Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Government News

FBI Admits More Privacy Violations 179

Posted by Soulskill
from the truth-will-out-eventually-if-they-feel-like-it dept.
kwietman writes "The FBI admitted that in 2006, for the fourth straight year, they improperly accessed phone and internet records of U.S. citizens. Director Robert Mueller testified that the abuses occurred prior to sweeping reforms enacted in 2007, and actually blamed the breaches in part on the telecommunications companies, who submitted more information than was requested. In another unsurprising development, the FBI also underreported the number of security letters - used to authorize wiretaps and to subpoena internet and telecom records - by over 4,600. The use of these letters to identify potential terrorists has, according to the government audit, increased dramatically since the implementation of the Patriot Act. Over 1,000 of these security letters were found to be improper in 2005, and similar numbers were expected for 2006 and 2007."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FBI Admits More Privacy Violations

Comments Filter:
  • Right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@NoSpAm.palegray.net> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:02PM (#22670506) Homepage Journal

    blamed the breaches in part on the telecommunications companies, who submitted more information than was requested
    Or it could be the requests were sufficiently vague that the telcos thought they were submitting the right amount of information.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ILuvRamen (1026668)
      I can see it now. "Please send us the info on everyone who might be a terrorist"
    • Re:Right. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrbluze (1034940) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @09:21PM (#22671234) Journal

      Or it could be the requests were sufficiently vague that the telcos thought they were submitting the right amount of information.
      It's one thing to be worried about the Feds doing what they do. What has me worried is that so much (all) of our private information is accessible by telcos, many of which are owned by foreign interests. Whose country is it anyway?
    • Imagine the shit they would have caught if they didn't submit enough information.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mr. Slippery (47854)

      it could be the requests were sufficiently vague that the telcos thought they were submitting the right amount of information.

      If the FBI is submitting vague requests, it's acting illegally. Amendment IV: "...no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

      If the telcos are rolling over and complying with vague requests, then they are accessories to the FBI's crimes.

      In a s

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        If the FBI is submitting vague requests, it's acting illegally. Amendment IV: "...no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

        Why don't we quit picking and pulling parts of the constitution out and out of context in order to push a point that is often different then the point in the constitution. This is the same stuff that assholes do to the bible to find where it support

      • by Creepy (93888)
        yes the spooks are forbidden to domestically spy without a warrant and so this is illegal. Unfortunately, Bush has allowed the NSA to do unfettered domestic spying [wikipedia.org] (yes, constitutionally illegal and against the NSA charter) by executive order so if the agencies work together in any way they may have a dubiously legal way of getting the information, so proving all of the information was obtained illegally may be harder than it sounds.

        In a sane world, "the decider" wouldn't be allowed to executive order hims
    • This is why Telecom companies SHOULD NOT be given unlimited immunity.

      If the telecom companies gave up information -- the minimum necessary that they were required to hand over in order to comply with the law, that could be an justification for immunity.

      However, it doesn't sound like most of them did any due-diligence in ensuring the FBI got only the required information and only what the companies were required to hand over. They shouldn't be given a "free ticket" for
      every action they've done -- indeed, th
      • by tgrigsby (164308) on Friday March 07, 2008 @03:26AM (#22672976) Homepage Journal
        If the telecom companies gave up information -- the minimum necessary that they were required to hand over in order to comply with the law, that could be an justification for immunity.


        You start by stating that the telcos should not be granted unlimited immunity for breaking the law. Then in your next statement you basically say, "Unless they only broke it a little bit," and even then only if the government pays its phone bill.

        No. Not just no, but hell no. Maybe you're okay with giving up a little of your freedom to the most corrupt administration in history for a little bit of security. I couldn't get enough warm and fuzzy out of that arrangement to allow me to sleep at night. George Bush can stick telco immunity ("if we don't give them a pass, they won't be so willing to break the law next time") right up his ass. I want the FBI out of my business unless they have probably cause and a warrant. Period, end of story.

