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FBI Is the Worst FOIA Performer

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the mind-the-gap dept.

Privacy 92

krou writes "The National Security Archive at George Washington University has awarded its 2009 Rosemary Award to the FBI for worst freedom of information performance (PDF of the award). Previous winners have been the CIA and the Treasury. The NSA notes that 'The FBI's reports to Congress show that the Bureau is unable to find any records in response to two-thirds of its incoming FOIA requests on average over the past four years, when the other major government agencies averaged only a 13% "no records" response to public requests.' The FBI's explanation, according to the NSA, is that 'files are indexed only by reference terms that have to be manually applied by individual agents,' and even then, 'agents don't always index all relevant terms.' Furthermore, 'unless a requester specifically asks for a broader search, the FBI will only look in a central database of electronic file names at FBI headquarters in Washington.' Any search will therefore 'miss any internal or cross-references to people who are not the subject of an investigation, any records stored at other FBI offices around the country, and any records created before 1970.'"

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maybe they need a search appliance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27180003)

sounds like the need to buy one of those Google search appliances.....

Re:maybe they need a search appliance... (-1, Troll)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180053)

Sup, dawg! I herd you liek searchin' your records so I put a record in yo record so you can search while you searchin'!

Re:maybe they need a search appliance... (1, Insightful)

Ender_Stonebender (60900) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180133)

Good god, I hope this doesn't become a long-running meme (especially the misspelling of "heard"). If it does, I will make an effort to show up in every /. thread to post a reply to these saying "Wurst. Meme. EVAR. </comic book guy>"

Re:maybe they need a search appliance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27180835)

I think it's funny. :)

Re:maybe they need a search appliance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27181299)

It's already been a meme for at least like, over 9000 years.

Re:maybe they need a search appliance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27182255)

What?!? Over 9000!!!???

Re:maybe they need a search appliance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27184365)

SUP DAWG [encycloped...matica.com]

Re:maybe they need a search appliance... (1)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186155)

(especially the misspelling of "heard").

Sorry, I meant to spell it Hurd.

Re:maybe they need a search appliance... (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189273)

Good god, I hope this doesn't become a long-running meme (especially the misspelling of "heard").

GNU too?

Re:maybe they need a search appliance... (1)

TheoMurpse (729043) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190329)

The meme's been running for at least a year at a certain other website.

The only good one is Xzibit's face shopped onto Isaac Newton's head+wig with the caption "Sup dawg I herd u like calculus so we put a function inside yo function so you can derive while you derive."

The pun is on "drive" because Xzibit mods cars so crazily on his TV show that he might one day put a car in a car so you can drive while you drive.

In the show, there was once an energy drink dispenser that would only fit red bull or something and a popcorn machine installed in the cab so you could get energy and eat snacks while driving.

I think by explaining the joke, I've made it all the less funny... :(

Re:maybe they need a search appliance... (4, Insightful)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180119)

sounds like the need to buy one of those Google search appliances...

Yeah, but then they would have to hire someone to censor all of the search results manually, and would no longer have a good reason to deny FOIA requests.

On a side note, this explains how so much intel falls through the cracks of our nation's intelligence agencies, only to be discovered after something tragic occurs. [wikipedia.org]

Re:maybe they need a search appliance... (1)

sbrown123 (229895) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182141)

Falls through the cracks or is created after the fact as if to appear that they "could have done something if only they had more funding". I hate to be critical, but our intelligence agencies seem less focused on foreign terrorists than they are about citizens who may disagree with the government.

So basically... (4, Insightful)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180011)

the FBI can't find anything, because their agents didn't tag their reports.

Re:So basically... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180121)

Dilemma, both options bad: Either

The FBI's recordkeeping and information handling internally are as poor as for FOIA requests, which would mean that it has no coherent idea what is going on, and is thus only effective in cases where minimally coordinated local offices can do the job.

