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Audit Finds FBI Abused Patriot Act 341

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the watching-the-watchers dept.
happyslayer writes to mention that according to Yahoo! News a recent audit shows that the FBI has improperly and in some cases illegally utilized the Patriot Act to obtain information. "The audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found that FBI agents sometimes demanded personal data on individuals without proper authorization. The 126-page audit also found the FBI improperly obtained telephone records in non-emergency circumstances. The audit blames agent error and shoddy record-keeping for the bulk of the problems and did not find any indication of criminal misconduct. Still, 'we believe the improper or illegal uses we found involve serious misuses of national security letter authorities,' the audit concludes."
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Audit Finds FBI Abused Patriot Act

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  • by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@@@gmail...com> on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:33PM (#18293512)
    What are the chances that anyone will ever - ever - be arrested over this?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stratjakt (596332)
      ...did not find any indication of criminal misconduct.

      No chance at all.
      • by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@@@gmail...com> on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:47PM (#18293724)
        Being woefully ignorant of the proper legal routes you're supposed to take doesn't exempt you from being held responsible if and when you don't take those routes. This article just says that they didn't intentionally break the law, but I don't see any difference.
        • by walt-sjc (145127) on Friday March 09, 2007 @05:10PM (#18294040)
          The difference is "intent". Intent plays a large part in many of the criminal laws. For example - did you lose control over your car and accidentally kill a pedestrian on the sidewalk or did you intend to mow them down in a fit of rage...

          Of course intent isn't everything, and being ignorant of laws doesn't always protect you from the consequences either.

          If anything at all comes out of this, it will be limited to discussion and that's about it. MAYBE it will get a few congressmen hot under the collar and debate the merits and abuses of the unPatriotic Act. I seriously doubt any repealing or scaling back will happen however.
          • That's a good point. With deaths, you have to prove "criminal negligence" in order to prosecute for an accidental killing. With not-so-serious charges, you don't need intent, though. How did this happen?

            Try and recall the last time you heard of a guy getting off for not knowing drug possession or zoning violations or drinking coffee on the train was illegal.
        • by Twanfox (185252) on Friday March 09, 2007 @05:13PM (#18294068)
          When common citizens can get arrested and prosecuted in spite of ignorance of the law, then so can the enforcers of the law, the ones SPECIFICALLY in charge of enforcing and utilizing the law to safeguard the lives of the citizens. To say the FBI is ignorant of the law can be considered far worse than a citizen not being informed of it, simply because the FBI lives and breathes by what laws are currently enforceable.
          • by M_Cheevy (629827) on Friday March 09, 2007 @05:51PM (#18294526)
            There is a way to smack them other than criminal charges. Unless it was repealed during the post 9/11 orgy of civil rights abuses, Section 1984 of Chapter 15 of the US Code states that a government official is personally financially responsible for double damages if they violate the civil rights of a citizen. This probably came out of the 60s Civil Rights movement to prevent southern officals from keeping blacks out of the voting booths -- a necessary thing at the time. Now it can be used to protect people against abuses of the Patriot Act -- but only if they know they've been victimised.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Digital Vomit (891734)

            When common citizens can get arrested and prosecuted in spite of ignorance of the law, then so can the enforcers of the law, the ones SPECIFICALLY in charge of enforcing and utilizing the law to safeguard the lives of the citizens.

            You haven't been in a Western democracy for very long, have you?

        • Thats true in other countries. In the US its different and noone will even get a slap on the wrist.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Score Whore (32328)
          No the article says there is no indication of criminal misconduct. It has zero to do with intent. It has nothing to do with knowledge. It has everything to do with criminal vs. not criminal. There certainly was misconduct, but there also apparently was not criminal misconduct. If you can't understand that you need to go have a serious talk with your parents and teachers for failing to teach you to read.
      • by operagost (62405) on Friday March 09, 2007 @05:13PM (#18294062) Homepage Journal
        Depends on whether you are Democrat [cnn.com] or Republican [dailysouthtown.com].
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:37PM (#18293590) Homepage

      What are the chances that anyone will ever - ever - be arrested over this?

      Arrested as a product of the illegal activity, or arrested for performing the illegal activity?

