He is right, of course. The FBI has now taken upon itself the authority to spy on, and keep records on any and all law abiding people, citizen or not. Hentoff in turn quotes a paper by Michael Ratner and Margarate Ratner Kunstler:
“As surveillance and the gathering of information can be carried out without any criminal predicate and on the completely innocent, these guidelines have effectively granted the FBI the authority to use and retain records on millions of law-abiding Americans.”Of course, the FBI has been doing this for years, performing surveillance on, for instance, Martin Luther King. But absent criminal activity, it was seen as illegitimate. But now it has been legitimized by executive fiat. Coupled with the NDAA, the TSA's list of indicators of domestic terrorism, and most recently, the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of "right wing" terrorists, which includes Black Panther Malik Zulu Shabazz*, along with Journalist Frank Gaffney, Blogger Pamela Geller, Blogger Mike Vanderboegh, and Historian David Barton, one wonders who will be targeted next, and why? Note that this policy was legitimized under Bush, for those who want to use a "but Bush..." argument. Bush, in my opinion, handed Obama a number of precedents that Obama has since carried to extremes. This is but one.
As recent terror arrests have indicated, often the people arrested might have a mild interest in committing an act of terrorism, but one wonders how successful at executing such an act they would be without the "help" of FBI undercover agents. The case of the Cleveland bombers is instructive. The Cleveland bombers, members of the Occupy movement, clearly wanted to blow something up. FBI informants infiltrated the group, actively worked with them to figure out a target, and supplied them with what they thought were plastic explosives. One wonders if the plot would have gone beyond a couple of blowhards venting their frustrations had it not been for the FBI agitating and encouraging these people. Now, I have little sympathy for anyone who is protesting with the Occupy movement, but if the FBI can do this to one group, they can do it to any other group. We need to return to strict adherence to the Constitution for everyone, to protect everyone.
* Note: Shabazz, and the Black Panthers are not on the right. Their philosophy and what the espouse places them on the collectivist Left, along with Neo-Nazis, skinheads, and the socialists, communists and progressives.