Or,

The FBI finds it convenient to know nothing when those pesky people with their "rights" come knocking; which would mean that they are a cabal of hooverite scum and a threat to liberty and transparency.

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27180853)

The FBI's recordkeeping and information handling internally are as poor as for FOIA requests, which would mean that it has no coherent idea what is going on, and is thus only effective in cases where minimally coordinated local offices can do the job.

That sounds like the modern FBI exactly.

The Hooverite scum was mostly kicked to the curb by Nixon, who appreciated operating in the shadows himself and didn't want people horning in on his turf.

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27181133)

Wrong. The Hooverite scum are still much in power. The Watergate scandal was "deep throat" manipulating Woodward & company to destroy the President, to show who was really in power.

Consider also the Clinton Travelgate, Ruby Ridge, the super-quick Waco coverup -who was *really* in charge? Janet Reno? Right...

No, the FBI is still the US's Praetorian Guard.

Re:So basically... (4, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 5 years ago | (#27181317)

Dilemma, both options bad: Either The FBI's recordkeeping and information handling internally are as poor as for FOIA requests, which would mean that it has no coherent idea what is going on, and is thus only effective in cases where minimally coordinated local offices can do the job.

Actually, that's not that unusual in large organizations; and is acerbated by government bureaucracy and funding methods. For eh really serious stuff, organizations are generally good at coordination, but there's a lot of other lower level stuff that gets done pretty much on a local level and never is seen elsewhere; so unless you know it exists through experience or an informal network (let me call Bob in New York and see what he knows) it is lost to the broader organization. Most government organizations would love google-like access and searching to their files because it would make their job easier and they'd be more effective; the reality is they don't have the money to buy the technology that enables that capability; TV and Movies aside many organizations are years behind the tech curve.

Or, The FBI finds it convenient to know nothing when those pesky people with their "rights" come knocking; which would mean that they are a cabal of hooverite scum and a threat to liberty and transparency.

My experience with government organizations is they really care about things like rights and liberty; probably more so than many of their fellow citizens and are willing to risk their lives defending their fellow citizens. Sure, there are a few bad apples, but that's not representative of the whole organization.

In the end, never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by bureaucracy.

Re:So basically... (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 5 years ago | (#27181919)

The FBI's recordkeeping and information handling internally are as poor as for FOIA requests, which would mean that it has no coherent idea what is going on, and is thus only effective in cases where minimally coordinated local offices can do the job.

That'd be it. See this article about the complete failure that came about when SAIC was hired to modernize the FBI's computer systems. $200M spent and nothing to show for it but a smoking crater. Both the FBI and the contractor appear to have screwed this one up big-time. Because of that, the FBI's information management is still basically stone age.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/17/AR2006081701485_pf.html

Re:So basically... (1)

ps2os2 (1216366) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190451)

When I was in college a "roommate" stole my wallet. I did not notice it until the next day. Needless to say he went on a crime spree and used my ID. Approximately 3 months later the FBI comes looking for me and I talk with them and I assure them I was not in this state or that state and that I was attending school and working on the dates in question. I get the bank (where I worked) to cough up my records and that proves to the FBI that I am not the person.
Fast forward 40 years and I file an FOI with the FBI to see what information they had on me and they came back ZIPPO. I was wanted in at least 3 states and the FBI tracked me down, yet they have zero on me. Me thinks the FBI has a poor memory.

Also... (5, Interesting)

cirby (2599) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180495)

They can't return anything from an FOIA request if they don't have anything on you.

I had a friend who was absolutely certain that the FBI had a bunch of stuff on him. He just knew that they were keeping tabs on him so they could "do something" if he ever got out of line.

The thing is, he'd never done anything. No criminal record, no tax issues, no affiliations with any group. He had some extremely mild anti-tax and anti-bureaucracy views, but didn't even talk about them that much, and never acted on them.

