Congress is poised to approve new legislation that amounts to the first substantive expansion of the controversial USA Patriot Act since it was approved just after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
Acting at the Bush administration’s behest, a joint House-Senate conference committee has approved a provision in the 2004 Intelligence Authorization bill that will permit the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI (news – web sites)) to demand records from a number of businesses–without the approval of a judge or grand jury–if it deems them relevant to a counter-terrorism investigation.
The measure would extend the FBI’s power to seize records from banks and credit unions to securities dealers, currency exchanges, travel agencies, car dealers, post offices, casinos, pawnbrokers and any other business that, according to the government, has a “high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax or regulatory matters.” Such seizures could be carried out with the approval of the judicial branch of government.
The provision not only permits the FBI to seize records from more kinds of businesses; it also forbids businesses from informing their clients about the seizures.
Now…considering that the Feds are already using the Patriot Act to convict garden variety drug dealers and titty bar owners…can you imagine who’s next on the chopping block? Consider this, the US has more people in prison than any other western nation in the world. But look at it this way, at least you’ll still be able to contribute to some company making a fortune while you’re in prison. (the following links lifted from MetaFilter)
Looking for a job? Well, one of the hot temp agencies in the nation is FPI, Inc. Recruiting from an active base of some 80,000 people across the nation, and enjoying exemption from competitive bidding (although reform is on the way), FPI produces garments and textile goods. In fact, it’s the largest supplier of clothing and textiles for the U.S. government. Net sales for fiscal year 2001 were $583.5 million and, despite an economic shortfall, they rose to $678.7 million in 2002. What accounts for such an unlikely success? Well, the secret can be found in FPI’s labor base. FPI only employs prisoners, paying them between $.23 and $1.15 an hour. Of course, with so many resumes to choose from, factory expansion and rising sales figures and profitability (PDF), who knows just how high PDI’s luster will soar?