Friday, October 06, 2006

The Mahablog: Priorities

Is King George making you feel safer yet? See this from The Mahablog:

"The priority thing came to mind when I read this editorial in today’s Washington Post:

THE BUSH administration has pushed aggressively for expanded surveillance powers, military commissions and rough interrogation techniques. When it comes to fighting the war on terrorism, just about anything goes. Except, that is, those routine steps with no civil liberties implications at all that might significantly interrupt terrorism — such as, say, reading the mail of convicted terrorists housed in American prisons. The federal Bureau of Prisons, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine wrote, “does not read all the mail for terrorist and other high-risk inmates on its mail monitoring lists.” It is also “unable to effectively monitor high-risk inmates’ verbal communications,” including phone calls. So while the administration won’t reveal the circumstances under which it spies on innocent Americans, the communications of imprisoned terrorists, at least, appear sadly secure.


This is not a hypothetical problem. Jailed terrorists and organized-crime figures try to communicate with confederates outside of prison walls. Three inmates involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, while housed at the federal government’s highest-security prison, managed to exchange around 90 letters with Islamist extremists between 2002 and 2004, including with terrorists in Spain who were planning attacks there. Just last month, federal prosecutors accused a drug lord at the same facility of running a huge distribution network in Los Angeles using coded conversations and messages. Imprisoned people can direct major crimes from behind bars.

The mail isn’t scrutinized, the editorial continues, because there aren’t enough translators available to read it, and those officers who do take a look at the mail are not trained to recognize suspicious content."

1 comment:

Betsy McKenzie said...

UH-OH! Jim and Betsy are outraged in tandem. The blog may reach critical mass and meltdown if this happens too often. Or else, it might rise to the attention of the FBI or Alberto Gonzales.