So when he filed his FOIA request for all records, he got back nothing. Which made him even MORE paranoid. So he filed another one, for all surveillance tapes and records that they'd "hidden" the first time.

I think he ended up filing three or four FOIA requests, until someone from the FBI came around and explained, very carefully, that he really wasn't very interesting.

Re:Also... (2, Insightful)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27181023)

They can't return anything from an FOIA request if they don't have anything on you.

I had a friend who was absolutely certain that the FBI had a bunch of stuff on him. He just knew that they were keeping tabs on him so they could "do something" if he ever got out of line.

The thing is, he'd never done anything. No criminal record, no tax issues, no affiliations with any group. He had some extremely mild anti-tax and anti-bureaucracy views, but didn't even talk about them that much, and never acted on them.

So when he filed his FOIA request for all records, he got back nothing. Which made him even MORE paranoid. So he filed another one, for all surveillance tapes and records that they'd "hidden" the first time.

I think he ended up filing three or four FOIA requests, until someone from the FBI came around and explained, very carefully, that he really wasn't very interesting.

Quite an interesting post.

Unfortunately, this is the necessary result of a culture of secrecy on the part of these organizations. They're assumed to know something, whether or not they really do. And if they claim to not have the information, they're assumed to be lying about not having it. People have good reason to make these assumptions, since these agencies have a history of doing exactly this.

Re:Also... (2, Insightful)

TheInsaneSicilian (134631) | more than 5 years ago | (#27181627)

They're assumed to know something, whether or not they really do.

Which is exactly how they want to be viewed.

Re:Also... (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27181813)

They're assumed to know something, whether or not they really do.

Which is exactly how they want to be viewed.

Of course, that works if they want to keep enemies on their toes. It isn't so great when they get mobbed with requests for info they really don't have, since the requestors don't believe the "no" and request again, sue in court, go to their elected officials, plot against their perceived enemy, etc.

Re:Also... (2, Informative)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27181981)

They can't return anything from an FOIA request if they don't have anything on you.

While it is true that there are likely many people requesting their own FBI file, only to discover that it doesn't exist, why didn't the FBI use that as an excuse? Instead, the article notes:

The FBI's explanation, according to the NSA, is that 'files are indexed only by reference terms that have to be manually applied by individual agents,' and even then, 'agents don't always index all relevant terms.'

Re:Also... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182153)

I think he ended up filing three or four FOIA requests, until someone from the FBI came around and explained, very carefully, that he really wasn't very interesting.

I think he can rest assured they have a file on him at this point. Win-win situation!

Re:Also... (2, Insightful)

EtherMonkey (705611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185033)

On the other hand, when you've had the FBI knock on your door at home and question your employer, you have a right to receive information on the cause and outcome of such investigations. Ditto for instances where the FBI has questioned you as a witness on a matter that might not be related to you personally.

For the FBI to come back and say it can't find any related records is both disingenuous and frustrating. One can appreciate how this can result in paranoia.

Re:Also... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27185481)

he really wasn't very interesting.

Give me 5 minutes with his hard disk and I'll dig up some interesting stuff!

Re:So basically... (1)

ivucica (1001089) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187231)

Semantic FBI!

Re:So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27189073)

Google Search Appliance, perhaps?

http://www.google.com/enterprise/gsa/

Move along. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27180017)

Nothing to see here.

congrats (3, Informative)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180021)

At least you won an award for your sucking...

Re:congrats (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180031)

Hoover would be proud!

Re:congrats (0, Redundant)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180259)

Dam that's funny.

Re:congrats (-1, Troll)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180125)

Who the fuck modded this troll? The guy just summed the fucking point of the award. This proves the illusion of freedom in the States and you wonder why nobody wants your "freedom".

Re:congrats (3, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180147)

I guess you'd know a troll when you see one...

Re:congrats (-1, Troll)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180373)

Yeah because it's not true that the FBI, CIA and Treasury are hiding information that according to law should be published for anyone to view. Where did you say you were from?