      The former has probably already happened, the latter is probably unlikely (summary says no criminal misconduct).

      You didn't really think they would get in trouble for abusing the law we've all been saying has huge potential for abuse, did you?

      While they might make policy that says internally they need to do things correctly in the future, I doubt that will prevent them from obtaining information on a whim because it's expedient. But, I'm a cynic about such things, hopefully I'm wrong. :-P

      Cheers
      • Define abuse...? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by raehl (609729) <raehl311@@@yahoo...com> on Friday March 09, 2007 @05:36PM (#18294332) Homepage
        Not all abuse is the same, and we should be clear here as to what the FBI actually did and didn't do. A good analogy here is that an FBI agent using their service firearm to unjustly shoot and kill a civilian is different from FBI agents failing to keep track of which agents have which guns and make sure they return them when they leave the agency. One case you expect criminal prosecution and the other case you'd expect some administrative action.

        Same here. No one is alleging that the FBI used these Patriot Act powers outside of their intended purpose. What the FBI didn't do, that they should have, was properly account for the letters they did use, specifically, properly count the number used, and properly follow up with the recipients of the letters.

        So yes, if FBI agents were using this power to get information that the law was not designed for them to get, then I'd expect criminal prosecution. But, as it appears is the case, the FBI just didn't properly ACCOUNT for the letters they did use, an administrative penalty seems perfectly sufficient to address the problem.

        That all, of course, is separate from the issue of whether this law should exist at all (it shouldn't).
        • by Anonymous Coward

          The spokesperson of the Justice department has conceded that abuses have occurred. He categorized them as being ``small in number'' and asserted that ``it appears'' that no harm was done to either individual persons or corporations.

          So your analogy isn't very apt; it's more like a police bureau not only not tracking the issuing of bureau firearms to officers but saying that it didn't keep track and in a large number of situations they have been fired in situations that did not warrant that extent of force

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Score Whore (32328)
          What should be worrying you is not which FBI agents are improperly access information, but rather which private investigators are pretending to be FBI agents and submitting national security letters to get information for use in civil proceedings. With a paragraph attached informing the bank, telco, whatever that discussing the letter will result in jail or significant fines. Nobody is even aware that these things are being passed around. The FBI doesn't hear because the banks aren't talking, as required by
    • by mordors9 (665662)
      Little if any chance. That isn't the way, we in the US have generally handled these situations. If the FBI agents improperly got information that was used in a prosecution, the defense can move to have the case thrown out, or at least any evidence that they collected as a result of this infraction be thrown out. If the trial is already over, it could give the defense grounds to try to get a new trials.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        Assuming that the FBI lets everyone know who was illegally spied on--which they almost certainly WON'T.

        -Eric

        • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday March 09, 2007 @05:11PM (#18294050) Homepage Journal
          In fact that's part of the PATRIOT act: You're not even allowed to find out if they've been abusing the act. Whistleblowing abuses of the PATRIOT act is a crime under the PATRIOT act.
          • by j-turkey (187775) on Friday March 09, 2007 @05:29PM (#18294250) Homepage

            In fact that's part of the PATRIOT act: You're not even allowed to find out if they've been abusing the act. Whistleblowing abuses of the PATRIOT act is a crime under the PATRIOT act.

            The first rule of the USA PATRIOT act is that you do not talk about the USA PATRIOT act...

            ;)

    • cops hardly ever give speeding tickets to other cops.

    • by kinglink (195330)
      Essentially the same as people not blaming bush for this even though he doesn't run the FBI himself, or the democratic party completely ignoring this. Slim, not exactly none, but not visible by the human eye.
    • by HermMunster (972336) on Friday March 09, 2007 @06:03PM (#18294634)
      And you want to tell me how over 140,000+ people were suspected of terrorism or affiliated to it, in the USA?
    • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Friday March 09, 2007 @06:27PM (#18294946) Homepage
      Sibel Edmonds, while employed at the FBI as a translator, determined that the FBI employed spies for various Turkish organized crime groups as translators who concealed important evidence in FBI investigations.

