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Communications Government Privacy United States Your Rights Online

FBI Violated Electronic Communications Privacy Act 285

An anonymous reader writes to tell us of a report from the Washington Post which alleges that the FBI "illegally collected more than 2,000 US telephone call records between 2002 and 2006 by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist or simply persuading phone companies to provide records." The report continues, "E-mails obtained by The Washington Post detail how counterterrorism officials inside FBI headquarters did not follow their own procedures that were put in place to protect civil liberties. The stream of urgent requests for phone records also overwhelmed the FBI communications analysis unit with work that ultimately was not connected to imminent threats. ... FBI officials told The Post that their own review has found that about half of the 4,400 toll records collected in emergency situations or with after-the-fact approvals were done in technical violation of the law. The searches involved only records of calls and not the content of the calls. In some cases, agents broadened their searches to gather numbers two and three degrees of separation from the original request, documents show."
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FBI Violated Electronic Communications Privacy Act

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  • by Fujisawa Sensei ( 207127 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:02PM (#30820072) Journal

    Where were the T-parties? Where is Fox news? Why are they not protecting our constitutional rights and going after the people who committed these felonies against the our citizens?

    Oh, that's right. The only protest people they think are liberals, who want things like health care, and believe in the rule of law. When a conservative administration breaks the law its for our own good. My bad.

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:3, Informative)

    by cbiltcliffe ( 186293 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:18PM (#30820326) Homepage Journal

    It's my boss's job to make sure I'm not breaking the law? WTF?

    I'm sure he'll be happy to know that.

    No...it's your job to make sure you're not breaking the law. Especially when you work in law enforcement.

  • Re:Who cares... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:19PM (#30820352) Journal

    none of those involved with making or receiving the phone calls were inconvenienced

    I'm inconvenienced when my tax money goes to bullshit like this, especially when the FBI was already having trouble paying for the wiretaps they actually needed [arstechnica.com].

    If it had discovered a plot to blow up some major building and those involved were arrested the FBI would probably have been hailed as heroes and given medals.

    And making up fake terrorism threats would have discovered one?

  • by ThrowAwaySociety ( 1351793 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:29PM (#30820456)

    Unless you are trying to show how effective the counter-terrorism operations have been, it's unclear exactly what your numbers are meant to show.

    Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
    Lisa: That’s specious reasoning, Dad.
    Homer: Thank you, dear.
    Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
    Homer: Oh, how does it work?
    Lisa: It doesn’t work.
    Homer: Uh-huh.
    Lisa: It’s just a stupid rock.
    Homer: Uh-huh.
    Lisa: But I don’t see any tigers around, do you?
    Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

  • Re:Duhh... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:51PM (#30820748) Journal

    What if I don't want to be part of the risk pool? What if I'd rather have the money my employer is going to spend on health insurance in my paycheck instead? The mandate is unpopular specifically because it takes away our freedom of choice.

    Besides which, costs won't go down. Costs aren't going up because we don't have everybody in the same risk pool. Costs are going up because we've built a system that requires the involvement of several different layers of bureaucracy (public and private) before a simple bill for an office visit can be paid. Costs won't come down until people realize the absurdity of a system that uses insurance (a product designed to protect against catastrophe) to pay for routine expenses.

    Can you imagine a system wherein your car insurance paid for oil changes? What about one where your homeowners insurance paid to shovel your sidewalks in the winter? Do you think that such a system might cost more than paying for those services out of your own pocket?

    There's a really good article [theatlantic.com] in The Atlantic that looks at this problem. A problem that has been completely ignored during the debate about health care in DC. Give it a read, it'll be well worth your time.

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:3, Informative)

    by webweave ( 94683 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @01:14PM (#30821102)

    Kent State? May 4th 1970 Ohio National Guard from over 300 feet away fires into a crowd of unarmed students killing four, one student is shot in the back and one student not involved it the protest is killed from a stray bullet. Courts said the Guard was justified killing the unarmed and distant students and not even an apology was issued.

  • by evil_aar0n ( 1001515 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @01:38PM (#30821420)

    > Law enforcement officers are not above the law.

    Sure they are. Two recent events:

    1. I'm driving a little behind a NY state trooper on the expressway. I'm in the normal lane, on the right, and the trooper's in the passing lane, though he's not passing anyone; he's just cruising, there. A county sheriff comes up behind us, lights and siren going, in the passing lane, and the statie does nothing: doesn't move over to the right lane, doesn't speed up, doesn't slow down - nothing. After following the statie for a few seconds, the sheriff had to dodge into the right lane to get around him.

    2. I'm in my home town, making a turn onto a 2-lane stretch leading out of town. Speed limit is 30 for at least half a mile. A police officer from another town turns onto the same street, right behind me and then - no lights, no siren - just blazes up street, leaving me in the dust, though I was doing 35.

    The police are definitely above the law - at least in their own minds.

  • by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @01:41PM (#30821464) Journal

    But if there is no real penalty being applied when this happens, can it really be considered illegal?

    The FBI has been repeatedly caught doing these and other things such as using NSL's improperly, and even lying to Congress, and yet I never hear "and so and so who did it went to jail" or even "and those involved were fired".

  • Re:Duhh... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:35PM (#30822314) Journal

    About a year ago I was in a motorcycle accident. A simple lay-down that resulted in a broken leg. I was taken to Stanford hospital and put in a cast. The cast wasn't holding the bone in place, so they inserted a plate and screws. A complication arose: compartment syndrome. Five surgeries and two weeks later, I went home. Total bill: $290,000. Total amount I paid: $0.

    That's a bad example to make to justify mandatory health insurance. Injuries of that nature would have been covered under your motorcycle/automobile policy. In fact if you read your health insurance policy it almost certainly has an exclusion for situations where another insurance company is liable for your injuries.

  • Re:Duhh... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:45PM (#30822502) Journal

    Again, profit cannot be present in a place where the most important thing is to cure people.

    If profit isn't present then I think you'll see the quality of the health care system go down. What do you think motivates many people to get into medicine?

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"