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Electronic Frontier Foundation Government Privacy The Courts United States Your Rights Online

EFF Uncovers Widespread FBI Intelligence Violations 268

An anonymous reader writes "EFF has uncovered widespread violations stemming from FBI intelligence investigations from 2001 — 2008. In a report released today, EFF documents alarming trends in the Bureau's intelligence investigation practices, suggesting that FBI intelligence investigations have compromised the civil liberties of American citizens far more frequently, and to a greater extent, than was previously assumed. Using documents obtained through EFF's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation, the report finds: Evidence of delays of 2.5 years, on average, between the occurrence of a violation and its eventual reporting to the Intelligence Oversight Board; reports of serious misconduct by FBI agents including lying in declarations to courts, using improper evidence to obtain grand jury subpoenas, and accessing password-protected files without a warrant; and indications that the FBI may have committed upwards of 40,000 possible intelligence violations in the 9 years since 9/11."
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EFF Uncovers Widespread FBI Intelligence Violations

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  • WTF (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @09:56PM (#35052662) Homepage Journal

    The FBI has abused its power since its inception. COILTELPRO ring a bell? The FBI has been used to investigate the political enemies of powerful politicians since before most of us were even born. Why should it come as a surprise to anyone to find out that they're still doing it?


  • by alleycat0 ( 232486 ) on Sunday January 30, 2011 @11:32PM (#35053134) Homepage

    Although the Church Committee ostensibly ended COINTELPRO in 1971, revelations such as these that surface every few years make it clear that such tactics have *never* been abandoned by the FBI.

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Monday January 31, 2011 @12:25AM (#35053388)

    That "new math" you don't understand is the simple arithmetic and multiplication the rest of us learned before they let us *into* high school.

    Summary for you, the idiot:

    1. The data the EFF isn't everything and doesn't claim to be everything, however 33% of the potential violations in that data are NSL violations.
    2. Back in 2008, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine told the House Judiciary subcommittee that a 10% review of FBI field office NSLs found 640 potential NSL violations from 2003 to 2006.
    3. Oh look primary school math: (640 * 10) / 4 * 8 * 3 = 38,400. Or in words, if 10% were 640 then there were 6400 potential NSL violations over 4 years, so 1600 per year. So over the 8 years the EFF data is for 12800. Those type are 33% in the EFF data so multiply by 3 for 38400.

    And yes that's extrapolating an extrapolation. But that make that very clear in their report.

  • by afaik_ianal ( 918433 ) * on Monday January 31, 2011 @12:30AM (#35053416)

    Just look at what's happening in other countries with different systems of election.

    Lets see:

      * Australia. Lower house is representative preferential, upper house is technically preferential too, but with a proportional bent (multi-seat voting). While there are two main parties in Australia, neither has a majority in either house. Until recently, there was a viable third party - a role slowly being taken up by the Greens at the moment. Lower house has a significant number of Independents. There are a number of instances of seats being won by candidates who polled quite badly on their primary vote, but were outright preferred over the major parties.

    * Holland. Bicameral proportional system, with 10 parties in each of their two houses of parliament. Neither house is controlled by a majority. In fact no *two* parties could even band together to form a majority in either house.

    * New Zealand. Unicameral proportional system with direct representation: Single house with 50% representative FPP seats, and 50% "list" seats which are granted to parties in such a way that parliament becomes proportional. Again, currently two main parties, but neither has a majority of seats. Parliament is made up of 8 parties in total.

    * Switzerland. Bicameral proportional: 6 parties in each house, with the greatest proportion being 31%.

    Compare with:
      * USA: Bicameral FPP with separate executive. Each house is made up of exactly 2 parties. One party, "the winner", holds an absolute majority, while the other party, "the loser" holds virtually no power. The only saving grace is the split terms of the senate, where you might get lucky and have each house independently controlled ("a tie"). In such cases, the two parties are said to "compromise", by filibustering.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 31, 2011 @01:29AM (#35053736)


    "In 1886, the Supreme Court, in Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway Company v. Illinois, found that the states had no power to regulate interstate commerce. The resulting Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 created a Federal responsibility for interstate law enforcement. The Justice Department made little effort to relieve its staff shortage until the turn of the century, when Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte reached out to other agencies, including the Secret Service, for investigators. But the Congress forbade this use of Treasury employees by Justice, passing a law to that effect in 1908. So the Attorney General moved to organize a formal Bureau of Investigation (BOI or BI), complete with its own staff of special agents. The Secret Service provided the Department of Justice 12 Special Agents and these agents became the first Agents in the new BOI. Thus, the first FBI agents were actually Secret Service agents. Its jurisdiction derived from the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887.[17][18] The FBI grew out of this force of special agents created on July 26, 1908 during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Its first official task was visiting and making surveys of the houses of prostitution in preparation for enforcing the "White Slave Traffic Act," or Mann Act, passed on June 25, 1910. In 1932, it was renamed the United States Bureau of Investigation. The following year it was linked to the Bureau of Prohibition and rechristened the Division of Investigation (DOI) before finally becoming an independent service within the Department of Justice in 1935.[17] In the same year, its name was officially changed from the Division of Investigation to the present-day Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI." Wikipedia

    FBi agents were also not allowed to carry firearms until June 18, 1934. SO the first crop of agents were NOT allowed to shoot first and ask questions later. Additionally, the BOI, later renamed to FBI had incredibly restricted powers. It was not until the "lawless year" that the FBI started to grow in power and until the Lindburgh kidnapping, they had very very little.

  • Re:Wrong argument (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 31, 2011 @01:42AM (#35053772)

    Er.. wrong.

    The U.S. Constitution defines quite specifically 4 things:

    1) Liberties granted to US citizens

    2) Formation of a governmental structure

    3) Powers granted to said structure

    4) Limitations of powers on said structure

    If you are unsure of what the liberties are, I can quote a couple for you. Limiting the powers of the government IS the essential building block of granting civil liberties.

    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and 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."

    "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Monday January 31, 2011 @02:13AM (#35053908)
    I wasn't the one that claimed surprise. But, the poster that did, pointed out that the abuses have been continues. As in there is no one alive today that has not seen it. Being born in 1920 means you saw it. Being born in 1930 means you saw it. Same for 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000. Everyone old know what the FBI is has seen abuses by the FBI. That was the OP's point.
  • by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Monday January 31, 2011 @02:59AM (#35054058)

    Until someone finds out that a questionable legal wire tap implicated them in some sort of crime, which could lead to serious jail time through new means, they could care less.

    So what you're saying is that they care at least a little bit?

    I'll let David Mitchell [youtube.com] elaborate.

  • Re:Them again? (Score:4, Informative)

    by witherstaff ( 713820 ) on Monday January 31, 2011 @08:50AM (#35055274) Homepage
    Sen Edward Kennedy [wikipedia.org] Although it looks like I misremembered and was way off on her profession, she had been a secretary and aide to his brother. Crash your car and someone drowns, leave the scene, and you get a commuted sentence? Now that takes some pull!
  • In related news (Score:5, Informative)

    by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Monday January 31, 2011 @08:59AM (#35055314)
    Republican Representative Darrel Issa wants the name of everyone who has filed a Freedom of Information Act request.

    Exhuming McCarthy, indeed.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor