September 05, 2002
Smart Letters

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer today had a nice riposte to an idiotic letter published on August 25th. Before I quote the letter, let me set up some background.

The P-I printed this article about wiretaps and the FBI on August 23rd. The article contained these two graphs, near the end of the piece:

The court said the FBI admitted in September 2000 to mistakes in 75 wiretap applications, including then-FBI Director Freeh's erroneous statement to judges that the target of a wiretap request wasn't also under criminal investigation.

The court also noted that in March 2000, information from espionage wiretaps in at least four cases was passed illegally to FBI criminal investigators and U.S. prosecutors in New York. Clearly frustrated, the court said it barred one FBI agent from appearing before it.

This article, including the above two paragraphs, inspired this reply:

Now that the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has slapped the hands of John Ashcroft, the Justice Department and the FBI, it appears the concerns of flaming liberals have come to pass.
Wide unchecked police powers will eventually be abused. For those of us who have never trusted Ashcroft, this judicial rebuke underscores why we don't.
Individuals who espouse unwarranted secretiveness, an outspoken desire for unlimited powers and a history of obfuscation need to be watched closely. Unfortunately for Americans, the president, vice president and attorney general all fit that description.
Alan Cook

Today's letter slaps the first one down by pointing out a few facts:

On the Aug. 25 Letters to the Editor page, Alan Cook writes, "Now that the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has slapped the hands of John Ashcroft, the Justice Department and the FBI. ... "
It is too bad Cook did not do some investigation before writing his letter. A simple Web check will find out the facts. The 75 cases the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court reported on were all committed before September 2000. Who was the head of the Justice Department then? Janet Reno. Who was found to have lied in one of the cases? FBI Director Louis Freeh. Who was president? Bill Clinton.
To paraphrase Cook: Unfortunately for Americans, the president (Bill Clinton), vice president (Al Gore) and attorney general (Janet Reno) all fit the description of individuals who espouse unwarranted secretiveness and a history of obfuscation.
Ray Goforth

A Google search shows that Mr. Cook is not a fan of the current administration by any stretch of the imagination. This May 26th letter to the Seattle Times has him fulminating over Vice President Cheney; conversely this letter has him praising the Blue Angels and Seafair (Seattle's annual community/maritime/military festival), although not the timing.

Mr Goforth, interestingly enough, is probably also not much of a fan of the current administration. His personal site includes his curriculum vitae, and between his work for Greenpeace and a Union local, his "Progressive Law Student" page, and his internet 'zine Social Justice, he doesn't appear to be a right-wing ideologue. Apparently, Mr. Goforth feels that the truth trumps ideological considerations, a refreshing change of pace.

posted on September 05, 2002 06:57 PM


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