christianity was the only true religion in America. McGuffey described Jews as “strangers to the morality contained in the Gospel,” and the reader featured stereotypical portrayals of diamond-dealers and “Shylocks.”
But beyond the exposure of these facts, Baldwin’s volume asks the more fundamental biographical and historical question: why did Henry Ford become so anti-Semitic? What were the social forces at work?
Ford’s friends among the bourgeoisie, such as the Firestones, John Burroughs and Thomas Edison, shared his antipathy towards the Jews.
Lastly, Baldwin emphasizes the economic factors that stoked Ford’s anti-Semitism. “Vilifying the ‘international banker’ Jews—the Rothschilds and Warburgs of the world—and their schemes to keep their hands on the cash flow of nations, Ford was, here too, certainly not alone among American business moguls of his generation,” writes Baldwin.However, he adds, Ford was unique in his determination to promulgate his views.
The Millionaires' Club
Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone. Ft. Myers, Florida, February 11, 1929.
Firestone, Ford, and Thomas Edison were generally considered the three leaders in American industry at the time, and often worked and vacationed together. All three were part of a very exclusive group titled "The Millionaires' Club."
Ford’s friends among the bourgeoisie, such as the Firestones, John Burroughs and Thomas Edison, shared his antipathy towards the Jews.
"........Firestone, Ford and Thomas Edison were generally considered the three leaders in American industry at the time, and often worked and vacationed together. All three were part of a very exclusive group titled "The Millionaires Club" . This was a true gentlemen’s club where one would call another in the appropriate city and ask him to purchase a building or other items for them without so much as a handshake, merely on his word......." (Wiki)
April 19, 2009
Patriot Act unconstitutional
By Michael Webster
According to Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) the law dramatically expands the ability of states and the Federal Government to conduct surveillance of American citizens. The Government can monitor an individual's web surfing records, use roving wiretaps to monitor phone calls made by individuals "proximate" to the primary person being tapped, access Internet Service Provider records, and monitor the private records of people involved in legitimate protests.
Powers under the existing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) have been broadened to allow for increased surveillance opportunities. FISA standards are lower than the constitutional standard applied by the courts in regular investigations. PATRIOT partially repeals legislation enacted in the 1970s that prohibited pervasive surveillance of Americans. PATRIOT eliminates Government accountability.
While PATRIOT freely eliminates privacy rights for individual Americans, it creates more secrecy for Government activities, making it extremely difficult to know about actions the Government are taking. PATRIOT authorizes the use of "sneak and peek" search warrants in connection with any federal crime, including misdemeanors. A "sneak and peek" warrant authorizes law enforcement officers to enter private premises without the occupant's permission or knowledge and without informing the occupant that such a search was conducted.
The Department of Justice, with little input from Congress and the American people, is developing follow-on legislation — the Domestic Security Enhancement Act (nicknamed Patriot II) — which would greatly expand Patriot's already sweeping powers.
The federal government has turned American freedoms into a world wide mockery with their unchecked spying on ordinary Americans, part of a broad pattern of the executive branch using "national security" and or "suspected terrorism " as an excuse for encroaching on the privacy and free speech rights of Americans without adequate oversight. It eliminates many protections against unlawful imprisonment and now many rights in U.S. legal system are absent — such as the important right of habeas corpus.
As written the act violates due process for all Americans. All the president has to do is call a citizen an "enemy combatant," and the person's due process rights disappear. The US Government says that U.S. citizens can be detained and then tried in secret trials — in absentia, and can use secret evidence that the accused cannot see or challenge. If evidence is obtained by coercion, or torture government lawyers contend that it should still be allowed as a basis for conviction, there by erasing 300 years of Anglo-American jurisprudence.
The sections of the Patriot Act that deal with financial transactions fall under Title III, which is also known as the International Money Laundering Abatement and Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001. It stands on its own as a separate act of Congress as well as being part of the Patriot Act, and is an amended version of the 1986 Money Laundering Control Act and the 1970 Bank Secrecy Act. The earlier acts tended to focus on preventing money laundering and international cash flow as it related to the drug trade, or to gambling, smuggling, and other types of criminal activity. In the 2001 version, the focus has shifted towards money laundering as a means of financing international terrorism.