Why would this surprise anyone? (4, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180027)

I mean, would you think the FBI would be willing to let the citizenry know about ******* and ***** and ***** ***** *******? That would pose a massive security risk to ****** **********, and couldn't be allowed under any circumstances.

Re:Why would this surprise anyone? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27180397)

I love madlibs!

Re:Why would this surprise anyone? (-1, Troll)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180503)

Censorship is great for americans, it helps them not to worry too much. You don't want to worry too much or you might hurt your itty bitty head. Remember we're discussing american agencies here so don't scream Hitler just because I dropped the A-bomb. Haha--that's funny.

Re:Why would this surprise anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27183125)

http://www.cyfernet.org/4htech/mission/02-08-Bridges/ [cyfernet.org]

Here is a bridge for you to live under. This should be a significant upgrade from the bridge you currently live under (it also appears vacant).

Nice excuses, now fix the problems (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180059)

"Great, you've identified the problem. Step 2 is washing it off."

what can they find? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27180079)

Can they find their asses? ;)

Kind of worrying for an intelligence agency

Not too surprising (4, Interesting)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180099)

The FBI has been one of the most technophobic federal agencies, if not THE most, being one of the last to finally get computers. Their regional offices do not coordinate with each other, so that an investigation into a New Orleans drug trafficking network will have no way of knowing about an investigation into a Seattle drug trafficking network involving the same people (which actually happened, IIRC). And it's only been since after 9/11 that they've really tried to have people at the HQ try to put pieces to together. Their focus has been on having field agents run investigations, not analysts like myself. That's just my $.02 anyway, YMMV, etc.

Re:Not too surprising (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27180151)

oh so you work for federal law enforcement? Nice, you fucking fascist. Fuck you. How can you sleep at night?

Re:Not too surprising (2, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180189)

You'd be surprised how easy it is get to sleep after eating a few babies. Knocks me right out. And I work in the intelligence community if that makes any difference to you.

Re:Not too surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27180297)

Actually, it does. Intel people don't bother me nearly as much as cops.

Re:Not too surprising (2, Insightful)

Unordained (262962) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180719)

Would cops bother you nearly as much if we fixed our laws to legalize what are currently consensual crimes (drugs, prostitution, etc.) and eliminate purely discretionary laws and arrest/contact quotas (which lead to cops only arresting public drunks if they annoy them, are someone they don't like, or would help fill that night's quota)? Would you regain your respect for our cops if they were employed protecting you from others, and had time to do that one job well? Would you regain your respect for our legal system if it weren't overburdened with those crap cases, and could take the time to really hear you out -- whichever side of the courtroom you're on?

Re:Not too surprising (1)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | more than 5 years ago | (#27181363)

I dunno about the GP, but you've nicely summed up the problems I have with law enforcement in this country.

And after last night's Jon Stewart interview of Jim Cramer, I've decided that we've got the wrong people in prison.

Re:Not too surprising (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 5 years ago | (#27183989)

Would cops bother you nearly as much if we fixed our laws to legalize what are currently consensual crimes

Just take a look at which organizations show up to protest drug legalization or decriminalization movements, and this will tell you all you need to know.

Re:Not too surprising (1)

EtherMonkey (705611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185521)

Would cops bother you nearly as much if we fixed our laws to legalize what are currently consensual crimes (drugs, prostitution, etc.) and eliminate purely discretionary laws and arrest/contact quotas (which lead to cops only arresting public drunks if they annoy them, are someone they don't like, or would help fill that night's quota)?

Why is this insightful? What makes you think that I consent to allowing prostitution or legal drug distribution in my neighborhood? And why are these called victimless crimes? Anyone unfortunate enough to live or work in an area where there's dealing or prostitution can testify on the destructive, anti-social aspects of these activities. And worse, the family and friends of those who get sucked in to prostitution and/or drug use can more than comment on how their loved ones are victimized by these vices.