      She further discovered that "senior elected US officials" were implicated by these documents in direct involvement with organized crime groups in the Middle East and Turkey involved in drugs, arms smuggling, and the nuclear materials black market. These same people were involved with the outing of CIA covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson, apparently for the purpose of protecting these same organized crime groups which Plame's covert operation was investigating. (Marc Rich, the alleged "money man" for some of these organizations, was a client of "Scooter" Libby at one time.)

      For these discoveries, she was fired and gagged by a direct order from the DoJ from ever discussing these matters with anyone not in the US Senate with a security clearance. So far, no one in the US Senate has had the balls to come forward and request the details.

      When I was arrested by the FBI, I was presented with a document they requested me to sign before interrogation. The document expressly stated that I would waive all rights to an attorney before questioning. I pointed this out to the agent. He said, "No, it doesn't mean that." I pointed out that I could read and understand English perfectly well, and there was no caveat whatsoever anywhere on that paper that said anything other than that I waived all rights to an attorney.

      I refused to sign. They stomped off. My Miranda rights were secured.

      Anybody who thinks the FBI adheres to ANY form of "rule of law" is living in a dream world.

      Such people need to look at the Federal court decisions that ruled that the FBI engaged in YEARS of illegal "black bag" jobs and other illegal operations against the American Indian Movement.

      Such people need to look back at the 1960's when the FBI printed up posters of Abbie Hoffman and other activists of Jewish background accusing them of being Jews who were racist against blacks and had these posters plastered all over black neighborhoods in Harlem and elsewhere.

      Such people need to look at the case of the Federal prison inmate who was beaten to death in the Oklahoma City transit center by two Bureau of Prisons correctional officers. The Oklahoma coroner had to get a court order to be allowed in to investigate the case. The FBI was called. One of the agents took the bloodstained garments of the prisoner, threw them in the trunk of his car and drove around with them, destroying their value as evidence, until he eventually complained to his supervisor that they were stinking up his car.

      The FBI are the scum of the earth. The only lower scum are Bureau of Prisons correctional personnel. In fact, this is being detrimental to the reputation of earth scum to put these people on the same level.

      • by jc42 (318812) on Friday March 09, 2007 @07:45PM (#18295686) Homepage Journal
        Anybody who thinks the FBI adheres to ANY form of "rule of law" is living in a dream world. ... need to look back at the 1960's ...

        Or even better, look back to the 1920's, and the founding of the FBI. A good start is to google for "Palmer raids", for an explanation of how and why the FBI came into existence.

        The FBI started as a political agency, and it has remained one throughout its history. The idea that it's a law-enforcement investigative agency comes mostly from Hollywood.

        The fun thing is that none of this is hidden. People who read actual history rather than watch TV and movies tend to be quite aware of this history. But there's no need to hide it from the general population, since most Americans don't read any history at all.

  • no surprise there (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jacquesm (154384) <j&ww,com> on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:34PM (#18293536) Homepage
    I mean, seriously does anybody really feel any surprise at all when reading this ?

    And if so what drug are you on ...

    Law enforcement agencies will abuse any law to get the maximum leverage that they
    can, it does not matter that the laws they use were not originally intended for
    the purpose they are being used for.

    In NL we only recently got the obligation to carry ID, ostensibly to fight heavy
    criminals that would not ID themselves. Of course now you can get arrested a
    lot easier for say being a jogger and having no ID on you.

    And that has already happened to a lot of people, but not to the so called heavy
    criminals.

    if you want to stop this trend I'm afraid it will take a lot more than a vote in
    a ballot box at some point.

    if that is still possible...

    • by stratjakt (596332) on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:42PM (#18293654) Journal
      The thing is, people work in agencies, and people have agendas, and people sometimes make mistakes.

      Cops screw up all the time, with the best of intentions. I know an officer who made a traffic stop, and searched the trunk based on an exhaust leak he noticed (they can bypass the right to an unlawful search in cases like these, safety trumps it). Trunk had two kilos of cocaine, perp gets off because the judge decided the search was unlawful.

      A lot of these guys really are out there trying to catch the bad guys, or just trying to get ahead in their careers. We all take shortcuts in our jobs and to reach our goals, and when you're on the street, with a bust so close you can feel it - and the only thing stopping you is what you percieve as "beurocratic red tape", it's easy to slip up.