Cash transactions are certainly not prohibited, but they bring more government scrutiny, and they are now more inconvenient for certain vendors to process. If you deposit, withdraw, or make a purchase involving more than $10,000 in cash in one day, the other agency involved has to file a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) with the IRS that reports details such as your name, address, and taxpayer identification number. If you purchase over $3,000 of traveler's checks, money orders, or cashier's checks, such a transaction will also be reported to the IRS via a Monetary Instrument Log (MIL). And should you engage in any activity that indicates you may be engaged in money laundering or otherwise violating the law, your transaction may even trigger your being put on the no fly list and on the Suspicious Activity Report (SAR). The SAR will be filed without your knowledge — it is, in fact, against the law for you to be informed of the SAR as your knowledge would compromise the subsequent investigation.
If you want the Patriot Act to be repealed you should immediately write your Congressperson and express your concerns, if you and millions of others don't America's leadership in freedom and many of our own basic freedoms and liberties will be a thing of the past.
Powers under the existing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) have been broadened to allow for increased surveillance opportunities. [color=FF0000]FISA standards are lower than the constitutional standard applied by the courts in regular investigations. PATRIOT partially repeals legislation enacted in the 1970s that prohibited pervasive surveillance of Americans.
PATRIOT eliminates Government accountability. While PATRIOT freely eliminates privacy rights for individual Americans, [color=C11B17]it creates more secrecy for Government activities, making it extremely difficult to know about actions the Government are taking. PATRIOT authorizes the use of "sneak and peek" search warrants in connection with any federal crime, including misdemeanors.
A "sneak and peek" warrant authorizes law enforcement officers to enter private premises without the occupant's permission or knowledge and without informing the occupant that such a search was conducted.
U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as amended by the Patriot Act, "now permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment."
Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield sought the ruling in a lawsuit against the federal government after he was mistakenly linked by the FBI to the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in 2004.
The federal government apologized and settled part of the lawsuit for $2 million after admitting a fingerprint was misread. But as part of the settlement, Mayfield retained the right to challenge parts of the Patriot Act, which greatly expanded the authority of law enforcers to investigate suspected acts of terrorism.
Mayfield claimed that secret searches of his house and office under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act violated the Fourth Amendment's guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure. Aiken agreed with Mayfield, repeatedly criticizing the government.
Before his arrest, the FBI put Mayfield under 24-hour surveillance, listened to his phone calls and surreptitiously searched his home and law office.
The Mayfield case has been an embarrassment for the federal government. Last year, the Justice Department's internal watchdog faulted the FBI for sloppy work in mistakenly linking Mayfield to the Madrid bombings. ^That report said federal prosecutors and FBI agents had made inaccurate and ambiguous statements to a federal judge to get arrest and criminal search warrants against Mayfield.
Federal judge rules 2 Patriot Act provisions unconstitutional
September 26, 2007
A federal court on Wednesday struck down two provisions of the Patriot Act dealing with searches and intelligence gathering, saying they violate the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures with regard to criminal prosecutions.
"It is critical that we, as a democratic nation, pay close attention to traditional Fourth Amendment principles," wrote Judge Ann Aiken of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon in her 44-page decision. "The Fourth Amendment has served this nation well for 220 years, through many other perils."
Bruce Fein is a lawyer in the United States who specializes in constitutional and international law. Fein has written numerous articles on constitutional issues for The Washington Times, Slate.com, The New York Times, Legal Times, and is active on the issues of civil liberties.
He has also worked for the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, both conservative think tanks, as an analyst and commentator.
Fein is a principal in a government affairs and public relations firm, The Lichfield Group, in Washington, D.C..He is also a resident scholar at the Turkish Coalition of America.
