Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Wednesday, January 28, 2004

A sure-fire way to discover nationally unreported but highly interesting regional news vanished when the C-SPAN Journal ended the daily open phone segment.
Without getting into the why and what if of the C-SPAN decision, I am happy to say that some callers still manage to work a little free speech into the relatively recent pre-selected topic format.
Yesterday, in my post about the Secret Service investigation of Brooklyn, New York resident Kit Kinsman and her Karl Rove parody website, I made brief mention of inappropriate FBI usage of the Patriot Act in a Reno bribery investigation.
A C-SPAN caller mentioned the case Monday morning and I later typed a few relevant words into Google.
A November 5, 2003 news account in the Reno Review-Journal said:

The investigation of strip club owner Michael Galardi and numerous politicians appears to be the first time federal authorities have used the Patriot Act in a public corruption probe?"I don't know that it's been used in a public corruption case before this," said Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the Justice Department?Sources said the FBI sought the records under Section 314 of the act. That section allows federal investigators to obtain information from any financial institution regarding the accounts of people "engaged in or reasonably suspected, based on credible evidence, of engaging in terrorist acts or money laundering activities?? Corallo said federal law enforcement officials have no qualms about using the act to pursue an array of criminal investigations that have nothing to do with terrorism, such as child pornography, drug trafficking and money laundering.

This same Reno Review-Journal article had reaction from Nevada Senator Harry Reid and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley:

"The law was intended for activities related to terrorism and not to naked women," said Reid, who as minority whip is the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate?Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said she was preparing an inquiry to the FBI about its guidelines for using the Patriot Act in cases that don't involve terrorism. The law makes it easy for citizens' rights to be abused, she said. "It was never my intention that the Patriot Act be used for garden-variety crimes and investigations," Berkley said.

What, exactly, prompted the Secret Service investigation of a young Dean volunteer and her comedy website?
Was someone intending to serve revenge or did someone really think Kinsman was flashing secret terrorist messages with her altered photographs of Karl as a snowman or wearing a thong?
Was there really a need for a federal intrusion in the Reno bribery case?
Or, was it merely a generous interpretation of Section 314 of the Patriot Act coupled with certain federal officials having no qualms about using the act to pursue an array of criminal investigations that have nothing to do with terrorism?
To use a Daily Howler device, I do not have a clue.
A qualm-inducing Washington Post article this morning quotes our old friend Department of Justice spokesman Mark Corallo reacting to a report released yesterday by the agency's inspector general:

It is clear that the government has been thoroughly responsible in its implementation of the act.

Photos: DOJ,C-SPAN,,
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