      I'm not defending them, just offering some more rational explanation other than "da govment is out to get us". It's people that screwed up, in the end.
      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:46PM (#18293718)

        I know an officer who made a traffic stop, and searched the trunk based on an exhaust leak he noticed (they can bypass the right to an unlawful search in cases like these, safety trumps it). Trunk had two kilos of cocaine, perp gets off because the judge decided the search was unlawful.

        That's probably because that judge knows a load of bullshit when he hears it. I mean, seriously, he decided to search the trunk because he noticed an exhaust leak?!?! Give me a break.

        -Eric

        • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:55PM (#18293854)

          That's probably because that judge knows a load of bullshit when he hears it. I mean, seriously, he decided to search the trunk because he noticed an exhaust leak?!?! Give me a break.

          There could've been deadly metal-burrowing acid moles in there. Those devils will dissolve the flesh right offa yer bones. That perp was a lucky S.O.B. that the cop was so observant.

        • by Rude Turnip (49495) <[valuation] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday March 09, 2007 @05:02PM (#18293956)
          "That's probably because that judge knows a load of bullshit when he hears it."

          The judge was probably pissed because his regular delivery didn't arrive :-)
      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday March 09, 2007 @05:01PM (#18293930) Homepage Journal

        Cops screw up all the time, with the best of intentions. I know an officer who made a traffic stop, and searched the trunk based on an exhaust leak he noticed (they can bypass the right to an unlawful search in cases like these, safety trumps it). Trunk had two kilos of cocaine, perp gets off because the judge decided the search was unlawful.

        There's nothing in the trunk that has anything to do with an exhaust leak. In addition, you can't actually tell if a car has an exhaust leak until you stop it, unless you go past it with open windows and hear the characteristic sound. The clouds of smoke could come from any number of sources. Once I got pulled over for excessive smoke because I had spilled some oil on my exhaust manifold while adding to my crankcase.

        Thus this is a clear violation of authority, and a clearly illegal search.

        A lot of these guys really are out there trying to catch the bad guys, or just trying to get ahead in their careers. We all take shortcuts in our jobs and to reach our goals, and when you're on the street, with a bust so close you can feel it - and the only thing stopping you is what you percieve as "beurocratic red tape", it's easy to slip up.

        Police have a responsibility to be more, well, responsible than "normal citizens" because they have more power. With power comes responsibility.

        This is why it is simply not acceptable for any cop to ever break any law. Period. I realize that's impossible, and it's why I told the CHP officer who pulled me over and tried to talk me into applying to work for the CHP (after he already had written out my ticket, for something I didn't do, what a fucking asshole) that I felt that the law is simply the arms of a corrupt system that I don't want to be a part of. He'd already written the ticket, so what did I have to lose? And of course I have convictions. And I don't mean legal ones :P

        But regardless, if someone isn't willing to live within the law, they shouldn't be a cop. And we should never let cops off when they do break the law. It's fucking hypocritical.

        I'm not defending them, just offering some more rational explanation other than "da govment is out to get us". It's people that screwed up, in the end.

        you are the government
        you are jurisprudence
        you are the volition
        you are jurisdiction
        and I make a difference too [lyricsdepot.com]

        • Wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

          by alexo (9335)

          With power comes responsibility.


          No.
          With power comes the desire for more power.

      • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Friday March 09, 2007 @05:33PM (#18294306) Homepage Journal
        I'd rather let someone with 2 kilo's of cocain get away then give up my right to be free of random searchs.
      • by terrymr (316118)
        There's no logical progression from "I think there's an exhaust leak" to "I need to search the trunk". The exhaust system is on the outside of the car.

        If we allow the evidence gained from an illegal search made with good intentions - we have to allow the evidence from illegal searches made with bad intentions too. What good is it having laws against illegal searches if the fruits of an illegal search can still be used against you ?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        "just trying to get ahead in their careers"

        Exactly.

        These FUCKS were do ANYTHING no matter HOW illegal it is to "get ahead in their careers."

        And YOU don't see anything wrong with that?

        What police department do YOU work for?