Criticizing Bush, Clinton and Obama
The George W. Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program which intercepted some communications without a warrant from the FISA court incensed him enough to propose censure or even impeachment of Bush He ridiculed Harriett Miers's Supreme Court nomination, and was sharply criticical of then-U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
In March 2007,he founded the American Freedom Agenda with Bob Barr, David Keene and Richard Viguerie. Notable published writings by Fein include articles advocating the impeachment of former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and former U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney.
On September 2, 2008, Fein addressed Ron Paul's "Rally For The Republic" in Minneapolis, offering a critique of the Bush administration's interventionist policy and advocating a more non-interventionist foreign policy. Fein also harshly criticized the anti-terror policies of the Bush White House, including wiretapping and detention of terror suspects.
In April 2009, Fein criticized President Barack Obama for declining to prosecute Bush administration officials for composing CIA memos justifying torture during interrogations.
In 2011, Fein proposed impeaching President Barack Obama in connection with the 2011 military intervention in Libya.
Latest Title: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001
Sponsor: Rep Sensenbrenner, F. James, Jr. [WI-9] (introduced 10/23/2001) Cosponsors (1)
Related Bills:H.R.2975, H.R.3004, S.1510
Latest Major Action: Became Public Law No: 107-56
Note: H.R. 3162, the USA PATRIOT Act, incorporated provisions of two earlier anti-terrorism bills: H.R. 2975, which passed the House on 10/12/2001; and S. 1510, which passed the Senate on 10/11/2001. Provisions of H.R. 3004, the Financial Anti-Terrorism Act, were incorporated as Title III in H.R. 3162.
Title I - This section pertains to the protection of civil liberties. It authorizes federal money to accomplish much of the act's provisions and authorizes the Secret Service to create a nationwide electronic crime task force. This section also gives the president the authority to confiscate the property of any foreign person who is believed to have aided in a war or attack on the United States. Such seizures can be submitted secretly to courts as evidence.
Sensenbrenner is again at the forefront of the USA PATRIOT Act debate, pressing House Judiciary Chairman Conyers and Attorney General Holder to move quickly in the reauthorization of the three expiring provisions. Sensenbrenner has publicly commended the Obama Administration for expressing their support for the reauthorization of the roving wiretap, lone wolf and Section 215 business records provisions, all set to expire at the end of this year.
Many allegations, hyperbole and myths surround the USA PATRIOT Act, however, Sensenbrenner stated in his remarks, “To date, the Office of the Inspector General has not documented any abuse of civil rights or civil liberties by the Department related to the use of any substantive provision of the USA PATRIOT Act… The fact remains that the USA PATRIOT Act is vital to maintaining America’s safety.”
The dismissal of U.S. Attorneys controversy was initiated by the unprecedented midterm dismissal of seven United States Attorneys on December 7, 2006 by the George W. Bush administration's Department of Justice. Congressional investigations focused on whether the Department of Justice and the White House were using the U.S. Attorney positions for political advantage. Allegations were that some of the attorneys were targeted for dismissal to impede investigations of Republican politicians or that some were targeted for their failure to initiate investigations that would damage Democratic politicians or hamper Democratic-leaning voters. The U.S. attorneys were replaced with interim appointees, under provisions in the 2005 USA PATRIOT Act reauthorization.
The dismissed U.S. Attorneys had all been appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate, more than four years earlier.Two other attorneys were dismissed in controversial circumstances in 2005-2006. Twenty-six or more U.S. Attorneys had been under consideration for dismissal during this time period. The firings received attention via hearings in Congress in January 2007, and by March 2007 the controversy had national visibility. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stated that the U.S. Attorneys "serve at the pleasure of the president" and described the affair as "an overblown personnel matter".
At issue are the security letters, a power outlined in the Patriot Act that the Bush administration pushed through Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The letters, or administrative subpoenas, are used in suspected terrorism and espionage cases. They allow the FBI to require telephone companies, Internet service providers, banks, credit bureaus and other businesses to produce highly personal records about their customers or subscribers — without a judge's approval.