      • by volpe (58112)

        If the telecom companies gave up information -- the minimum necessary that they were required to hand over in order to comply with the law, that could be an justification for immunity.
        If they gave up only that which was required in order to comply with the law (which is zero, in the warrantless cases), there would be no need for immunity.
  • Without outrage... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bayoudegradeable (1003768) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:04PM (#22670528)
    The Feds will never care, the White House will never care as it seems most people in the U.S. don't care about this issue. Without outrage we'll never see an improvement. "Catching" bad guys is what they think they're doing and no adjustment will be made from within. Sadly, it will most likely never become a major issue, though it most certainly should.
    • by WindowlessView (703773) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:17PM (#22670674)

      Catching" bad guys is what they think they're doing and no adjustment will be made from within.

      Makes you wonder how they are doing catching "bad" guys when they can barely monitor themselves. Time to face up to it, we are living in a Kafkaesque nation.

    • by corsec67 (627446) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:19PM (#22670692) Homepage Journal
      Why not have a monetary penalty awarded to the victim from the budget of the agency?

      Like $1000 per incorrectly tapped phone call? (Not per tap, but per call that occurred while that tap was in place.)
      • by KevinKnSC (744603)
        You'd run into the same problem that the ACLU's lawsuit against the telcos ran into: you have to prove you were the subject of an incorrect phone tap before you can take legal action, but you can't prove it without first taking legal action.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Torvaun (1040898)
          No, you have to prove you were the subject of an incorrect phone tap before you can collect damages, which typically happens after the legal action has started anyways. I wonder if you can bring a civil suit against the Feds if you're improperly tapped...
          • I think the point being made is that you can't take effective legal action (civil or criminal) without evidence that you were the target of an improper phone tap, but you aren't allowed to acquire or share any such evidence, so you can't take any legal action.
            • by Torvaun (1040898)
              If you don't know that you were the target of an improper phone tap, I agree. If you know or suspect that you have been phone-tapped, there's almost certainly going to be some evidence of it, especially if it's still in place. At that point, you could probably show some attorney what you've got, and best odds are that it is going to be enough to start something.
              • If you don't know that you were the target of an improper phone tap, I agree. If you know or suspect that you have been phone-tapped, there's almost certainly going to be some evidence of it, especially if it's still in place. At that point, you could probably show some attorney what you've got, and best odds are that it is going to be enough to start something.

                At which point some part of the Executive (FBI, Attorney General's office) steps in and says, "We can't publicly talk about your evidence because it might compromise national security; if you talk about it, you'll be arrested." I believe that's what people are unhappy about.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209)
        Like the parent poster said, because so many Americans don't want that. If a presidential candidate suggested your idea, they'd be labeled "pro-terrorist" and their poll numbers would drop immediately. Despite years of illegal wiretaps and the administration failing to ever explain why the fisa provisions are insufficient, a great many people are still against requiring warrants for wiretaps. They don't listen, they don't think. You push their "terrorist" fear button and they say immediately say "yes" t
      • Why not have a monetary penalty awarded to the victim from the budget of the agency?
        Like $1000 per incorrectly tapped phone call? (Not per tap, but per call that occurred while that tap was in place.)

        What would be the point? It would be paid for by YOUR tax dollars. The douche bags involved lets off the hook. Now if we start talking about SERIOUS jail time in MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISON (where Ex-Feds will be fearing for their lives daily) then there might be some deterrent value.

      • I don't want to pay for some idiot's screw-up/malicious intent. No, it should come directly out of the offender's pay, if anything. In reality they should all be fired and or prosecuted. They broke the law after all. Where the hell are the consequences?

        This crap about putting process and procedures in place to prevent it from happening again is nonsense. It didn't work last time and it won't work this time because it's asking the fox to watch the hen house. If private industry were as inept at self-regulati
      • by Hatta (162192)
        How about a criminal penalty for the agent who tapped the call illegally?
    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:19PM (#22670706) Homepage
      Of course the feds don't care -- look, they feel free to even admit that they are abusing the powers granted to them, that they aren't even bothering to follow the already extremely permissive laws that guide them. It's been going on for years -- ever since the first report after the enactment of the USAPATRIOT Act -- and still they aren't called on it.

      No, for some reason not enough people care. Firstly I blame the media -- just like the previous reports, and even the NSA wiretapping scandal, this will show up in the news for a little while then quietly vanish. Secondly I blame people who even when presented with facts by the media just blindly assume that it's all done to catch terrorists and they don't care. They're told the their privacy is being abused, and they mentally convert this into their privacy not being abused, only terrorists and since when do terrorists deserve privacy?