        I knew an inmate at Leavenworth who was working on appealing his case. He was convicted on the basis of a search warrant which was served off-premises of the address the warrant was for, which was "issued" based on the cop's report of a "drug sale" which never happened, and on "lab results
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BSAtHome (455370)
      Power corrupts; no matter who you give it to.
    • by Grinin (1050028) on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:53PM (#18293826) Homepage
      I couldn't agree more...

      All this government has to do is use the word "terrorist" in a sentence and all of your civil liberties are thrown out a window. In fact, by me writing this, I'm sure it has been flagged on some ISP/Government computer somewhere and they will notice its just another user bad mouthing big brother. Its disturbing how we must all sit idly by and watch as all of our rights continue to be diminished... Hopefully something will change and soon.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cheezedawg (413482)

        All this government has to do is use the word "terrorist" in a sentence and all of your civil liberties are thrown out a window.
        I have no idea how you could reach that conclusion based on this story- it proves the exact opposite! Law enforcement was trying to overstep their authority in the name of anti-terrorism, but the oversight in place caught on and the FBI got nailed.

        This is exactly how our system is supposed to work. This is good news.
    • by operagost (62405)

      In NL we only recently got the obligation to carry ID
      Where is "NL"? The Netherlands?
  • And this is news because...Just what did the framers of this law think would happen. You give people tools they will use them regardless of the intended purpose.
  • by ||Deech|| (16749) on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:36PM (#18293560)


    Funny. I seem to recall a lot of screaming about the possibility for abuse and I distinctly recall being told to shut the fuck up, we can *trust* them to do the right thing.

    pfft.

    • by raehl (609729)
      Funny. I seem to recall a lot of screaming about the possibility for abuse and I distinctly recall being told to shut the fuck up, we can *trust* them to do the right thing.

      The problem with this whole discussion is that it's about the FBI failing to keep track of how many letters they issued.

      So now the government is saying "We'll keep better track of how many letters we issue, problem solved!"

      NO! PROBLEM NOT SOLVED!

      The *REAL* problem is that the government can compel release of private information WITHOUT A
  • Accountable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whoever57 (658626) on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:36PM (#18293566) Journal

    "I am to be held accountable," Mueller said. He told reporters he would correct the problems and did not plan to resign.
    In what way is he to be held accountable? He expects to keep his job, presumably also pay, pension, benefits, etc. Where is the accountability?
    • by idontgno (624372)

      Where is the accountability?

      Well... ummm...

      He expects to keep his job, presumably also pay, pension, benefits, etc.

      It take accounting to keep track of all that money. So clearly, at least that part of his professional existence continues to be accountable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Welcome to the new phenomenon of the Twenty-First Century: Accountability Light!

      Only half the consequences of old-fashioned accountability!

      Look at the advantages: Less embarassment! More job security! Freedom to make critical mistakes without having to pay for them!

      (Only available for cabinet-level Federal employees)
    • In what way is he to be held accountable?

      It's an interesting comment.

      "I am to be held accountable". Suppose he is not fired, and furthermore, our criminal justice system fails to hold him accountable through some appropriate punishment such as a life sentence... it seems then that by Mueller's own comment, the onus must ultimately fall on us, the citizens, to hold him accountable somehow. I have to applaud the man for at least having the conscience to demand punishment for something so unforgivable.
      • by walt-sjc (145127)
        I'm all for giving people a second chance to redeem themselves, and everyone makes mistakes, but our civil liberties are at stake here. I would rather see him and everyone else involved go.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kawolski (939414)

      In what way is he to be held accountable? He expects to keep his job, presumably also pay, pension, benefits, etc. Where is the accountability?
      He's going to have one sore wrist tomorrow. He might even get slapped twice!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by amRadioHed (463061)
      I guess it's kinda like the way Rumsfeld took responsibility for the prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib.
  • .....water is wet. The sky is blue. The FBI abused a law.

    What's next? Libarachi was gay? Say it ain't so!

  • They needed an audit to find this out? It seemed readily apparent from the beginning that not only the FBI, but the entire government was "misusing" the Patriot Act.
  • by CyberLord Seven (525173) on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:38PM (#18293596)
    Seems fitting.

    I guess, maybe we can't trust those in power.