About three-fourths of the national security letters were issued for counterterror cases, and the other fourth for spy investigations.
Controversial requests to the media
The FBI used the USA PATRIOT Act 13 times to request journalists that had interviewed computer intruder Adrian Lamo to preserve their notes and other information while they petitioned the Department of Justice for a subpoena to force the reporters to hand over the information. Journalists involved included newspaper writers, wire service reporters, and MSNBC writers.
The Department of Justice did not authorize the subpoena requests because the language of the subpoena violated the Department's guidelines for a subpoena request, rather than recognition of any reporter/source privilege. The requests to preserve information were dropped. In some cases, the FBI apologized for the language of the request.
On April 6, 2004, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the FBI and DHS over the USA PATRIOT Act's authority to demand that a business hand over records that may contain private financial or business information that is not pertinent to an ongoing investigation. The specific action in question was the request of the FBI and DHS for the account information for users of an Internet service provider.
Citing possible secrecy provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, the Department of Justice prevented the ACLU from releasing the text of a countersuit for three weeks. After judicial and congressional oversight, sections of the countersuit that did not violate secrecy rules of the USA PATRIOT Act were released.
The lawsuit filed by the ACLU was dropped on October 27, 2006. ACLU stated it is withdrawing the lawsuit because of improvements to the law. "While the reauthorized Patriot Act is far from perfect, we succeeded in stemming the damage from some of the Bush administration's most reckless policies," Ann Beeson, associate legal director of the ACLU.
In June 2005, the United States House of Representatives voted to repeal the Patriot Act provision that allows federal agents to examine people's book-reading habits at public libraries and bookstores as part of terrorism investigations
2007 US Justice Department audit finds FBI abuse of PATRIOT act powers
On March 9, 2007, a Justice Department audit found that the FBI had "improperly and, in some cases, illegally used the USA PATRIOT Act to secretly obtain personal information" about United States citizens.
On June 15, 2007, following an internal audit finding that FBI agents abused the USA PATRIOT Act power more than 1000 times, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates ordered the agency to begin turning over thousands of pages of documents related to the agency's national security letters program
Justice Department: FBI acted illegally on data
Audit finds agency misused Patriot Act to obtain information on citizens
WASHINGTON — The FBI improperly and, in some cases, illegally used the USA Patriot Act to secretly obtain personal information about people in the United States, a Justice Department audit concluded Friday.
And for three years the FBI has underreported to Congress how often it forced businesses to turn over the customer data, the audit found.
FBI agents sometimes demanded the data without proper authorization, according to the 126-page audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine. At other times, the audit found, the FBI improperly obtained telephone records in non-emergency circumstances.
FBI Director Robert Mueller said he was to blame for not putting more safeguards into place.
“I am to be held accountable,” Mueller said. He told reporters he would correct the problems and did not plan to resign.
“The inspector general went and did the audit that I should have put in place many years ago,” Mueller said.
The audit blames agent error and shoddy record-keeping for the bulk of the problems and did not find any indication of criminal misconduct.
Still, "we believe the improper or illegal uses we found involve serious misuses of national security letter authorities," the audit concludes.
FBI Tried to Cover Patriot Act Abuses With Flawed, Retroactive Subpoenas, Audit Finds
By Ryan Singel
March 13, 2008 |
FBI headquarters officials sought to cover their informal and possibly illegal acquisition of phone records on thousands of Americans from 2003 to 2005 by issuing 11 improper, retroactive “blanket” administrative subpoenas in 2006 to three phone companies that are under contract to the FBI, according to an audit released Thursday.
Top officials at the FBI’s counter-terrorism division signed the blanket subpoenas “retroactively to justify the FBI’s acquisition of data through the exigent letters or or other informal requests,” the Justice Department’s Inspector General Glenn Fine found.
The revelations come in a follow-up report to Fine’s 2007 finding that the FBI abused a key Patriot Act power, known as a National Security Letter. That first reports showed that FBI agents were routinely sloppy in using the self-issued subpoenas and issued hundreds that claimed fake emergencies.
