When we suffered the horrible attacks on September 11, 2001, we were told that there was a problem. First, our security agencies were not able to spy quickly enough and with enough autonomy to really protect us. Second, our security agencies were not working together, pooling their data, and sharing resources.
The Patriot Act and other fixes were supposed to address these issues. We would get new protection from terrorists because our departments in government were cooperating closely to spy on us for the sake of national security.
The unfolding, increasingly sensational Petraeus scandal shows us we only get one out of three.
The scandal shows us that the agencies are spying with great energy. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has powers I never suspected them of holding. They are even able to hack the emails of the Director of Central Intelligence without him knowing about it. The FBI has the power.
But are they really using their powers for national security reasons? Here is the chain of events according to the New York Times:
“Law enforcement officials have said they used only ordinary methods in the case, which might have included grand jury subpoenas and search warrants. As the complainant, Ms. Kelley presumably granted F.B.I. specialists access to her computer, which they would have needed in their hunt for clues to the identity of the sender of the anonymous e-mails. While they were looking, they discovered General Allen’s e-mails, which F.B.I. superiors found “potentially inappropriate” and decided should be shared with the Defense Department. In a parallel process, the investigators gained access, probably using a search warrant, to Ms. Broadwell’s Gmail account. There they found messages that turned out to be from Mr. Petraeus.”
So what permitted them to open email from Petraeus. What was even the point of doing so? Did they even need to get a warrant?
Since it is now being claimed that charges will probably not be filed against Broadwell, this whole investigation was a wasted of time and resources. It had nothing to do with keeping us safe.
But it gets worse. What about the need for our agencies to “work together” for us to be kept safe from the terrorists? Obviously, if the FBI is immersing the DCI in scandal it is not cooperating in a substantial way. It is competing with the Agency.
I’m not unhappy that the weird bizarre life of the rich and powerful is coming to light. But the idea that these people, with their infighting and bizarre morality, are in charge of keeping us safe and establishing democracy overseas is a frightening one.
The fact that they so easily spy on us is even more frightening.