I'm not going to go further off-topic but to ask how you would feel if it was your daughter, sister, girlfriend or wife spreading her legs every night for a dozen sleazy men every night to wind-up with enough money from her pimp to pay for her food, apartment and heroin?

Re:Not too surprising (1)

moortak (1273582) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188943)

Many of the unsavory aspects of drug distribution stem from its legal status.

Re:Not too surprising (1)

Cathbard (954906) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190251)

And aren't the laws doing just a bang up job of stopping it? Prohibition is such a great solution, just look at what alcohol prohibition achieved - marvelous. Now that alcohol is regulated instead of illegal it's easier to buy heroin than alcohol if you are a minor, the corner drug dealer doesn't ask for ID. Good thing too, that alcohol stuff is bad news. It's so much better for the youth to be on heroin and make smack dealers rich; I hate publicans (or whatever you americans call those self-opinionated, jumped up drug dealers that own bars). And it's great how making prostitution illegal has stopped that too. Wouldn't it be terrible to have that regulated? Think of the poor pimps; they wouldn't be able to look after their girls so well would they?

Re:Not too surprising (1)

Unordained (262962) | more than 5 years ago | (#27196291)

I'll respond to you point by point; as to off-topic, well, once a can of worms is opened ...

Insightful: you're not required to be right to be insightful. You can be insightful to, even by bringing wrong points to the table, just so they can be squashed.

Consent: what makes you think anyone needs your consent to do business in your neighborhood? You don't own the whole neighborhood, do you? You're welcome to tell them to stay off your lawn; in fact, I'll gladly help you protect your private property.

Victimless: you conflate the crime with the environment. Is the sale of alcohol inherently violent? Before prohibition, some people thought alcohol itself was directly to blame for violence; during prohibition, they realized that the illegality of alcohol was far, far worse. If you are assaulted by someone, whether sober or drunk, and you are not at fault, I will support your position: either they decided to assault you while sober, or they decided to abdicate their ability to make sound decisions by taking their drug of choice -- either way, it's their fault. You must be careful in pinning the blame for crime directly on drugs / guns / video games / whatever else -- people commit crimes, period.

Family: you have a right to spend money senselessly, even at the detriment of your loved ones. You have a right to become a couch potato, even if it hurts others (indirectly.) You have a right to be a workaholic, too. You have a right to commit suicide, for that matter. You do not, however, have the god-given right to bring the full force of the law (jail, or worse) upon your friends and family because you don't like the side-effects of their vices upon you. Would you appreciate being jailed because your friends and family feel hurt that you're spending more time watching tv than talking to them? Would you consider that appropriate? What if you can't even understand why they feel hurt by it? It's none of their business, but they decide to use their majority (physical power) to act on their belief?

Sucked into: what does everyone believe these so-called crimes "suck" people in? Did we get "sucked into" the world of IT? Do workers get "sucked into" construction jobs? Did you get "sucked into" watching your favorite show on tv? Did your neighbor get "sucked into" liking anal sex? It's easy to portray something you don't personally like or understand as somehow vicious, underhanded, or exploitative. Then you can say it's not the person's "fault" (which it wasn't anyway, not in that sense) that they're involved, and "help" them get out of it.

If it were me: how do I even answer that? You've made it clear how you would feel if it were you. I'll let you know how I feel when it is me, in an environment where it's legal and things have stabilized, how about that? But yes, on a logical (not emotional) basis, I would support my daughter's *right* to make that decision for herself. Maybe I would encourage her not to -- but would I approve sending her to jail for it? Hell no. Would I support fining her? No. Would I support having her repeatedly arrested, held for the night, and released, to "teach her a lesson"? No.

These are our loved ones, our friends, our family -- as you've pointed out -- that we're doing this to. If you want to help them out of concern and love, then do so -- with love, not law.

