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Student Sues FBI For Planting GPS Tracker 586

Posted by timothy
from the jiffy-lube-should-check-for-these-things-by-default dept.
GabriellaKat submits this snippet from Yahoo! news, writing "'Yasir Afifi, 20, says a mechanic doing an oil change on his car in October discovered the device stuck with magnets between his right rear wheel and exhaust. They weren't sure what it was, but Afifi had the mechanic remove it and a friend posted photos of it online to see whether anyone could identify it. Two days later, Afifi says, agents wearing bullet-proof vests pulled him over as he drove away from his apartment in San Jose, Calif., and demanded their property back.' Now he has decided to sue the FBI. This story was also covered last year when he found the tracking device."
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Student Sues FBI For Planting GPS Tracker

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  • Way to go! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 04, 2011 @09:07AM (#35378316)

    If we're going to take people's freedom away and treat them like criminals, then why the fuck does America exist?

    If we're going to act like some police state or other oppressive regimes, then America is dead.

    And if you really think we need this kind of monitoring to be safe, I'd like to point out that even the most monitored states around the World aren't any safer - if anything they're LESS safe because it allows for the abuse by the watchers.

    If the FBI gets away with this, I'll consider America and Her values to be completely dead as opposed to mostly dead because of the PATRIOT Act.

  • In a free country (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 04, 2011 @09:07AM (#35378322)

    This guy would succeed in suing the absolute shit out of them, and the agents responsible would be fired (all the way up the chain). The FBI has repeatedly spit on the cornerstone of our legal system which supposedly guarantees a man to be innocent before proven guilty. They have turned it around once again and forced this man to prove his innocence.

    Now let's see just how free this country really is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 04, 2011 @09:11AM (#35378334)

    The FBI wouldn't be tracking him if he was actually "a 20 year old community college student who has never done anything [wrong]",

    Exactly! Government agencies never do anything wrong and never target innocent citizens! All hail our three lettered overlords!

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday March 04, 2011 @09:16AM (#35378370) Homepage

    To paraphrase: "All suspects are guilty. Otherwise they wouldn't be suspect, would they?"

    People like you should never ever ever serve on a criminal jury.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday March 04, 2011 @09:16AM (#35378372) Journal

    The FBI wouldn't be tracking him if he was actually "a 20 year old community college student who has never done anything [wrong]", as the article says. Maybe he's Ahmadinejad's nephew or something. Can we have some actual reporting?

    • Or could have the same name as OBL's second cousin.
    • Or some FBI agent misspelt OBL's second cousin while punching in the "suspect" database.
    • Or OBL's second cousin has grudge against this guy over some girlfriend (that would be OBL's third cousin) and ratted on this guy to FBI.
    • Or OBL's second cousin is having a side business of ratting out five suspects per month to FBI at the rate of 1000$ per named suspect.
    • Or Al Que`da has a counter intelligence operation where its operatives name so many innocent people to FBI to dilute and scatter FBI's resources.

    Republicans are a strange breed. When it comes to Education or Environment or Social welfare or financial regulation, "Govt is incompetent, Govt is the problem, Govt cant do anything right. Govt employees are useless slackers ...".

    But when it comes to warrant-less wiretaps, surveillance, etc the very same government employees are paragons of virtue and epitome of ability.

    Go figure.

  • Good for him (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kaptink (699820) on Friday March 04, 2011 @09:25AM (#35378412) Homepage

    If it were me I would have called the bomb squad and made sure all the TV crews were there to see them pull the tracking device off. I think the government and friends have granted themselves far too many powers since 9/11 etc and all of which wouldnt make a damn difference had it all happen again. Its a convenient justification to make it easier for which ever department has the resposibilities to do something that could be a bit easier if they were able to spy on you, read your emails, listen to your calls, check your bank transactions, etc, etc and now track your every movements. None of which is going to stop a guy with a cash plane ticket and a box knife is it now? I think the balance between privacy and security has now long been broken and ever day it seems to be getting worse. Its only when people like this guy stand up and make a point that it shouldnt be happening that something might ever possibly change.

