Post article criticized by FBI
A Washington Post article about the FBI’s expanded power to collect the private records of ordinary Americans in the name of conducting terrorism and espionage investigations has been criticized by Justice Department officials.
The Nov. 6 article detailed the dramatic increase in the use of “national security letters,” a three-decade-old investigative tool that was given new life with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in 2001.
The records of ordinary Americans’ personal financial transactions, telephone calls, consumer purchases and Web site visits can be obtained relatively easily from businesses by federal authorities with the letters, issued by FBI field supervisors and a few headquarters officials.
Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella said the report incorrectly claimed the FBI uses the letters to spy on law-abiding Americans, saying instead such letters are limited to information relevant to anti-terrorism investigations.
Blizzard strands travelers
Travelers trying to get home after Thanksgiving were stranded across the Great Plains Monday as the region’s first big snowstorm of the season closed hundreds of miles of highways, cutting visibility to zero and piling up drifts six feet high, according to The Washington Post.
Snow driven by winds as high as 69 mph fell from North Dakota to the Texas Panhandle, shutting down schools and government offices. The South Dakota state government was entirely shut down.
The same storm whipped up tornadoes that destroyed at least eight houses in Arkansas on Sunday and damaged more than 30 homes in Fort Riley, Kan.
Grass fires driven by the wind blackened thousands of acres in Texas and Oklahoma.