Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States Crime Government Your Rights Online

When Spies and Crime-Fighters Squabble Over How They Spy On You 120

Posted by timothy
from the we-may-or-may-not-have-done-that dept.
The Washington Post reports in a short article on the sometimes strange, sometimes strained relationship between spy agencies like the NSA and CIA and law enforcement (as well as judges and prosecutors) when it comes to evidence gathered using technology or techniques that the spy agencies would rather not disclose at all, never mind explain in detail. They may both be arms of the U.S. government, but the spy agencies and the law enforcers covet different outcomes. From the article: [S]sometimes it's not just the tool that is classified, but the existence itself of the capability — the idea that a certain type of communication can be wiretapped — that is secret. One former senior federal prosecutor said he knew of at least two instances where surveillance tools that the FBI criminal investigators wanted to use "got formally classified in a big hurry" to forestall the risk that the technique would be revealed in a criminal trial. "People on the national security side got incredibly wound up about it," said the former official, who like others interviewed on the issue spoke on condition of anonymity because of the topic’s sensitivity. "The bottom line is: Toys get taken away and put on a very, very high shelf. Only people in the intelligence community can use them." ... The DEA in particular was concerned that if it came up with a capability, the National Security Agency or CIA would rush to classify it, said a former Justice Department official.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

When Spies and Crime-Fighters Squabble Over How They Spy On You

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just like I'll never admit what Slashdot account I'm using to farm karma with!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What's the deal with the double esses on "ssometimes" in the ssummary and excerpt?

  • Yay for serpentspeak!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2014 @10:53PM (#47541107)

    They have no real oversight anymore, by design. Only between eachother is there any contention. What is legal no longer matters.
    Stingray cell phone intercepts, for starters.

    The list goes on into the infinite darkness your taxes pay for and for which your laws were expressly written to never allow.

    • Bullshit they are the ones acting responsibly. Whenever the law becomes corrupt the good guys are all criminals. I'd rather take my chances against an extra judicial assassination squad, than a court of law where DA will either withhold, distort or make up evidence to get his 98. % conviction rate. Why do usians worry about Gitmo when we lock up more of our own citizens than any other country in the world. Law enforcement and government is at war with the usian citizen. The three letter agencies minu

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by sumdumass (711423)

        Usian.. that says it all

        The rest of your dribble can be completely ignored seing how you cannot even get that correct. Maybe the reason people worry about Gitmo instead of locking our own citizens up is because the people complaining about it appear to be imbeciles using terms like usian instead of the proper American.

        Oh, and before you say "but there are other countries" or "the continent", there are no other countries in the Americas (that right, plural because of two continents) that end their country's

      • by sjames (1099)

        So you claim that the guys that import and sell the illegal drugs (CIA, proven) to fund illegal wars and the guys that use spy tech and then lie about it in court (DEA, parallel construction, proven) are good guys? I don't think so.

      • You act as if there is no relationship between the two, when it's quite clear that both sides are complicit with each other. The militarization of local police is due to all of this war on terror crap, and much of the gear they get is from military surplus. And the lying about evidence is at least partially because the NSA is feeding them tips or something similar (like the business the NSA undoubtedly throws towards stingray manufacturers to local PDs)

        Plus, the DEA has no legitimate function, and the
  • Fear (Score:2, Funny)

    by Charliemopps (1157495)

    What they fear isn't the criminals finding out about it...

    Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house To put his nest on high, To be delivered from the hand of calamity! You have devised a shameful thing for your house By cutting off many peoples; So you are sinning against yourself. Surely the stone will cry out from the wall, And the rafter will answer it from the framework.

    Habakkuk 2:9-11

  • by Joe Gillian (3683399) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @11:03PM (#47541149)

    I remember that after 9/11, one of he big focuses of the Federal government was to get all of the various intelligence and law enforcement agencies - specifically the FBI and CIA - to work together and share intelligence. The fact that they weren't working together was one of the factors that contributed to the 9/11 hijackers being able to pull off their plot. This is the entire reason that the Department of Homeland Security was created, to bring all intelligence about threats to the United States under one body.

    Now, it looks like they're splitting up again, just like they did before 9/11. What's it going to take for them to realize this is a bad idea?