  • by AmonTheMetalhead (1277044) on Friday March 04, 2011 @09:32AM (#35378442)
    That sound just like the Westborrow Baptist Church!
  • by klingens (147173) on Friday March 04, 2011 @09:33AM (#35378452)

    It's easy for the FBI to show the legality of their surveillance operation: simply produce the warrant signed by a judge. Clearly it doesn't matter if the suspect knows about it or not, otherwise they wouldn't demand their device back. There is no logical reason at this point not to tell the suspect why he's monitored: if the suspect is guilty, he very well knows why he is monitored anyways, and if he is not, he can probably exactly tell the FBI why it's all a waste of time and money.

    Dear FBI, if you have nothing to hide you can clearly show under what jurisdiction you are monitoring people, right?

  • by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Friday March 04, 2011 @09:33AM (#35378460)
    Wow. Too much Fox News FTL. While I certainly agree that the Islamic religion is a particularly nefarious one (only marginally ahead of Christianity, mind you), the vast majority of Muslims are normal people that just happen to believe something differently than you do.
  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Friday March 04, 2011 @09:40AM (#35378514)

    you've got your facts wrong.

    his friend made a comment on reddit about how insane it is to obsess about terrorists blowing up shopping malls.

    "bombing a mall seems so easy to do. i mean all you really need is a bomb, a regular outfit so you arent the crazy guy in a trench coat trying to blow up a mall and a shopping bag. i mean if terrorism were actually a legitimate threat, think about how many fucking malls would have blown up already.. you can put a bag in a million different places, there would be no way to foresee the next target, and really no way to prevent it unless CTU gets some intel at the last minute in which case every city but LA is i'm surely bugged : /"

    that in and of itself wouldn't be a big deal, half of slashdot would be under permanent surveillance.

    but he did so while being brown which makes it far far more serious.

  • by Xacid (560407) on Friday March 04, 2011 @09:51AM (#35378616) Journal

    To be the devil's advocate - gathering evidence IS the attempt of proving guilt.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday March 04, 2011 @09:54AM (#35378646) Homepage

    It's unconstitutional, in part because it's the FBI. FBI agents, like cops, have limits on what they can do without a warrant. The agents in this case had no warrant.

    Let's look at your facts, shall we?

    1) It was attached with magnets (ie: no damage to the car)

    Totally irrelevant to whether the search is legal. If I'm stopped by an officer as part of a traffic stop, refuse the officer entry to my vehicle (which is totally legal to do), and he grabs the keys and searches my vehicle anyways, that doesn't make the search legal despite the fact that it didn't damage the car in the least.

    2) The car was likely in public (i.e. government property) when they did so

    Irrelevant for much the same reason as the last one. Cars on public streets are still considered "persons, houses, papers, and effects". Also, it's more likely the car was parked in his driveway (where he found the device), or a privately owned parking lot.

    3) The device was readily removable and findable, though most definitely "hidden in plain sight"

    So? If my phone is bugged without a warrant, just because it's an amateurish job does not mean that the wiretap was legal.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday March 04, 2011 @10:03AM (#35378708)

    And blowing up clinics and shooting doctors, Oh wait no that is Christians.

  • by theaveng (1243528) on Friday March 04, 2011 @10:04AM (#35378722)

    >>>Muslims are normal people that just happen to believe something differently than you do.


    It's not just a 1984 idea - it dates all the way back to the ~1100 AD crusades. The only justification for those wars was because muslims thought the "wrong" ideas, and therefore they needed to die. No wonder they hate Europeans & Americans - they still desire revenge for the injustices done to Arabs long ago.

    ".....remove the heads from thy enemies....." - Qor'an

  • by nosferatu1001 (264446) on Friday March 04, 2011 @10:21AM (#35378912)

    And some Americans electrocute or gas their own citizens - so what?

