New York Times editorial: Misdirected Snooping Doesn’t Stop Terror
When Attorney General John Ashcroft announced last week that he has freed F.B.I. agents from restrictions on counterterrorism investigations, he no doubt hoped to ease the concerns of Americans alarmed by F.B.I. blunders before Sept. 11. But the mistakes that kept the F.B.I. from picking up on hints of the violence to come arose from a failure of vision, not an absence of legal authority. The agency needs to focus on terrorist crime; it doesn’t need to indulge in wasteful and undemocratic monitoring of legitimate political and religious activity.