    • by Rich0 (548339) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @11:13PM (#47541185) Homepage

      It seems like there is a simple solution to this sort of problem: don't use advanced warrant-less surveillance technology for matters other than serious national security threats. The DEA doesn't need to tap every cell phone in LA, and so on.

      If there is evidence that somebody has smuggled a nuclear bomb into NYC, then by all means tap whatever you have to tap until the bomb is recovered. However, this sort of approach shouldn't be the norm. If anything the NSA/etc are already going too far even in the pursuit of legitimate national security threats. There is no reason at all to be using these kinds of technologies to go after people like drug dealers.

      • by hawguy (1600213) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @01:25AM (#47541479)

        If there is evidence that somebody has smuggled a nuclear bomb into NYC, then by all means tap whatever you have to tap until the bomb is recovered.

        You're perpetuating the myth that the NSA and others want us to believe -- that if only they could collect enough data from all of us, they could stop the bad guys. The problem is that the bad guys already know that someone may be listening, so when they smuggle in their nuclear bomb, they aren't going to call their contact and say "The nuclear bomb is in position, it's in Times Square and will detonate at 4am instead of 1am". Instead, they are going to post a message on Facebook that says "Aunt Nelly is on her way to Tacoma, she's running late and not arriving until the 4th instead of the 1st ".

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          Well, it isn't a myth so much as an untested hypothesis. If you posted on your facebook page "Aunt Nelly is on her way to Tacoma, she's running late and not arriving until the 4th instead of the 1st" and you don't have an Aunt Nelly who has some reason to be in Tacoma that would be suspicious.

          My main beef with the technology is that it is getting applied to all kinds of things other than serious threats of mass-casualties, and that when there is a serious threat of terrorism/etc we don't give the terrorist

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            Well, it isn't a myth so much as an untested hypothesis. If you posted on your facebook page "Aunt Nelly is on her way to Tacoma, she's running late and not arriving until the 4th instead of the 1st" and you don't have an Aunt Nelly who has some reason to be in Tacoma that would be suspicious.

            Ah, but what kind of actionable intelligence do you gain from the millions of "suspicious" posts that would be detected every day? "Ok boys, be on the lookout for something or something called Nelly on it's way to Tacoma on the 4th or 1st... oh, and here are a list of a million other things to watch out for today". This is why collecting and analyzing "everything" on everybody is the wrong thing to do [computerweekly.com] -- separating out the relevant data is nearly impossible when the data collection is not targeted. Even if

            • by Rich0 (548339)

              The problem for the terrorist is that they still have to communicate. Who looks at their blog or whatever?

              After they blow up their target, you can ID the participants. Then you can go pull up the logs and see every person they've communicated with. You see they viewed a log. You note that 12 other foreigners have had something to do with that log. Now you go track down what they're up to now.

              The idea of mass surveillance is that once somebody messes up and you get a lead you can pursue that lead far fu

        • by flyneye (84093)

          When I was in grade school, a kid in New York researched and BUILT an atomic bomb sans uranium. All he got was a good grade in school, the bomb taken away, national attention and probably a pretty cushy job in a government funded lab somewhere.

          Still searching instructables......

      • don't use advanced warrant-less surveillance technology for matters other than serious national security threats.

        Don't use it at all.

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          don't use advanced warrant-less surveillance technology for matters other than serious national security threats.

          Don't use it at all.

          The only problem with this is the asymmetry of modern warfare/terrorism/etc.

          Suppose a terrorist manages to get their hands on a nuclear bomb, and you believe they intend to destroy a city.

          Which is the lesser evil? Tapping lots of phones simply to capture the terrorist, or letting them blow up a city?

          It certainly is a slippery slope. What if the target is a bus, or an individual, or corrupting a minor with drugs, or sleeping with somebody of the wrong gender?

          However, I think that it is a legitimate debate.

          • Tapping lots of phones simply to capture the terrorist, or letting them blow up a city?

            The former, because we're supposed to be 'the land of the free.' The government has *no power* to violate the constitution. They have to get a warrant or shut up; safety is not an excuse, and it never has been.

            • You asked, "Which is the lesser evil?" I meant to say that it's the latter, in case that wasn't clear.

