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FBI's Authority to See What Americans Read

May 13, 2003

Re "Pulling FBI's Nose Out of Your Books," Commentary, May 8: By way of background, I spent 23 years as a "street agent" with the FBI and have some experience in foreign counterintelligence and counter-terrorism investigations. It is unfortunate that Vermont Rep. Bernie Sanders, an independent, has no idea about what is involved in a counterintelligence or terrorism investigation. If the objective of a counter-terrorism investigation is to identify those with a propensity for terrorism, one avenue of approach might be to see if the individual has an inordinate interest in explosives, toxins or what have you.

Why some people constantly impute evil motives to the dedicated men and women of the FBI and others but always seem to excuse the behavior of truly malevolent individuals is beyond my powers of comprehension, however small they may be.

James Hardy



Thank you for publishing Sanders' commentary on his Freedom to Read Protection Act, legislation written to counter one of the many egregious abuses of civil rights passed into law with the USA Patriot Act. As a citizen gravely concerned about the enhanced powers the act gives to federal law enforcement agencies -- whose powers in direct proportion diminish the freedoms and liberties of every American -- I applaud Sanders' efforts to rein in the overly zealous Justice Department.

I am comforted to know that some in Congress consider the freedoms and liberties on which this country was founded to be sacred and acknowledge that snooping unchecked into the reading habits of its citizenry is not the way to ensure the country's security.

Michael Diehl


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