      Even Congress -- now Democrat controlled -- doesn't do much but feign shock and dismay that the powers they granted without even reading what they were are being abused.

      Some people care, but it just doesn't seem to be enough.
      • by statemachine (840641) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @09:00PM (#22671086)
        They're told the their privacy is being abused, and they mentally convert this into their privacy not being abused, only terrorists and since when do terrorists deserve privacy?

        That's a huge problem right there. Those are the same people who say "I have nothing to hide," but when you ask for all their bank statements and keys to their doors and video cameras in their house... (just keep suggesting more stuff until...) they balk.

        And maybe some of the perception is that the government is this magical entity, not made up of people who are your neighbors, or that jerk that cut you off this morning, etc.

        All of a sudden, those same people want their privacy. Amazing isn't it?
        • by mpe (36238)
          That's a huge problem right there. Those are the same people who say "I have nothing to hide," but when you ask for all their bank statements and keys to their doors and video cameras in their house... (just keep suggesting more stuff until...) they balk.
          And maybe some of the perception is that the government is this magical entity, not made up of people who are your neighbors, or that jerk that cut you off this morning, etc.


          Quite a few of them appear to continue to have complete faith in government. Ev
      • by grassy_knoll (412409) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @09:13PM (#22671178) Homepage

        No, for some reason not enough people care. Firstly I blame the media


        Oh yeah. It's the media. Why I was just watching something on that...

        erm... hang on... Britney just shaved something again...
      • 1) 2/3 vote required to pass a VETO by the chimp

        2) Democrats may be similar as republicans politically; but as a party they are NOT the same. The Dems seem to pride themselves on their 'distributed' nature and lack of organization and uniformity that constantly undercuts them despite historically having the largest membership.

        3) Democrats have more in-fighting and less uniformity among their members; nor do they frequently threaten and undermine those who break rank - that is if they even bother to even for
      • by will_die (586523)
        It was going on before then it was just that the USPATRIOT law required that the FBI keep track and report the problem.
        What most people don't know is that the USPATRIOT act for the most part just added terrorism and spying against the USA as reason that actions from previous laws could be used. In addition it codified various executive orders from the mid-90s and before, made them law and then required tracking and reporting of them.
    • Catching bad guys (Score:5, Interesting)

      by statemachine (840641) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:40PM (#22670914)
      I once attended a lecture by a prominent local individual in L.A. who was known for speaking out against the LAPD's blanket harassment (and assaults) of people living in the poorer areas.

      He said the prevailing attitude seemed to be "Catch the Bad Guy." At first, this doesn't sound like it conflicts with the LAPD's motto: "To Protect and Serve." But, he explained, there's a huge difference when you think about it: "Catch the Bad Guy" implies treating everyone in a poor fashion just to maybe catch a bad guy. "To Protect and Serve" implies that everyone is innocent, and explicitly that the police must protect everyone and serve the communities in a good fashion as a priority, rather than suspect everyone and treat them badly.

      That was almost 20 years ago. The LAPD's CRASH (anti-gang) unit has since been disbanded due to multiple court rulings of unconstitutionality (the LAPD suspected pretty much every minority) and civil liability case rulings/settlements (the LAPD busted more innocent heads than gang members). The attitude is still a problem, and I've seen it with many other police officers in different cities, BUT I'm not saying it's a majority... just a very annoying minority.

      The main point here: "Catch the Bad Guy" is an easy trap to fall into, and many may not even realize they're acting this way, or simply don't see the distinction.

      The court system is slow, tedious, and money draining -- same as the legislative system. However, we're not seeing our own citizens shot at by itchy-fingered National Guardsmen anymore. I have to remain optimistic, at least about large-scale shifts of thinking...
      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        He said the prevailing attitude seemed to be "Catch the Bad Guy." At first, this doesn't sound like it conflicts with the LAPD's motto: "To Protect and Serve." But, he explained, there's a huge difference when you think about it: "Catch the Bad Guy" implies treating everyone in a poor fashion just to maybe catch a bad guy.

        "Catch the Bad Guy" implies that "the bad guy" is not one of us. It's a matter of perspective because when the reality, that criminals are part of your community, becomes apparent, suddenly the system is harsh & unfair.