      • It seems like there is a simple solution to this sort of problem: don't use advanced warrant-less surveillance technology for matters other than serious national security threats.

        BINGO! We have a winner here folks. Chuck, tell our contestant what he has won...

        A night in luxurious GITMO near to relaxing beaches and refreshing Caribbean air. Back to you strikethree...

        I got nothing.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      If you search for objective evidence the Gov't knew the 9/11 attack was going to happen, you might be surprised what you find. Try search terms like, stock puts 9/11, Israel warned US 9/11, actor James Woods 9/11, Israeli firm broke lease in world trade center 9/11, Bush and Bin-laden connection, FBI told stop investigating Bin-ladens before 9/11.

      If you think the Gov't would never do such a thing to spur the population to war, search pearl harbor attack foreknowledge, gulf of tonkin incident, Isra

      • by Whorhay (1319089)

        I think it was Nova that did a very interesting piece on the intelligence failures around 9/11 that made the most sense to me. The short story is that the CIA was actively investigating some of the hijackers and suspected they were on the verge of doing something. The CIA was very interested in actually getting the bust for whatever cock waiving reasons. So when the suspects entered the USA and the CIA should have brought the FBI on board instead they just decided to wait and hope that they didn't do someth

    • This is the entire reason that the Department of Homeland Security was created, to bring all intelligence about threats to the United States under one body.

      That's not true... The DHS absorbed INS, USCIS, Customs, Border Patrol, Coast Guard, Secret Service, and probably some other notable stuff I'm too lazy to look up. If you need help spotting the theme, it's enforcement.

      There may be more collaboration between members of the intelligence community, which DHS is a party to [dhs.gov] but that's not the reason DHS was created.

  • by epyT-R (613989) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @11:27PM (#47541227)

    Lock them all up in prison and hand each a copy of the constitution to read over and over again for a few decades.

  • Better than nothing? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mindcandy (1252124) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @11:35PM (#47541267)
    So, can I claim this as a victory under the "enemy of my enemy" philosophy?

    Of course what goes without mention here is that "high shelf" just means they have to go through the trouble of getting the trial itself declared a matter of national security, meaning they can classify the entire charade (pfft, speedy and public what?).
    • by swb (14022)

      You'd like to think this means something good, like maybe the spy guys have some moral disdain for spying on citizens for law enforcement purposes but I think that's just wishful thinking.

      My guess is that at best, this is about the spy guys not wanting to lose any advantage they have over high-value, careful adversaries who will walk away from a communication system if they think it could be compromised.

      At worst, it's bureaucratic one-upmanship, with national security types wanting to keep their status over

  • A law enforcement agency invented or discovered a new technique, that can help them in their job? Great! It's good to hear that they are exercising their creatived talents and advancing their field. As long as the new methods are legal and constitutional, there is no problem. If, on the other hand, it croses the constitutional limits in small ways, that's understandable - time change, and if the proposal is reaonable, the constitution can change with it.

    So the simple solution is to see if an Amendment can be passed to allow it. Worries about criminals finding out aren't relevant - you can' t use it in a court anyway. As for worries about the NSA or CIA flying in to classify it, well, it's a LOT harder to put that geenie back in the bottle once amendment debates start happening. Even in the worse case where this particular case is ruined from the public disclosure, the investment towards free use of a new category of tools in the future could easly be worth the setback.

    Now, I'm sure a lot of you are thinking I'm being sarcastic (or delusional). It's not like such an amendment would ever have a chance at passing, right? Well... that's hard to say. I would probably be against it as initially proposed, but that's not relevant - by making the proposal, and opening up the topic for public discussion and public input, instead of working in secret, maybe we - the citizens - can negotiatiate with our neighbors and figure out a way to allow this new law-enforcement technique. How can we know how such a debate would go? Yes, it's a risk, but so is working in secret, hoping nobody finds out about some new technique.

    Maybe it just needs some ground rules about when/where it can be used. Maybe we could allow it if it had some sort of oversight/watchdog group. Maybe we can invent some new type of social compromise; after all, it's a new technique - maybe it needs a new way of fitting into our legal system.

    On the other hand, maybe...

    ...it only needs a warrant.

    • Constitutional is not the topic. A normal warrant reveals the capability regardless. A trial revealing the evidence just the same.

