Not many people are buying the FBI's explanations for misusing the Patriot Act. They think, reasonably, that so many lapses might indicate an attitude problem rather than simple procedural errors:
Mr. Mueller emphasized that the report determined that the lapses were a result of errors rather than criminal or malicious intent, that apparently no person or business was harmed and that the inspector general, Glenn A. Fine, agreed that the national security letters were a vital tool in the post-Sept. 11 world.
But he conceded that the abuses, however unintentional, were contrary to American traditions of law and respect for privacy. And even if the actual number of mistakes is relatively small, “nonetheless it is a serious problem,” he said, promising to do whatever he could to reassure skeptics on Capitol Hill.
A distinction should be made between law-enforcement's misuse of certain laws and whether or not those laws are in fact justifiable. In fact, the greatest danger in letting agents use the law so haphazardly without checks and balances is that it makes it so much harder for reasonable people to draw the line between security and civil liberties in the right place. Outrage over abuse of a security measure might lead us to abandon a security measure we really need.