      • by mpe (36238)
        He said the prevailing attitude seemed to be "Catch the Bad Guy." At first, this doesn't sound like it conflicts with the LAPD's motto: "To Protect and Serve." But, he explained, there's a huge difference when you think about it: "Catch the Bad Guy" implies treating everyone in a poor fashion just to maybe catch a bad guy.

        Except that it probably isn't "everyone", e.g. what's likely to happen when the "Bad Guy" is another cop (not even LAPD)?

        "To Protect and Serve" implies that everyone is innocent, and e
    • by Ucklak (755284)
      There is about less than 15% of us that do care and that is why we will fail.
    • by MikeRT (947531) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @09:24PM (#22671256) Homepage
      Have you ever read a forum dominated by police who think that their violations of the law are justified in the line of duty? They think you ought to be grateful for them, as though you are some mewling little animal incapable of living in relative safety without them. These people aren't your congressman. They could give a shit less what you think. They think that you owe them a debt of gratitude for keeping you alive and free that's ten times higher than anything anyone in the military would feel.
    • by xSauronx (608805)
      This is what I thought when I saw the headline:

      Things congress won't care about: our privacy violations

      Things congress will care about: Sports players and the drugs they take.

      Sometimes I hate America. /cries
    • by sgt_doom (655561)
      "Catching" bad guys is what they think they're doing...

      Curious, but such a suggestion appears to run counter to all those very phony ops the Feebs of the FBI have been staging, such as that horrendous op against Scott Ritter, which was quickly thrown out of court with the judge declaring the FBI to be a useless bunch of A-holes. And all those other useless "terrorist" ops perpetrated by the feebs of the FBI.

      Whatever became of that anthrax assassin? Oh, of course the feebs of the FBI were much too bus

    • by kylehase (982334)
      The bottom line is that our society is split. Some are willing to give up civil liberties for a sense of security while others feel that our country's strength lies in our civil liberties and it should not be taken away because what the terrorists want.

      Of course there are those who could care less and just let things go whichever way it goes. If they're not willing to fight for civil liberties then that group are basically part of the first group.
      • by mpe (36238)
        The bottom line is that our society is split. Some are willing to give up civil liberties for a sense of security while others feel that our country's strength lies in our civil liberties and it should not be taken away because what the terrorists want.

        Except that it often isn't that simple. A significent proportion of the former want other people's civil liberties infringed whilst their own are protected. Rarely do you find government officials lining up to be spied on...
    • by xeoron (639412)
      Patrick Henry, [wikipedia.org] once said, "Give me Liberty, or give me Death!"
    • by sumdumass (711423)
      Don't confuse people not seeing a problem with it as not caring. People often care enormously and come to a different opinion then you do about the subject -hence the lack of outrage. It generally means that you are the odd one out when you think nobody but you cares.

      there are other points of view on these issues. There is a single right or wrong position.
  • Wow! who would have thought!
    Of course they did. I don't like it, and I'd like to see it stop, but the reality is that the Feds are watching you.
    Use encryption.
  • by The Ancients (626689) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:07PM (#22670556) Homepage
    so I'm not as intimately involved as many of you are. However, there seems to be a lot of 'accidental' - and otherwise - breaches occurring with regard to citizen's rights, but not a lot being done about it. By this, I mean - is punishment commensurate with the crime (and this is a crime) meted out to the perpetrators in cases such as this? I see a lot of articles talking about the breaches, but very few about justice being delivered with regard to those responsible.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by imamac (1083405)
      I take the fact that they announce their errors as a good sign. They could simply hide it like most other governments.
      • by mpe (36238)
        I take the fact that they announce their errors as a good sign. They could simply hide it like most other governments.

        Are the errors they are announcing a random selection or are they only bothering to announce the most minor ones?
  • Grim Outlook (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheMeuge (645043) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:09PM (#22670582)
    Perhaps I am a cynic, but it seems to me that this is merely to be expected.

    Stazi couldn't keep constant surveillance over all of the citizens of East Germany because the technology did not exist to obtain, process, store, and organize this data. Yet they tried, and got fairly close to being able to track anyone who even remotely questioned the regime.

    Now we're getting close to the point where total surveillance of the citizenry is actually feasible. To expect that bureaucracy will go ahead with such a project is awfully optimistic. The goal of any political system is the preservation of status quo, and total surveillance is a very important step to ensure that no perturbations to the system can result from any member of the population that chooses to think for themselves.

