There’s no mention of religion in Barton Gellman‘s brilliant, terrifying Washington Post report, “The FBI’s Secret Scrutiny,” but there doesn’t need to be for it to merit discussion on The Revealer. Gellman explains how the Patriot Act has fostered the explosive growth in the use of “national security letters” allowing the FBI to investigate — without oversight — just about anyone, for anything, and to not only keep that information on file, but to share it with anyone.
This is particularly bad news for journalists who ask tough questions. Say you’ve interviewed an imam, and the FBI decides to conduct not an investigation, but merely a “threat assesment” on another person who attends that mosque, simply because on his vacation he visits his family in Yemen. According to the new rules, the FBI can investigate all three — gather records of every economic transaction you’ve been involved in, every book you’ve borrowed, every video you’ve rented. And they can go to your employer and demand records of your every move, without explaining why.
Civil liberties activists are already on the case. Will religious liberties activists get involved as well?