Is Congress Creating a Secret Police Force?

Here are the relevant sections of the 2007 Intelligence Authorization Act referenced in my “police state” post below:

The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency may issue regulations to allow personnel designated to carry out protective functions for the Central Intelligence Agency under section 5(a)(4) of the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 (50 U.S.C. 403f) to, while engaged in such protective functions, make arrests without a warrant for any offense against the United States committed in the presence of such personnel, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States, if such personnel have probable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing that felony offense.

Further down, the bill clarifies the powers of agents of the National Security Agency:

The Director of the National Security Agency may issue regulations to allow personnel designated to carry out protective functions for the Agency to–

(1) carry firearms; and

(2) make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in the presence of such personnel, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States, if such personnel have probable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing that felony offense.

(Emphases mine.)

Excuse me, but why do operatives of the CIA and NSA need the authority to make arrests? Without warrants? Especially when the arrests are authorized for any felony, not just for activities related to terrorism?

Am I overreacting, or is a government with the power to spy on me, enter and search my home, and arrest me–all without a warrant–something to worry about?

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6 responses to “Is Congress Creating a Secret Police Force?

  1. For one, it expedites the apprehension process.
    If a CIA or NSA operative witnesses a crime, they can make an arrest themselves and get a criminal off the streets.
    If they didn’t have this authority, when they witnessed a crime, they’d have to call local law enforcement officers to make the arrest. And getting an officer to respond can take time that the operative might not have.

    Law enforcement officers do not need a warrant to make an arrest. They need probable cause or to have actually witnessed the suspect committing the crime. Warrants are used after a crime has been committed and a suspect named. Warrants allow law enforcement officers more leeway in apprehending a suspect: warrants can allow law enforcement to enter a residence or vehicle without permission, search the residence or vehicle, etc.

    The sections quoted above don’t include any language about entering or searching a home or vehicle without a warrant – they just five the operatives arrest powers, just like local law enforcement.

  2. Yes, it expedites the apprehension process. That’s what worries me.

    CIA and NSA operatives are trained in intelligence gathering, not law enforcement. This is a huge change in the legal authority of CIA and NSA operatives.

    Although I didn’t cite the section above, the bill makes it clear that the NSA has the legal authority to spy on American citizens. So now our intelligence agencies have legal cover to listen in on your phone calls and arrest you — without a warrant.

  3. I don’t like the listening in without a warrant part –
    but apart from that, if an operative hears a suspect planning to commit some terrible crime in the next few minutes or hours, I would hope he would have the power to arrest the suspect right there rather than let the crime be committed in the the time it takes to obtain a warrant for an arrest.
    Again, not fond of the listening in without a warrant in the first place though.
    I’m all for arrest powers – domestic spying powers I have a problem with.

  4. Here’s the other aspect that worries me: This effectively creates a police force that operates outside the bounds of the Department of Justice, answerable only to the Director of National Intelligence (currently John Negroponte).

    If an operative of the NSA arrests someone for a felony, which can be any felony, remember, not just one related to terrorism, where is the arrested person taken? City jail? County lockup? State penitentiary?

    Gitmo?

  5. I would hope if an NSA or CIA operative makes an arrest, he would have to go through the local booking procedures, whatever they may be.

    But who knows where this police state might be headed. If the CIA or NSA arrests you, you could disappear forever.

  6. Pingback: The Gun Toting Liberal » Blog Archive » Where the GOP brings strength to our great nation

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