    Welcome back, Tricky Dick!

  • by Jaywalk (94910) on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:39PM (#18293618) Homepage

    "There is no excuse for the mistakes that have been made, and we are going to make things right as quickly as possible," the attorney general said.
    And this time, we mean it!
  • by Caspian (99221) on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:41PM (#18293644)
    The act ITSELF was an abuse.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As a citizen of the People's Republic of China, let me be the first to say this is just another example of what a hoax America's so-called "free democracy" is. What has it gotten you? Constatn surveillance by your own government, a ballooning national debt, an endless, unwinnable war in the middle east, and the withering contempt of all other nations of the world.

    I'd bet my Party membership that any randomly chosen citzen of the PRC is happier, healthier, and more truly free than an citizen of the USA.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Run over & crushed any student protesters with tanks lately?
    • by operagost (62405)

      ha ha
      You misspelled "han han."
  • Our Freedoms? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:43PM (#18293668)
    According to GW Bush, "They hate our freedoms." [whitehouse.gov] I guess he figures if we get rid of our freedoms, they'll quit hating us. Nothing else makes much sense.
  • by StewedSquirrel (574170) on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:43PM (#18293674)
    The simple fact is that human nature tends to cause us to use power whenever we can. This is the reason that there are checks and balances in our government. Some smart guys realized a few hundred years ago, that a position with unchecked power will eventually be abused by a person seeking personal gain.

    This is a fact.

    This is a truth of humanity.

    Laws such as the patriot act, which remove checks and balances and allow individuals or small groups of like-minded individuals to act unilaterally in a way that is damaging to the rights of other citizens is a gross violation of this principle and is evidence to a loss of touch with what our government is put in place to do.

    While protecting the people is a primary goal of a government, protecting the people must weigh protections both on the freedom and liberty of people against the PHYSICAL protection of people.

    Unfortunately, our society is so sheltered from physical trauma, we have grown risk-averse in a disturbing way.

    A few hundred years ago, when most people did not reach 60, and 1/4 of children died before adolescence, we had a realistic view of how important liberty is in our society. People dealt with death and destruction, as it was part of nature. Liberty, however, was not a constant and had to be protected at all costs.

    Today, people take liberty for granted and so fear death and destruction that they will throw away their liberty for temporary saftey.

    This is the trap which our founding fathers warned us against. They saw its power and also its danger.

    We need to open our eyes to that truth as well.

    Stew
    • >and so fear death and destruction that they will throw away their liberty for temporary saftey.

      To put it this way is to fall into the rhetorical trap laid by the cynical power seekers. A statement like that one reinforces the idea that we're safer as a result of ignoring the Constitution.

      The extra powers, for the stated purposes, are both unnecessary and useless. Unnecessary, because the FBI could have rolled up the 9/11 cells under pre-9/11 law (see the Colleen Rowley memo). Useless, as we see in pract
  • .... should be just like using Vista:

    "Your rights guaranteed by the constitution are about to be violated. Cancel or allow?"
  • Serves us right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:47PM (#18293736)
    LOL how often have we heard conservatives sniping at people who object to the expansive, unchecked powers of the Patriot Acts? Now do you understand what "nation of laws not a nation of men" means? This is why you don't give the government totalitarian powers (even if it's your party) and turn your back expecting them not to be abused. Let the March of the Frogs begin!
  • So, Sweden (Score:4, Interesting)

    by apexcp (931320) on Friday March 09, 2007 @04:48PM (#18293764)
    So all the people who regularly point out how much "better" a society Sweden is than the US, either have to: - entirely backtrack - agree that domestic surveillance really ISN'T that big a deal - just be hypocrites. (grabs some popcorn) OK, let's start discussing!
    • Re:So, Sweden (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Rob the Bold (788862) on Friday March 09, 2007 @05:04PM (#18293972)

      So all the people who regularly point out how much "better" a society Sweden is than the US, either have to: - entirely backtrack - agree that domestic surveillance really ISN'T that big a deal - just be hypocrites. (grabs some popcorn) OK, let's start discussing!

      Methinks we'd all be better off if we could support each other's efforts to restore freedom in our homelands, rather than sniping back and forth about how much worse off the other is.