    The US is singularly unable to assert any "moral highground" arguments.

  • by budgenator (254554) on Friday March 04, 2011 @10:29AM (#35378998) Journal

    I'm funny this way, but I refuse to accept responsibility for events that happened 900 years ago. Besides it's not like there isn't enough blame for both sides either.

  • So if he drives his vehicle onto private property where he can't simply be visually seen from a road, is this tracking now illegal?

    This is why we must have laws which prevent warrantless tracking of any kind.

  • Re:Way to go! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday March 04, 2011 @10:34AM (#35379058)

    If we're going to take people's freedom away and treat them like criminals, then why the fuck does America exist?

    ohh, oooh, call on me! I know the answer!

    "to enhance the power and profit-making of big business?"

    (did I get that right?)


  • by Artifakt (700173) on Friday March 04, 2011 @10:37AM (#35379092)

    You don't know. Maybe the reason was a tip from somebody who might have had a grudge. Maybe the reason was something the suspect said at a political meeting. maybe somebody misspelled a name on a form. There are lots of possible reasons, some good, some bad, and some borderline cases that might call for closer oversight of Homeland Security, and the real questions here all depend on those reasons.
      You mentioned his travel. If he travelled frequently, always to locations that are considered hotbeds of terrorism, at times that were suspiciously coincidental with some known terrorists, also visiting those locations, that's a pretty good indicator to probe further. If his travel isn't that clear cut an indicator, then maybe what needs to happen here is the FBI needs to refine their process to avoid spending a lot of money and time following up on bad intelligence. But, you don't know that one way or another.

  • by mysidia (191772) on Friday March 04, 2011 @10:38AM (#35379104)

    To be the devil's advocate - gathering evidence IS the attempt of proving guilt.

    No... gathering evidence is the attempt to establish guilt.

    It is a well known fact that everyone is guilty of something. Especially due to the vast vague laws on the books. If an officer searches you enough they will be able to find some law you have broken, even if you are an upstanding citizen. There are a massive enough obscure laws on the books to do so.

    Hell, 95% of the population can be jailed on the streets at will for the so-called crime of "disorderly conduct". You ever take a quiet stroll in the park? Disorderly conduct!
    You ever take a walk in the woods? Disorderly conduct!
    You ever use the bushes outdoors as a bathroom? Disorderly conduct, public indecency, littering.

    We live in a country, where you have liberties. Even if you are guilty of something, the government is not allowed by the constitution to harass you or go on a fishing expedition to figure out what laws you have broken, obscure laws or not

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Friday March 04, 2011 @10:38AM (#35379108)

    Yes and infringing on your freedoms while gathering evidence is inevitable. To prevent abuse, though, law enforcement is traditionally required to obtain a warrant. This means they've gone in front of a judge, argued why infringing on this person's rights is so important and got the judge to agree. In practice, it is a rubber-stamp in many cases, but at least it is some form of a check and balance system. Recently, however, law enforcement has been whining that getting warrants are too hard and take too long and we'd all be safer if we'd just let them do whatever they want to do whenever they want to do it. After all, like the old saying goes: Absolute power guarantees absolute safety doesn't corrupt at all. (That *is* the saying, right?)

  • Re:Way to go! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Friday March 04, 2011 @10:40AM (#35379130)

    We're so friggin' afraid to die that we don't mind living in a golden cage. Even if it's just spray paint. Everyone's crying for more protection, more safety, no matter the cost. It's not just the whole police state thing running rampart. When was the last time you have seen kids play outside, climbing trees and skinning knees? Everything has to be "safe and sane", cotton-wrapped from cradle to grave. And that's what people want, it seems! That's what you get in a sue-happy environment, where people refuse to think for themselves and instead blame everything happening to them on everyone else. If you're stupid, someone else is to blame for your accidents. You used a rotating chair as a makeshift ladder and broke your leg? Sue the manufacturer, he didn't tell you that it's a STUPID idea.