With the flawed follow-up letters, the Counterterrorism division attempted to provide retroactive legal justification for telephone data the division had gotten on 3,860 phone numbers, gotten either through verbal requests to the companies or false emergency requests.
The letters are related to still-secret contracts the FBI’s Communication Analysis Unit has with AT&T, Verizon and MCI. The contracts pay the companies to store subscribers’ phone records for longer periods of time and to provide faster service for FBI subpoenas. Those contracts began in May 2003, but the FBI refuses to release them.
At least one of the letters was signed by an assistant director and none were cleared with the FBI’s general counsel.
FBI agents issue tens of thousands of National Security Letters annually to get phone records, portions of credit histories, and track down IP addresses without getting a judge’s approval in cases involving suspected terrorism, computer crimes or espionage.
Additionally, some of those retroactive NSLs sought records that the FBI was not authorized to obtain, and failed to explain — as required by policy — what investigation the records pertained to. Fine found that all were “issued in violation of internal FBI policy.”
In his 2007 report on the FBI’s use of that Patriot Act power during 2003 to 2005, Fine disclosed that officials at the counter-terrorism division had issued more than 700 emergency requests for data to telephone companies — so-called exigent letters — most with false promises that a court order was in the works and would be delivered after the fact.
Those letters prompted a further investigation of those letters, including a reported criminal probe of counter-terrorism officials, and Thursday’s report says an in depth report on that office is forthcoming.
The report shows the need for Congress to narrow the FBI’s powers and strengthen privacy laws, according to Mike German, a longtime FBI agent who now works for the ACLU, who says it’s clear the FBI has been breaking the law.
Additionally, the audit found, the FBI identified 26 possible violations in its use of the national security letters, including failing to get proper authorization, making improper requests under the law and unauthorized collection of telephone or Internet e-mail records.
Of the violations, 22 were caused by FBI errors, while the other four were the result of mistakes made by the firms that received the letters.
The audit released Friday found that the number of national security letters issued by the FBI skyrocketed in the years after the Patriot Act became law.
In 2000, for example, the FBI issued an estimated 8,500 letters. By 2003, however, that number jumped to 39,000. It rose again the next year, to about 56,000 letters in 2004, and dropped to approximately 47,000 in 2005.
Over the entire three-year period, the FBI reported issuing 143,074 national security letters requesting customer data from businesses, the audit found. But that did not include an additional 8,850 requests that were never recorded in the FBI’s database, the audit found.
Also, Fine’s audit noted, a 2006 report to Congress showing that the FBI delivered only 9,254 national security letters during the previous year — on 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents — was only required to report certain types of requests for information. That report did not outline the full scope of the national security letter requests in 2005, nor was it required to, Fine’s office said.
The FBI also used so-called "exigent letters," signed by officials at FBI headquarters who were not authorized to sign national security letters, to obtain information. In at least 700 cases, these exigent letters were sent to three telephone companies to get toll billing records and subscriber information.
"In many cases, there was no pending investigation associated with the request at the time the exigent letters were sent," the audit concluded.
“The FBI has flagrantly put aside the rule of law and its internal guidelines time and again,” German said “This is the kind of abuse that is inevitable when we broaden the government’s surveillance power and do not attempt to modernize privacy standards. Both the House and Senate have bills waiting to be marked up that will greatly limit this authority. Congress needs to act on this now.”
The 187-page report focused on NSL usage in 2006 and how the FBI attempted to correct the abuses brought to light by last year’s report.
The FBI evaded limits on, and sometimes illegally issued, orders for phone, email and financial information on American citizens and underreported the use of these self-issued orders to Congress, according to an internal audit by the Justice Department released Friday. The DOJ Inspector General reported that the FBI used self-issued subpoenas, known as National Security Letters, to get information on at least 143,074 targets.
The audit found that 60% of a sample of these subpoenas did not conform to the rules, and another 22% contained unreported possible violations of the authorizing statute, including improper requests and unauthorized collections of information..
