Yesterday, FBI director Robert Mueller expressed a preference that Internet Service Providers preserve customer Web use records for quite some time.
His reasons: to assist in terrorism probe investigations as well as child pornography and predator-related matters.
"Terrorists coordinate their plans cloaked in the anonymity of the Internet, as do violent sexual predators prowling chat rooms," Mueller said in a speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Boston.
"All too often, we find that before we can catch these offenders, Internet service providers have unwittingly deleted the very records that would help us identify these offenders and protect future victims," Mueller said. "We must find a balance between the legitimate need for privacy and law enforcement's clear need for access."
There's no dispute that we need to crack down on child porn, child molesters and terrorists. But at least insofar as terrorism is concerned, I believe the best defense is pre-emptive.
I wonder why it is, then, that the same FBI seems unable to attract and recruit agents with formidable skills in some of the languages spoken in nations where international terrorists often come from.
Agents who could infiltrate domestic Jihadist circles with as much aplomb as FBI G-men of yore were able to penetrate anti-Vietnam War groups.
Maybe it is because of our foreign policy that we can't attract native speakers of some languages used by terrorists. Even if, as must be pointed out, the vast, vast majority of Farsi, Pashto and Arabic speakers in the U.S.are loyal Americans.
Last week, the Washington Post pointed out that:
"Five years after Arab terrorists attacked the United States, only 33 FBI agents have even a limited proficiency in Arabic, and none of them work in the sections of the bureau that coordinate investigations of international terrorism, according to new FBI statistics.
"Counting agents who know only a handful of Arabic words -- including those who scored zero on a standard proficiency test -- just 1 percent of the FBI's 12,000 agents have any familiarity with the language, the statistics show.
So now the FBI wants my ISP to stash my Web surfing and email records because - unlike Scotland Yard and their plot-cracking competencies- they lack the skills to find out about terror plots before they are unleashed?
Not with my browser you don't!