    People seem to think that they are not responsible for anything, at any time. We're just far too happy to delegate every kind of responsibility to ... well, anyone! And here's someone who promises to keep us safe from terrrrrists? Great, here, have my freedom! I'm far too scared to die to worry about that petty little thing!

    9/11 was traumatic for the US. For the first time, in decades, if not centuries, the US were attacked by someone on their own home ground. And so suddenly too. Unprepared you get hit in your own home. It's about as traumatic as a sudden burglar breaking in and beating you up. Now multiply that by a few 100 million. This is how the US population felt after this event. And much like people who survive such a burglar situation, they start calling for more security. You can see alarm systems sales skyrocket when a burglary series runs rampart across town. But not with people who want to prepare and protect against it, it's usually people who HAVE already had a "visit" who are buying, despite the fact that the horse left the barn, it's not that they'd expect the burglar to return, it's simply a psychological reaction to it. It's this traumatic experience that leads to this behaviour.

    And the fact that you cannot protect from such attacks is no deterrent from trying either. It is impossible to make the US "secure". Are you kidding? Yes, you can monitor everything that gets in and out of the US, but how do you want to avoid people mixing up bombs? We're talking about some 200 million people, do you think NONE of them has the ability AND the willingness AND access to the materials to bomb something? The odds are slightly against you there.

    But, people, it's been a decade. It's time to shake it off. Yes, remember and never forget, but you have to live again. The US were the epitome of freedom, liberty and the ability to make your own way without interference from state or government, for almost all of its existence. People went there from countries that suppressed their strive for self-realization and happiness. This US of today is not anymore what we saw in it. I want my US back!

    Read your anthem, people. Read those last lines. "Land of the free. Home of the brave". It's time you act like it again!

  • by GooberToo (74388) on Friday March 04, 2011 @10:50AM (#35379236)

    He made a comment on Reddit about how easy it actually is to bomb shopping malls

    And he's right, which is why so many Americans are complete morons. To live in ANY free society, you risk being murdered, or worse, at any time of day or night. Period. The fact that so many idiots now suddenly believe they can be free, and have no risk while being free, means they are ignorantly demanding the removal of everyone's freedoms. Only these same people are too stupid to realize what they are really demanding - a non-free society. And guess what, that's exactly what we see; the destruction, well serious erosion, of liberty and freedom.

    Sadly, those who are demanding the absolute protection of America are the most un-American of them all. These people are the real terrorists and all too often are openly embraced by the American public. Sadly, our forefathers are well established about warning us of these tyrants among us.

    The reality is, its trivially easy to mass murder people in any free society. And what you linked to is exactly what he's saying. If terrorism is really such a threat, why don't see see mass murders on a daily basis? The commenter's point, which is completely accurate, is since we don't see terroristic mass murders on a daily basis here in the US, the propaganda is full of shit. The public is being mislead and lied to on a daily basis. The people "saving us" from tyranny are the real tyrants.

    To be absolutely clear, I absolutely am NOT advocating violence. I'm only pointing out that in a free society, just as people have the freedom to go to work or store, some crazy has the freedom to kill them. And the only way to prevent that crazy from having his freedom is to prevent the rest of us from having ours.

    As a side note, with very few exceptions, when you find people saying the US Constitution and our forefather's well known historical positions on life and liberty no longer apply, you've identified either an idiot or a tyrant.

  • Re:Way to go! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yold (473518) on Friday March 04, 2011 @11:46AM (#35379798)

    Do you know how the FBI has operated since its inception? Google the FBI and MLK Jr. , the FBI and communists, the FBI and 1960s radicals. I don't know why people don't realize this is business as usual.

    why the does America exist?