      They don't want the bad guys to know what to protect themslves against. They want to collect evidence that they have no intention of presenting at a trial.

      The amendment you incoherently fail to express would be clarifying that only citizens are constitutionally protected. Problem solved. And secret warrants for the rest, because information travels faster these days. Or sealed fo

    • There's no need for a constitutional amendment. The government has far too much power as it is, and if an amendment were to be made, it should be one that more explicitly limits the government's powers and closes the 'loopholes' that they like to use; I don't really think they're loopholes, but making things more clear for these crooks and the people fooled by them can't hurt.

      Safety is simply not relevant. In the 'land of the free and the home of the brave,' safety is far less important than fundamental lib

      • by Endymion (12816)

        You may want to read that last line again...

        I'm not actually advocating an amendment; I'm suggesting that if powers were *actually needed* (then the public would likely be willing to work with the intelligence and law-enforcement communities. The fact that it's so obviously NOT an "actual need", that these unamerican cowards don't even TRY the lawful route and instead jump straight to dissembling and obfuscation betrays their guilty mind [wikipedia.org]. A "proof-by-contradiction", more or less.

  • then what have they got to hide ?

    At least: that is what we are being told. So if that is good enough for us, why is it not good enough for them ?

  • These cocksmokers are worse than the criminals.

  • "ssometimes strange, ssometimes strained."

    Lots of 'SS" going on. Did I Nazi what you did there?

  • by Dereck1701 (1922824) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @08:09AM (#47542209)

    This article sounds like it is beating around the bush, alluding to but never mentioning the discovery of "Parallel Construction". Its a policy whereby illegal evidence is snuck into court by using it to find other evidence and not informing the courts, defendants and sometimes not even prosecutors where the initial leads came from. An example would be there is a suspected drug runner, NSA intercepts are used to tap his phone & internet communications. They find what they believe is a date and time where the runner will be carrying some drugs in their car, they then have some officers make up an excuse to pull them over and search their car. They conveniently "forget" however to tell anyone outside the law enforcement/intelligence community that their initial lead was based on warrant-less searches. And apparently many have the gall to say that it is a "It's decades old, a bedrock concept.", something tells me that if government agencies have to keep it secret from the courts its almost certainly illegal.

    • This article sounds like it is beating around the bush, alluding to but never mentioning the discovery of "Parallel Construction". Its a policy whereby illegal evidence is snuck into court by using it to find other evidence and not informing the courts, defendants and sometimes not even prosecutors where the initial leads came from. An example would be there is a suspected drug runner, NSA intercepts are used to tap his phone & internet communications. They find what they believe is a date and time where the runner will be carrying some drugs in their car, they then have some officers make up an excuse to pull them over and search their car. They conveniently "forget" however to tell anyone outside the law enforcement/intelligence community that their initial lead was based on warrant-less searches. And apparently many have the gall to say that it is a "It's decades old, a bedrock concept.", something tells me that if government agencies have to keep it secret from the courts its almost certainly illegal.

      From the perspective of the agency doing the enforcement and helping bring a case to court, what's the difference between this and any other lead that's not directly usable as evidence, such as an anonymous tip? If the evidence is all properly and legally obtained, well I'm not sure this notion of an "illegal" tip is relevant.

      Look, I don't know the exact methods used to do parallel construction, but I do see how it can be done legally, and IMO not infringing on your rights. There shouldn't be a distinctio

      • regardless the particular methods I used to build that confidence.

        That matters a lot, because otherwise, they can just get everything they need through lawless means.

      • Because parallel construction would arguably make the information fall under the 'fruit of the poisonous tree' because the anonymous tip is coming form the government or someone effectively in their employ. If we allowed that, it would effectively be a complete end-around to the fourth amendment.
  • It makes sense, right? From the pov of the natsec people, these things help them secure the nation against potentially catastrophic attacks. From the pov of the LEOs , these represent the natural progression of tools they use to catch some pretty dangerous people, some of whom may also represent a significant danger to the nation, so why should they be deprived of their utility? Both sides can only be expected to strongly advocate for their side. You need 3rd party adjudication in this scenario. In gene

One man's constant is another man's variable. -- A.J. Perlis

Working...