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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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  • 2000+ Felonies? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by macemoneta ( 154740 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @11:39AM (#30819720) Homepage

    Aren't these violations felonies? If so, then why are criminals employed by the FBI instead of in prison? If not, then (aside from the invasion of privacy), what's the problem?

  • Re:Told you so! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @11:59AM (#30820030)

    Why will Obama not Deny that he signed each one of these requests? I have heard that several of them were related to Glen Beck killing and raping a young girl in 1990. []

    Why won't Glen Beck Deny that he raped and killed a young girl in 1990? And why won't President Obamba deny that he signed each one of these orders personally?

    (ever notice how when the last administration was in, certain people got mad, and corrected you that "It is PRESIDENT Bush", and those same people call our current president by his last name, or even worse, his first-middle-last.. Even if you don't respect the person, you have to respect the position, damnit. During the Campain, President Clinton came to my small town.. Some people wrote in nasty editorials about referring to him as President, when our President was PRESIDENT Bush. the newspaper had to explain that president is a title for life, and that its actually encoded into law somewhere...)

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:02PM (#30820082) Homepage Journal

    Seen many terrorists in your neighborhood? Don't count the ones in your family portrait now!!

    So - you're willing to surrender your rights, and cower in fear of terrorists, and you've NEVER SEEN ONE!!


    Personally, I refuse to surrender my rights. Hell - every harbor town I've ever seen was populated by freaks of some kind or another, but I still walked the streets like I owned them. Chicago, New York, and LA are populated by thieves, robbers, whores, and worse - especially after the sun goes down. I should fear going out?

    Funny - I don't fear what I HAVE seen, but you fear what you HAVEN'T seen.

    Imagine that. Can I get you some more Kool-Aid, dude?

  • Heh, nice. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:09PM (#30820184) Homepage

    So too, in this case, I have to wonder what the benefit of having "civil liberties" is if the end result is being killed by a terrorist attack.

    Actually, according to TFA, all these "nonexistent emergencies" and requests for records having nothing to do with actual terrorism overloaded the FBI's communications analysts, which one can reasonably guess hindered their efforts to find actual terrorist threats.

    Oh but don't let practical consequences get in the way of that pretty "Liberty or Safety" false dichotomy. I mean it's so nice and obvious if you don't think about it even the tiniest bit.

  • Re:Duhh... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by svtdragon ( 917476 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:19PM (#30820336)
    And people with practical foresight knew that no system can make insurance companies cover you, in spite of preexisting conditions, unless they had a mandate of some kind. The logical way that he could have done so would've been an employer mandate, but in a way you're forcing business owners to buy it, and they're people too. So no matter what you'll have some people upset.

    I happen to prefer the employer mandate, but *some* form of mandate is absolutely necessary to avoid a death spiral in the industry (ie, I have no insurance, I get sick, buy insurance 'til I'm better, drop it again; if everyone does this the risk pool gets so poor that premiums are even more absurd, leading more to drop coverage, and eventually insurance premiums end up as a proxy for hospital bills).

    As far as the healthcare bill being a bailout to Wall Street and the insurance companies, take a look at their profit margins. They're around 3%. What we're talking about is $900B in subsidies to people who can't afford insurance on their own:

    Insurance stocks [rose 3.40%] on news of healthcare deal [] [...] The 3.40 percent net gain translates into about $3.34 billion in market capitalization added. [...] This would mean that the total value added from passage of the bill is $16.04 billion. [...] That's a lot of money: $16 billion. But relative to the total outlay from the bill, it is fairly small. Over the course of the next ten years, the Senate's bill directs about $447 billion in public subsidies to people for the purchase of private health insurance. (This is in addition to another $400 billion or so in subsidies for the expansion of Medicaid). The $16 billion in value-added, therefore, represents about 3.6 percent of the subsidy. Coincidentally -- and it is mostly a coincidence, since the numbers are not directly comparable for a variety of reasons -- this compares rather neatly to the 3.3 percent profit margin in the health insurance industry overall.

    This is not to mention the fact that after passage, the stocks were down [] in the net, but the math about the percentage of the subsidy that actually profits insurers is the important bit.

  • by tehdaemon ( 753808 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:58PM (#30820850)
    Nonsense. They don't really give a damn about our freedoms. They want the US a)out of Muslim nations, and b)to stop helping Israel. The idea that they hate us for our freedoms is mostly crap. They do hate us for being infidels, part of that is the fact that we don't enforce sharia law, so in a roundabout way they are against our freedoms, but not really.


  • by The Atog Lord ( 230965 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @01:27PM (#30821292)

    If I were caught speeding, could I justify that by telling the officer who pulled me over that I was stressed?

    Now, imagine that instead of speeding, I were instead violating the Constitution of the United States. For a period of several years.

    We have rules and laws to prevent this from happening. But if there are no consequences for the people and agencies who violate our rights, then those rights have no teeth. The people who have done this to us should be prosecuted.

  • Suggested Readings: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by foobsr ( 693224 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:24PM (#30822094) Homepage Journal
    "The narrator inhabits a paranoid dystopia where nothing is as it seems, chaos seems to rule all events, and everyone is deeply suspicious of every one else. In danger of losing his mind, our protagonist starts keeping a diary, and it is this diary which details only a few days in his life that is ultimately found by a future society and given the title Notes from the Neogene. Memoirs Found in a Bathtub is this distant voice from the past, this Notes from the Neogene." []

    Also probably anything by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky [], who were originally targetting the Soviet Union. Well, US is SU looking backwards.

  • by Rasputin ( 5106 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:32PM (#30822268) Homepage

    "Deliberate illegal acts should lead to jail time. Law enforcement officers are not above the law."

    Yeah, the problem is Barack Obama chose not to pursue the crimes of the Bush Administration. He believed that doing so would cause a Republican backlash. It is an understandable strategy, but leaves no room for JUSTICE. It also hasn't prompted the right-wingers to cut him any slack.

  • Re:Duhh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @03:56PM (#30823600)
    First, I wish I had mods points for the people above you in the thread. Costs don't go down if everyone has to be in the pool. Just one trivial example why: people who aren't covered now don't go to the ER when they get sick, they don't participate in the medical system at all and they get better all by themselves. (And if you don't believe this, why were hospital ERs deluged to the point they had to refuse admittance to people with the flu this last fall?) A few years ago I had a cut that I went to the ER to deal with, which I would NOT have bothered had the Home Depot where I was injured not said "go to the ER, we'll cover it" (which they then refused to pay a dime for, asshole Home Depot.)

    About a year ago I was in a motorcycle accident.

    So YOU are one of those high-risks that everyone else has to pay for when you get hurt having your fun. You get the fun of riding, I get the fun of working to pay to fix you when you get broken. This is a perfect example of why some people want to opt-out of having to pay for health care for other people. They don't ride death-traps, they don't jump out of perfectly good airplanes, they don't inhale burning vegetable matter, they don't try to ride on top of waves, they don't drown their bodies in depressants or strange elixers that make them feel invincible.

    They would rather spend the money they worked for on a new TV instead of paying for your surgeries that were necessary only because you like to ride motorcycles.

    Why should your costs be ZERO? Why shouldn't you have a healthy co-pay? Hell, even the cut I went to the ER for cost me 20% of the total, and I was doing nothing more dangerous than standing in the checkout line at Home Depot.

    Point is, insurance isn't the sucker's bet that a lot of people seem to think.

    Whether it is a sucker's bet depends on the odds, and if you choose to do risky things that changes the odds and makes insurance less of a bet and more of a "get out of jail free" card.

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