    For the same reason as always, to line the pockets of the richest 5% while subduing the people with fantastic lies about "Freedom". The easiest early example would be The Sedition Act of 1798, which effectively made anti-government speech treasonous. We are a nation of hypocrites; our leaders rule under the principle of doublethink, whereby "Freedom" enjoy supreme lip-service, but truly must it exist only to keep the masses docile and in servitude.

    American "Freedom" as you are taught in school is A LIE; it is pandering and idealistic. It ignores the fact that our founding fathers decreed that "All men shall be created equal" while holding slaves. It glances over the MANY instances of genocide of American Indians. You'll never read about the times that people have been imprisoned or worse for practicing freedom of speech. America is a great country, but you must understand that the common notion of a worsening state of affairs is a product of ignorance.

  • Return property? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Friday March 04, 2011 @11:56AM (#35379950)

    They demanded it back? So that's an admission that it's theirs. Idiot move #1. They need to write that sort of stuff off.

    The proper answer should be: "My attorney has it. He's having it analyzed by experts."

    Next time, have some fun. Stick it to a police car parked at the doughnut shop. Then, make an anonymous call to the cops and report a rumor that some gang members in a couple of black SUVs are looking to knock off a cop to make their rep in the neighborhood.

  • by mxs (42717) on Friday March 04, 2011 @11:59AM (#35379998)

    Here's a better idea. Rather than track all the cars, let's track the cars of people with red flags like sending lots of money to the Middle East, having a father with political connections in the Middle East,

    Are either of these things illegal ? Are either of these things indicative of illegal behavior ? If you think so, I sure hope you never get racially profiled in the same way. It's bullshit. Unless you want to do the same to people who send money to Sweden and a father with political connections in Sweden. Or Mexico. Or Belgium. Or Japan. But then you are still just a xenophobe.

    and having friends who make online posts about bombing malls.

    Like in computer games ? Or as a hyperbolic way to point out the idiocy of security theatre ? Point out the idiocy of what the TSA is doing would be enough to get you "flagged" ? And what is a "flag" ? Who oversees these "flags" ? Is a judge ever involved ? We are infringing on an individual's liberties here; there better be judicial oversight. Alternatively, get rid of judges altogether and have the FBI carry out executions at will. Policestates are not that bad if you have nothing to hide.

    And as a result of having red flags, the FBI decides to get a little more information about these people, not harassing them, damaging their property, or interfering with their lives in any way.

    Other than infringing on their civil liberties and rights, sure. In that case, let's record every phone call ever made and keep it archived for a couple of years. This does not inconvenience people at all, they would not even notice it, nobody would be harassing them about it either. Better keep a log of all internet activity too. This is easily feasible. And it'll help with getting a little more information about people who get flagged in the future. Surely this is an idea we can all get behind ! Nobody would ever abuse this data or these privileges, not at the FBI. The FBI does not make mistakes, of course. And if they do, they can cover it up easily enough.

    Yeah, I really have no problem with that. Why are you making a false equivalence between that totally reasonable activity and putting trackers "on all cars in the country" -- suggesting the FBI is just fishing randomly and harassing anybody they see fit.

    Because the only reason the latter is not happening is that there are supposedly safeguards like judicial oversight. The FBI will conduct its operations the way it is most efficient and easiest for them to do. If they are allowed to use a tool, they will use it -- doing anything other than that would mean they are not doing their jobs efficiently or well.

    Now an argument could be made that what they did here is reasonable. And if that argument can be made, why did they not make it to a judge and get a warrant ? We, as a society, infringe on people's liberties and rights all the time, balancing them against the interests of the society. To make sure this does not get abused by the executive, independent judicial oversight is necessary. That way we all get a fair shake and don't end up in a policestate. In an ideal world, anyway. We are far from an ideal world, and getting farther and farther away.

  • Re:Way to go! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by frozentier (1542099) on Friday March 04, 2011 @02:57PM (#35382460)
    You better watch out. I would have posted your post as anonymous in case someone decides to call child protective services on you for being an abusive parent and allowing your kids to suffer.

Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. -- Bertrand Russell