  • Surprised? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by v1 (525388)
    I mean really, this is the FBI. Is anyone really surprised by this? It's against their moral code to play by the rules.
  • I am so not surprised from that. I think I'm going to have a heart attack and die from lack of surprise.
  • Moral of the story (Score:4, Insightful)

    by isotope23 (210590) on Friday March 09, 2007 @05:05PM (#18293976) Homepage Journal
    The Moral is:

    Never give the government a power that you would not feel comfortable in having your worst enemy exercise.
    (Because someday they will)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Never give the government a power that you would not feel comfortable in having your worst enemy exercise.

      I take you're a fan of nuclear disarmament - because I sure wouldn't want my worst enemy sitting on a stockpile of nuclear weapons.

      The way I see it, as a citizen you try fill the positions of power in government with good people who will do their best to act in the best interest of the people generally. But, you also set up enough oversight that you can tell when the people in positions of power are no

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday March 09, 2007 @05:12PM (#18294056) Journal
    Dick Cheney seems to be absolutely right. The insurgency seems to be in its last throes. Only difference is it is not the insurgency in Iraq fueled by the blind racistic xenophobia of Iraqis, shias or sunnis.

    The insurgency that is dying is the one that began 230 odd years ago, against a distant King in England, by a ragtag group of people who believed in liberty. What kind of country we have now, if our citizenry can be so scared by the loss of couple of skyscrapers and surrender the freedoms so quickly?

    The insurgency led by Geroge Washington and Thomas Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers is really in its last throes.

  • Surprised? Nah, not really.
    These people took the power our congress gave to them and abused it. Maybe it was on purpose and maybe it was by accident. We'll never know.

    Is the FBI a "good" organization or a "Bad" organization? Neither. The FBI is persuing its organizational goals which are to gather information about people. The fact that the information it gathers and the tactics it uses fall on one side or another of an arbitrary line defining "good" or "bad" changes nothing.

    The fact is that gathering AN
  • Government agencies misusing the powers they are given? Who would have thought such a thing possible!?

  • As if this is news. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Grendel Drago (41496) on Friday March 09, 2007 @05:51PM (#18294520) Homepage
    As by meringuoid said more than a year ago: [slashdot.org]

    A helpful guideline: Whenever a controversial law is proposed, and its supporters, when confronted with an egregious abuse it would permit, use a phrase along the lines of 'Perhaps in theory, but the law would never be applied in that way' - they're lying. They intend to use the law that way as early and as often as possible.
  • by rfc1394 (155777) <Paul@paul-robinson.us> on Friday March 09, 2007 @09:23PM (#18296424) Homepage Journal

    Back in the 1960s and 1970s, as a result of FBI abuses including targeting of dissident groups, new laws were passed and court decisions occurred putting restrictions on the FBI and on state and local police because of agency misconduct. Consider Bull Connor [wikipedia.org] and his thugs at the Birmingham (Alabama) Police, who felt the appropriate response for peaceful protests was attack dogs and firehosing. We did not 'hobble' them because we wanted to let criminals get away with things, we put restrictions on police because they could not be trusted not to abuse their authority.

    You didn't get decisions like Miranda [wikipedia.org] , Escobedo [wikipedia.org] , Mapp [wikipedia.org] , and others because it was thought that it would be a good idea to make the job of law enforcement more difficult, but because law enforcement was acting in an improper and often illegal fashion. Depriving police of the ability to use illegally obtained evidence, of suppressing forced confessions and other such things would, it was claimed, destroy law enforcement. And you know what happened? Police officers learned, generally, to act within the rules, to be professional and to work on finding evidence in a proper manner. But it still wasn't enough.

    The Govenor of Illinois had to commute the death sentences of over 150 because of police and prosecutorial misconduct, including cases where prosecutors sought death sentences and sent people they knew were innocent to death row. The incident was so bad that some prosecutors were arrested for misconduct.

    There is an old saying in Latin, Quos custodes ipsos custodes?, i.e. Who will watch the watchers? When the police don't have serious restrictions, they will do anything they can get away with. Sometimes the police act properly and in a professinal manner. Sometimes the police can be almost as bad as the people they are supposed to catch.

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.

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