    Whether or not we're willing to tolerate this, is the question, because there is no doubt in my mind that it will happen.

    Perhaps we should start with re-examining the concept of privacy, and decide precisely the level of privacy we're comfortable with.
    • The problem is that personal privacy has once again been cast as the co-conspiritor of harmful agents, a shround under which terrorists, paedophiles and televangelists can operate. They've got the technology, they've got the excuse and unless government agencies are brought to task over violating people's privacy they'll get away withit while we tell ourselves 'At least they're making sure we're safe'.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dgatwood (11270)

        The problem is that personal privacy has once again been cast as the co-conspiritor of harmful agents, a shround under which terrorists, paedophiles and televangelists can operate.

        Well, I think I speak for all Americans when I say we don't mind the pedophiles or the terrorists, but we absolutely must protect our citizens from televangelists... no, wait....

    • Re:Grim Outlook (Score:5, Insightful)

      by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:23PM (#22670742) Homepage Journal
      A re-examination of the Constitution would be a fine laxative for the Fed.
      While the document contained glaring flaws like the 3/5 Compromise [wikipedia.org], the Bill of Rights, if followed, would actually support protection of individuals from states and states from the Fed.
      Just have to have a reasonable transition plan to ease the country out of the velvet handcuffs of entitlements.
      Some of the presidential candidates are out to worsen the problem. Watch out for them.
      • Much too late (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NEOtaku17 (679902) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @09:29PM (#22671290) Homepage
        It is too late to start using the Constitution as the ultimate law of the land again. If we followed the Constitution exactly as it is written we would have to get rid of things like the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, Social Security, and many other government programs and agencies that people don't want to see taken away. After years of ignoring it, the Constitution has lost its power.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by imamac (1083405)
          I would love to see those go away, actually.
          • I would love to see those go away, actually.
            Sorry, but the elderly have representation without taxation. We're never going to get rid of SS as long as they're alive.

            Same goes with welfare. Representation without taxation.

            Just as horrifying as taxation without representation in my opinion.
        • If we followed the Constitution exactly as it is written we would have to get rid of things like the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, Social Security, and many other government programs and agencies that people don't want to see taken away.
          We also would have Congress not the Supreme Court decide what is Constitutional, the US would in fact be 2 seperate countries (Union & Confederacy), no standing army, unstable banking, etc.
    • Whether or not we're willing to tolerate this, is the question

      Sadly its already been asked and answered.

    • Re:Grim Outlook (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nizo (81281) * on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:39PM (#22670908) Homepage Journal
      See the big problem here is.... oh wait gotta go, American Idol is on!!!!
    • by mpe (36238)
      Stazi couldn't keep constant surveillance over all of the citizens of East Germany because the technology did not exist to obtain, process, store, and organize this data. Yet they tried, and got fairly close to being able to track anyone who even remotely questioned the regime.

      Yet they completly failed to spot that the GDR was about to become history...

      Now we're getting close to the point where total surveillance of the citizenry is actually feasible. To expect that bureaucracy will go ahead with such a
  • Immunity my ass (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StefanJ (88986) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:10PM (#22670586) Homepage Journal
    " . . . blamed the breaches in part on the telecommunications companies, who submitted more information than was requested . . ."

    Who needs abusive government bureaucracies to abuse our rights when corporations can do the job even better?

    It's time to drag the paranoid, power-hungry trolls responsible for these outrages out into the sunlight for a little disinfecting.

    Issue the subpoenas, investigate these abuses, and, yes, impeach the president. Even if he wasn't responsible for this debacle, then he's derelict in his duties to uphold the constitution.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by The Ancients (626689)

      " . . . blamed the breaches in part on the telecommunications companies, who submitted more information than was requested . . ."

      Who needs abusive government bureaucracies to abuse our rights when corporations can do the job even better?

      Well, it has been said for a long time that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector - you're just seeing a prime example!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by meimeiriver (1083377)
      Issue the subpoenas, investigate these abuses, and, yes, impeach the president.

