More power, Mr. Ashcroft?

Washington Post: Government Will Ease Limits on Domestic Spying. Here’s a nice little erosion for your morning coffee: “Mr. Ashcroft and Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, plan to announce on Thursday a broad loosening of the guidelines that restrict the surveillance of religious and political organizations, the officials said.”

Thank God for that voice of sanity, the ACLU (and no, that’s not sarcastic):

Officials at the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the new guidelines, saying they represent another step by the Bush administration to roll back civil-liberties protections in the name of improving counterterrorism measures.

“These new guidelines say to the American people that you no longer have to be doing something wrong in order to get that F.B.I. knock at your door,” Laura W. Murphy, director of the national office of the A.C.L.U., said. “The government is rewarding failure. It seems when the F.B.I. fails, the response by the Bush administration is to give the bureau new powers, as opposed to seriously look at why the intelligence and law enforcement failures occurred.”

Seems to me that after the leaks about what the government knew before the September 11 attacks, giving the FBI more data to analyze is the last thing we need to do, regardless of whether it impinges on our personal freedoms or not (and it does, it does!).

How about this: the FBI gets ZERO new powers until it proves it can get useful data from the ones it already has.