Additionally, the report faulted the FBI for sloppy record keeping, and found that, in one sample, the number of targets was 22% higher than was reported, meaning that the full extent of the use of the power was unknown.
The audit also found that one office made arrangements with telephone companies to get information instantly and then began getting records before issuing the NSL, by sending letters saying they needed the information for an emergency and that they were in the process of getting the letter. But, the audit found, "we could not confirm one instance in which a subpoena had been submitted to any U.S. attorney’s office before the exigent letter was sent to the phone companies" and that "many were not issued in exigent circumstances."
The report sparked Congressman Edward Markey, (D-Massachusetts), a senior member of the Homeland Security committee, to call for hearings.
"The Inspector General’s report is a scathing critique of FBI misuse of the secretive process used to obtain sensitive personal information about individuals, including U.S. citizens, such as telephone records, e-mails, and other personal information" Markey said in a press release.
"Tracking terrorists and thwarting attacks is absolutely essential, but when the FBI short-circuits legal processes that are supposed to provide enhanced terror-fighting tools without trampling Americans’ civil liberties,the Bureau undermines confidence in our legal system and may ensnare innocent Americans in terrorism investigations."
The report also shows that the FBI is increasingly targeting citizens and green card holders, with more than 11,517 requests in 2006 targeting U.S. persons, while Non U.S. persons were targeted with 8,605 requests
Senator Leahy Urges Attorney General to Implement Patriot Act Reforms: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder regarding key privacy safeguards for the PATRIOT Act.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act earlier in the year, which included many reforms, but the full Senate did not act on the measure Because the administration supported the reforms within the bill, Sen. Leahy advised the Attorney General that he can voluntarily adopt many of the reforms even without Congressional action.
Senator Leahy expressed particular concern about the possible misuse of National Security Letter authority. Attorney General Holder will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 for an oversight hearing. For more information, see EPIC: National Security Letters. (Apr. 14, 2010)
Inspector General Finds "Egregious Breakdown" in FBI Oversight: The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General has issued a report on the FBI's use of "exigent letters" and other means to obtain telephone records from three unnamed phone companies. The 300-page report concludes that many of the FBI's practices "violated FBI guidelines, Department policy," and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The report also found that "the FBI sought and acquired reporters' telephone toll billing records and calling activity information" through improper means.
The report concludes that "the FBI's initial attempts at corrective action were seriously deficient, ill-conceived, and poorly executed" and makes several recommendations for improvement. In a 2007 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, EPIC recommended that the FBI's National Security Letter authority be repealed. For more information, see EPIC National Security Letters. (Jan. 21, 2010)
[color=E77471] Inspector General Finds Continuing Abuses of Patriot Act Powers.For the fourth consecutive year, the Inspector General found privacy breaches by FBI agents using National Security Letters, which permit the FBI to compel the disclosure of records held by banks, telephone companies, and others without judicial oversight.
A second report found abuses of Patriot Act Section 215 orders that allow the FBI to demand business records and other "tangible things" from any company or individual. "[W]e found that the FBI had issued
[NSLs] for information about [redacted] after the FISA court, citing First Amendment concerns, had twice declined to sign Section 215 orders in the same investigation," the Inspector General said. Sen. Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, plans an oversight hearing. "Legislative action may be necessary to correct these abuses. I intend to seek accountability and advertence to the rule of law," he said. EPIC has recommended reforms to the NSL authority. (March 14, 2008)
NSL "Gag Order" Provisions
[color=ECD672 ]The four NSL statutes all include "gag order" provisions barring those who receive NSLs from disclosing the fact that they have received such a letter (even to the consumer whose records are being sought) and from disclosing the records provided. The Patriot Act did not alter these provisions. An op-ed explaining one NSL recipient's experience with the gag order entitled My National Security Letter Gag Order appeared in the Washington Post on March 23, 2007.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has challenged the gag order provisions in two cases, Doe v. Ashcroft and Doe v. Gonzales. In both cases, the judges ruled that the gag orders were unconstitutional on both Fourth and First Amendment grounds. See the ACLU's pages on Doe v. Ashcroft and Doe v. Gonzales for more information.