      And who issues those subpoenas? Exactly, the same folks who have been committing these abuses! Sigh. I fear that, at this point, only a massive uprise from the people will turn the tide. Fortunately, as these things go, you don't actually need a full 'revolution': just turn far enough for the idle masses to realize that they've been playing the wrong team and finally dare to stand up. In eight years, I've seen your country tu

  • by Bovius (1243040)
    "...You cannot just have an FBI agent who decides he'd like to obtain Americans' records, bank records or anything else and do it just because they want to."

    Like warrantless wiretapping, right? Yeah, we definitely shouldn't have that.

  • by Wuhao (471511) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:31PM (#22670834)
    I probably shouldn't post this, but I was at the meeting. Here's how it went down.

    FBI: Hello, AT&T, can we have the phone records for 123-555-6789? As you can see here, we have a warrant here to tap that number, because it belongs to Osama Bin Laden. In fact, it says so right on the caller ID!
    AT&T: Why, certainly! And while we're at it, here are the records for several hundred thousand Americans who are completely or only tangentially related. We hope this helps!
    FBI: No, please, stop! We don't want that data!
    AT&T: Don't be so modest. Here's a few hundred thousand more!
    FBI: Please! Stop! Don't! You're offending the very values upon which J. Edgar Hoover built this place!

    That's exactly how it happened.
  • The use of these letters to identify potential terrorists has, according to the government audit, increased dramatically since the implementation of the Patriot Act.

    I like the way that the Orwellian type language of the WOT infiltrates supposedly objective news. First, the phrasing suggests that more potential terrorists are identified from the use of the letters. Better, and more correct would be "attempt to identify potential terrorists". Second, the notion of "potential" terrorists bothers me to no end

    • by perlchild (582235)
      Am I the only one who's worried they went from "suspected" to "potential" as to who they can tap?
      • by dgatwood (11270)

        I believe the correct line is "Everyone has the potential to be a terrorist given the right environment, the right situation, and the right materials." Scary, but true. Someone once said that the only difference between terrorists and freedom fighters is the way history views them, and that's absolutely true when you think about it. The Boston Tea Party bordered on a terrorist act when you think about it. And don't get me started on the American Revolution.

        We need to pull our heads out of our collecti

        • by mpe (36238)
          I believe the correct line is "Everyone has the potential to be a terrorist given the right environment, the right situation, and the right materials." Scary, but true. Someone once said that the only difference between terrorists and freedom fighters is the way history views them, and that's absolutely true when you think about it.

          Actually it can be an even simpler case of "what side do you support"?

          The Boston Tea Party bordered on a terrorist act when you think about it. And don't get me started on th
  • I'm the optimist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kenrod (188428) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:51PM (#22671022)

    The fact that this information can be found via audits and released publicly signals that our system of government is working pretty well. An effective executive branch (one that can actually protect the innocent) requires some power to operate; that power will be mishandled because the people wielding it are human, meaning they are lazy, incompetent, unfocused. In some cases they may be malicious, but this is a worry for anyone wielding any power anywhere, from prosecutors to defense lawyers to legislators to judges to policemen to presidents.

    • by KevinKnSC (744603) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @09:06PM (#22671138)
      And the fallibility of humans is precisely why we are supposed to have checks and balances in our government, and illustrates why the current situation is unacceptable. It's a lot less likely that someone is improperly targeted with a wiretap if the judicial branch has to review the facts and approve it. If the executive branch is acting properly, what does it have to hide from judicial review?
      • And the fallibility of humans is precisely why we are supposed to have checks and balances in our government, and illustrates why the current situation is unacceptable. It's a lot less likely that someone is improperly targeted with a wiretap if the judicial branch has to review the facts and approve it. If the executive branch is acting properly, what does it have to hide from judicial review?

        They can't tell you what they're hiding because it's a matter of national security. Our lives depend on it.

        • by KevinKnSC (744603)
          And how, exactly, does letting Congress and the courts oversee that--in secret, as allowed by FISA and other provisions--risk our national security? Or is it just that it risks the executive branch's ability to do whatever the hell it wants?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eli pabst (948845)
      Which is why that kind of power should never be in the hands of any one person or group. To be done properly, it requires multiple checks by people who are independent entities. Which is why the old system with independent oversight by the FISA court or by the requirement to get a court warrant for a domestic wiretap actually worked. When you have the government spying on Americans with essentially no oversight, you're setting up a system that can readily be abused.

