This article from NYTimes.com
has been sent to you by tradergroupe@....
To borrow a phrase from the past,"There they go again." In the name of the War on Terrorism and Espionage the FBI is getting set to get approval on a law to allow them to subpoena a wider array of business financial records without any court approval needed. The new law would expand the categories of types of businesses which could get a subpoena. This is so terrorists and epionage agents won't use pawn brokers or casinos or securities firms to launder money.
Most likey, what Ashcroft will do is do what he did with the powers of the Patriot Act - he went out and got a pornography ring, a prostitution ring and a food coupon ring. All of them of course supporting terrorist and espionage agents.
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F.B.I.’s Reach Into Records Is Set to Grow
November 12, 2003
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 - A little-noticed measure approved by
both the House and Senate would significantly expand the
F.B.I.'s power to demand financial records, without a
judge's approval, from car dealers, travel agents,
pawnbrokers and many other businesses, officials said on
Traditional financial institutions like banks and credit
unions are frequently subject to administrative subpoenas
from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to produce
financial records in terrorism and espionage
investigations. Such subpoenas, which are known as national
security letters, do not require the bureau to seek a
judge's approval before issuing them.
The measure now awaiting final approval in Congress would
significantly broaden the law to include securities
dealers, currency exchanges, car dealers, travel agencies,
post offices, casinos, pawnbrokers and any other
institution doing cash transactions with "a high degree of
usefulness in criminal, tax or regulatory matters."
Officials said the measure, which is tucked away in the
intelligence community's authorization bill for 2004, gives
agents greater flexibility and speed in seeking to trace
the financial assets of people suspected of terrorism and
espionage. It mirrors a proposal that President Bush
outlined in a speech two months ago to expand the use of
administrative subpoenas in terrorism cases.
Critics said the measure would give the federal government
greater power to pry into people's private lives.
"This dramatically expands the government's authority to
get private business records," said Timothy H. Edgar,
legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.
"You buy a ring for your grandmother from a pawnbroker, and
the record on that will now be considered a financial
record that the government can get."
The provision is in the authorization bills passed by both
houses of Congress. Some Democrats have begun to question
whether the measure goes too far and have hinted that they
may try to have it pulled when the bill comes before a
House-Senate conference committee. Other officials
predicted that the measure would probably survive any
challenges in conference and be signed into law by
President Bush, in part because the provisions already
approved in the House and the Senate are identical.
The intelligence committees considered the proposal at the
request of George J. Tenet, the director of central
intelligence, officials said. Officials at the C.I.A. and
the Justice Department declined to comment on Tuesday about
A senior Congressional official who supports the provision
said that "this is meant to provide agents with the same
amount of flexibility in terrorism investigations that they
have in other types of investigations."
"This was really just a technical change to reflect the new
breed of financial institutions," the official added.
Asked what had prompted the measure, the official said:
"This is coming from 3,000 dead people. There's an
ever-expanding universe of places where terrorists can hide
financial transactions, and it's only prudent and wise to
anticipate where they might be and to give law enforcement
the tools that they need to find them."
Christopher Wray, the Justice Department's assistant
attorney general in charge of the criminal division, also
addressed the issue last month at a Senate hearing.
Mr. Wray said that compared with the antiterrorism law that
allowed agents to demand business records with court
approval, the F.B.I.'s administrative subpoenas were more
limited. The administrative subpoenas "do provide for
production of some records," he said, but "they don't cover
as many types of business records."