The Patriot Reauthorization Act of 2005 modified some of the gag order provisions. An NSL recipient may now disclose the fact that they received an NSL in connection with seeking legal advice or complying with the NSL. NSL recipients were also given the ability to challenge, in federal court, compliance with the NSL and the gag order provisions. Additionally, the government was given the ability to seek judicial enforcement of NSLs in non-compliance situations.
[color=ECD672]The OIG also found over 700 "exigent letters," which are not authorized by statute and some of which appear to have been issued when no exigency or emergency existed. These letters requested records from telephone companies and promised that proper subpoenas had been submitted or would follow. However the OIG found no confirmation that subpoenas, NSLs, or other proper process did follow or had in fact been submitted.
The Inspector General's report detailed the FBI's use of NSLs from 2003 to 2005. All of the below statistics were taken from this report.
• Total number of NSL requests from 2000 (prior to passage of the Patriot Act): about 8,500.
• Total number of NSL requests from 2003-2005 (after passage of the Patriot Act): 143,074.
o 2003: 39,346
o 2004: 56,507
o 2005: 47,221
• Percentage of NSL requests generated from investigations of U.S. Persons:
o 2003: about 39%
o 2004: about 51%
o 2005: about 53%
• Type of investigation connected to NSL requests (2003 through 2005):
o Counterterrorism: 73.6%
o Counterintelligence: 26%
o Foreign Cyber Investigations: 0.4%
Legal Authority for NSL Power
The FBI's authority to issue NSLs dates back to 1986, when an amendment to the Right to Financial Privacy Act was passed permitting the FBI to obtain financial records in foreign counterintelligence cases. Since then, Congress has enacted a number of laws authorizing the FBI to obtain, without judicial oversight, certain types of information in terrorism, espionage, and classified information leak investigations.
[color=ECD672 ]Among these laws are four statutory provisions that authorize the FBI to use NSLs to obtain customer transactional information from communications companies, financial institutions, and consumer credit agencies. The Patriot Act expanded these four existing statutes, and added a fifth NSL authority. The five sources of the FBI's NSL power are:
1. The Right to Financial Privacy Act (RFPA), 12 U.S.C. § 3414. As originally enacted in 1978, the RFPA required that before a disclosure of personal financial information was made to law enforcement, government agencies must have provided individuals with advance notice and have given the individual an opportunity to challenge the request.
A 1986 amendment to the RFPA created an exception to this advance notice requirement by authorizing the FBI to obtain financial records in foreign counterintelligence cases in cases where the agency had "specific and articulable facts giving reason to believe that the customer or entity whose records are sought is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power."
These requirements were changed upon enactment of the Patriot Act; the FBI may now obtain financial records if the information is sought for foreign counterintelligence purposes, as long as the investigation is not based on conduct protected by the First Amendment. Congress again amended the RFPA in 2003 to expand the definition of "financial institutions" to which NSLs could be issued.
The statute now covers large casinos, insurance companies, automobile dealerships, credit unions, real estate companies, and travel agencies.
2. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), 18 U.S.C. § 2709. The ECPA allows the FBI to obtain telephone and e-mail information by issuing a NSL. This includes historical information on telephone calls made and received from a specified number, and billing records associated with a number. It also includes e-mails, screen names, and billing records for electronic communication services. Lastly, it includes subscriber information associated with an individual's phone or e-mail account.
3. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. § 1681u. The FCRA, as amended in 1996, authorizes the FBI to issue NSLs to obtain a consumer's credit history information, including the names and addresses of all financial institutions at which the consumer maintains or has maintained an account. The FBI may also request a consumer's identifying information, limited to name, address, former addresses, and both current and past employers.[/yellow]
4. Patriot Act amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681v. This new national security letter authority authorizes the FBI (and any government agency authorized to conduct international terrorism investigations) to obtain a consumer's full credit report and "all other" information in a consumer's file for international terrorism investigations.