      If you're lucky, you get the retroac
      • by mpe (36238)
        When you have the government spying on Americans with essentially no oversight, you're setting up a system that can readily be abused.

        It also reduces effectivness of law enforcement. Left to their own devices cops are likely to be too busy spying on the politically incorrect and those attempting political change through democratic means to have much time for terrorist conspiracies, gangsters, high crimes, etc.

        If they actually named the specific people who were spied on improperly, then those individuals
    • by houghi (78078)

      The fact that this information can be found via audits and released publicly signals that our system of government is working pretty well.

      The fact that I can see and report security leaks in open software is not the measurement of how good open software is. The fact that it is CORRECTED is what counts.

      So whoop-di-doo that you are able to find it. As long as nothing is done about it, it only shows how BAD the system is working. It is nice that you can proove it and it is better then nothing, but in itself it

  • by scubamage (727538) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @08:56PM (#22671050)
    They want to deprive us of our privacy, lets start gathering masses of tens of thousands of people and march on Area 51, the Pentagon, and everywhere else the government labels private. Quid pro quo. We can't have privacy, so why should they?
  • I'm sure glad Hillary Clinton took the time out of her presidential campaign to vote against the effort to grant the phone companies retroactive immunity. Oh, wait...
  • by SpinningAround (449335) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @10:02PM (#22671554)
    Firstly, politicians tackle complex, real-world issues with overly simplistic solutions. Often these 'solutions' are the result of 'think of the children' or 'homeland security' knee-jerk reactions to challenging geopolitical events. Pollies seem to regard the value of the solution is in being seen to react rather than being seen to react appropriately. The overly simplistic solution is usually broad, poorly bounded legislation. Any boundaries that are imposed are often badly defined from a legal perspective, or worse deliberately vague as a result of the need for a simple and broad solution to the complex problem. Politicians frequently then fall back on the mantra that new powers or laws will be used infrequently and only in special, unique or exceptional instances. [guardian.co.uk]


    This leads to the second problem. The agencies responsible implementing the legislation or using the new powers are not bound by the politicians admonitions about their use. In fact, quite the opposite it true- their very nature and mission encourages them to take the full advantage of whatever powers, rules or procedural changes are implemented in the framework of legislation and common law under which they operate. The only way they can determine the true boundaries of their new powers or a new law is by a process of trial and error, generally involving court cases and other legal mechanisms.


    Which is all fine and is the way that laws have been passed and refined by courts for a considerable period of time (if disasterous if you are the individual caught up in a grey area). However it becomes rather more slippery when the implementation of the legislation in question is subject to national security constraints, secret courts, exceptions for back-filling of paperwork and other get-out clauses.

    Whilst I might object strenously to the notion that the FBI should be able to tap into my conversations without a warrant or that the UK govt. might like to lock me up for 42 days without charge on spurious 'security' related charges, my most strenuous objections are to the lack of transparency and oversight by independent judiciary in open court or similarly ungagged proceedings.

    • by mpe (36238)
      Firstly, politicians tackle complex, real-world issues with overly simplistic solutions. Often these 'solutions' are the result of 'think of the children' or 'homeland security' knee-jerk reactions to challenging geopolitical events. Pollies seem to regard the value of the solution is in being seen to react rather than being seen to react appropriately.

      Politicans may well have a different definition of "appropriate" than either the general population or the interests of their country. There are plenty of
  • The correct title should be "Telcos give improper access to records, FBI acts swiftly to correct privacy violations". I'm not saying the FBI doesn't screw up (a lot), but come on. This article clearly has an agenda-driven bias.
  • Certainly not going to vouch for everything every government agency does, or argue that the US government (or ANY government) is perfect or free from corruption... but seriously, open source software is cool and all that, but open source government probably won't work very well.
  • I mean seriously. We've got international intrigue and when you get down to it the phone company is the bad guy. Sounds plenty familiar to me. Only problem is it's not funny when it's real.
  • The FBI gonna get your number
    The FBI gonna get your number
    They already got your picture
    The FBI
    And your fingerprints too.


    (Has anyone seen GW Bush and Richard Nixon in the same room together? Exactly.)

  • I wonder if the CEO's of these companies agree to things like this so that they can use that line on chicks without feeling like complete liars.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

Working...