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United States Crime Government Your Rights Online

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

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

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  • 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 sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @01:45AM (#47541503) Journal

    There is nothing in the constitution open to interpretation. All of it is to be understood in the language of when it was written and applied to the times of present. Free in the context of the first amendment means both, the government cannot prohibit or charge for the beliefs and practice of religion. There is nothing ambiguous about it when looked at in context.

    I do agree that the constitution can and should be amended instead of ignored or technicality'd away. If whatever that is currently unconstitutional cannot survive the amendment process, it should not be practiced until it does.

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @03:14AM (#47541641) Journal

    No word is open to interpretation. There is language and style that was in use at the time of writing the constitution and those are to be applied. Otherwise you could just redefine speech to mean a cracker and press to mean a candy bar and end up with Congress shall make no law: or abridging the freedom of crackers, or of the candy bars and do away with free speech altogether.

    If you think that is a silly idea, you should because it is. You claiming it is open for interpretation is silly too.

    Also, it doesn't specify that "free" is meant to be both, that is just your interpretation.

    Only if you ignore logic, reason and have an inability to construct anything meaningful of either could you say as much. The US constitution grants and prohibits abilities to the federal government. When it prohibits the federal government from doing something, it prohibits it from doing all forms of that something. "free exercise thereof" can have only one meaning, that the federal government (and the states due to the 14th) cannot do anything that would make it non-free in that exercise.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2014 @05:11AM (#47541861)

    If you think that is a silly idea, you should because it is. You claiming it is open for interpretation is silly too.

    It isn't a silly idea. Interpretation and meaning of words is a well established part of philosophy. What meaning words have varies a lot depending on the previous experience of the interpreter.
    Heck, even the Supreme Court [] disagrees with you.
    But whatever, it's not like it is their job to interpret the constitution.

  • 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.

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