5. The National Security Act, 50 U.S.C. § 436. The National Security Act, amended to include NSL authority after the 1994 espionage investigation of former CIA employee Aldrich Ames, authorizes NSLs to be issued in association with investigations of improper disclosure of classified information by government employees. This authority is rarely used by the FBI. The NSLs can cover financial records and information, including consumer reports.
Legislative Proposals to Address NSL Issues
Legislation reintroduced by Representative Jane Harman (D-CA) on March 28 would return the threshold for when a NSL may be issued back to the pre-Patriot Act standard of requiring that the FBI show a specific connection to a terrorist or foreign power before an NSL could be issued.
The bill also requires the approval of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge or designated United States Magistrate Judge prior to the issuance of a national security letter, create an electronic filing system for NSL applications, and require the FBI to destroy information obtained through NSLs once it is no longer needed.
The bill would further increase Congressional oversight of the FBI's use of NSLs. For more information, see the Library of Congress page on the bill.
Audit: FBI's Patriot Act snooping broke rules
NATIONAL SECURITY LETTERSMarch 09, 2007
The FBI is guilty of "serious misuse" of the power to secretly obtain private information under the Patriot Act, a government audit said Friday.
The Justice Department's inspector general looked at the FBI's use of national security letters, in which agents demand personal and business information about individuals -- such as financial, phone, and Internet records -- without court orders.
The audit found the letters were issued without proper authority, cited incorrect statutes or obtained information they weren't supposed to.
As many as 22 percent of national security letters were not recorded, the audit said.
"We concluded that many of the problems we identified constituted serious misuse of the FBI's national security letter authorities," Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said in the report.
The audit said there were no indications that the FBI's use of the letters "constituted criminal misconduct."
The audit sparked a new stage in the ongoing battle over the Patriot Act, which was put into place after the September 11 attacks.
Critics have slammed some of its provisions for intruding on civil liberties. The American Civil Liberties Union called on Congress to "act immediately to repeal these dangerous Patriot Act provisions."
The FBI has made as many as 56,000 requests a year for information using the letters since the Patriot Act was passed in October 2001, the audit found.
A single letter can contain multiple information requests, and multiple letters may target one individual.
The audit found that in 2004 and 2005, more than half of the targets of the national security letters were U.S. citizens.
Additionally, some of those retroactive NSLs sought records that the FBI was not authorized to obtain, and failed to explain — as required by policy — what investigation the records pertained to. Fine found that all were “issued in violation of internal FBI policy.”
Inspector General Confirms Probe of Rogue FBI Anti-Terror Office
By Ryan Singel July 19, 2007
The Justice Department’s Inspector General and the FBI are investigating an office that sent fake, emergency letters to telecoms requesting phone records, according to the Inspector General’s office. That office lacked the authority to request the records and did not apply for the subpoenas promised in the letters.
That information largely confirms a a Wired News story from last week, which revealed that top FBI officials told privacy groups that a criminal investigation of the office was underway and that individuals had been granted immunity.
If the investigation looks into possible criminal violations of fraud statutes or a violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, it would mark the first known investigation of government employees for violations of the Patriot Act.
Cynthia Schnedar, the Counsel to the Inspector General, confirmed Thursday that a joint investigation was being conducted by the Inspector General and the FBI. She declined to specify if the investigation was criminal or administrative, saying the office’s policy is not to characterize investigations.
As to whether individuals in the Communications Analysis Unit had been granted immunity, Schnedar also declined to comment, saying "I can’t talk about ongoing investigations."
With Nazis in powerful positions in the German government, the decree was used as the legal basis of imprisonment of anyone considered to be opponents of the Nazis, and to suppress publications not considered “friendly” to the Nazi cause. The decree is considered by historians to be one of the key steps in the establishment of a one-party Nazi state in Germany. Wiki