Re:Not too surprising (1)

Cathbard (954906) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190183)

But how would the private jail industry make any money if they couldn't fill their buildings with drug dealers? And how could the government cull minority groups from the "democratic" process if they don't have laws to target them? They need these laws don't you know?

Re:Not too surprising (2, Funny)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 5 years ago | (#27181349)

You'd be surprised how easy it is get to sleep after eating a few babies. Knocks me right out. And I work in the intelligence community if that makes any difference to you.

Damn. What agency do you work for? Our budget for baby's got cut in the last budget cycle. We have to read policy statements to get a good night's rest.

Re:Not too surprising (3, Informative)

evan_arrrr! (1406417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182919)

BABY. PLURAL: BABIES.

Re:Not too surprising (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180527)

Their focus has been on having field agents run investigations, not analysts like myself

I'd be curious to know how (if at all) the FBI's focus has shifted since the new administration came in. I've talked to other people in Federal law enforcement that say the focus shifted too much onto terrorism at the expense of other important missions (counter-intelligence and organized crime to name two). Are you still seeing this or is the new administration seeking a more balanced approach?

Re:Not too surprising (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180619)

Gee, if I was some government criminal perpetrating injustice on the citizenry, I'd have a similar system in place to maintain plausible deniability and an illusion of competence and integrity. Personal experience supports this interpretation.

Re:Not too surprising (1)

mariox19 (632969) | more than 5 years ago | (#27181469)

Their explanation is basically: "We try to put everything in a really good place, but often forget what we did with a thing when we go to look for it." Try that in court when the FBI is investigating you.

Re:Not too surprising (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185985)

I could relate an unfortunate number of megillahs regarding my personal experiences with my government servants. This misplacement of documents is one of the pillars of our infrastructure.

Re:Not too surprising (0, Troll)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180901)

I would assume that operating on a federal scale, having the entire fucking nation as your workspace, would require a vast amount of communication for coordination. Wait I just downtalked something american, does this make me a troll?

Re:Not too surprising (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27181115)

Downtalking Merkins on /. is insightful.

Re:Not too surprising (0, Offtopic)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27181661)

Leave pubic wigs out of this! They did nothing to you!

If (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180135)

If they can't find anything then
how do they know there's nothing to find?

Re:If (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#27181119)

http://www.fbi.gov/gotcha/archive/got051608.htm [fbi.gov]

Mr. Schiff: One of the first times the FBI used computers in an investigation was in the late 70s. Several companies wanting to help build California freeways were involved in rigging bids for concrete beams...

Mr. Marshall: "It's my understanding that computers are essential in whatever type of investigation you have."

Mr. Schiff: That's retired FBI Special Agent Hal Marshall...

Mr. Marshall: "Especially in coordinating information with other offices; information being specifically available in real time rather than trying to quire someone by the telephone or, in those days, we had teletypes."

Mr. Schiff: Investigators found out about secret meetings. Marshall says telephone records were subpoenaed and then reviewed by hand at first. Then he had a thought...

Mr. Marshall: "We're moving into a new era, let me call FBI Headquarters. I called FBI Headquarters and talked with the then new computer section and told them what we had and they said, 'Please send them to us so we can help you out.' And that is what happened."

Mr. Schiff: There were convictions and guilty pleas after computers helped prove anti-trust violations. I'm Neal Schiff of the Bureau and that's the FBI's Closed Case of the Week."

Yes, those computers... They solve crimes!

Federal Bureau of Investigation? (5, Interesting)

Aristophrenia (917761) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180153)

You would think that for an agency, that according to its name, deals with investigations that they would be a bit better at, well, investigating? Makes me wonder how they keep track of things internally as well. All that aside, maybe they should change their priorities. Perhaps putting number 10 a little high up to, you know, successfully perform the FBI's mission. 1. Protect the United States from terrorist attack 2. Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage 3. Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes 4. Combat public corruption at all levels 5. Protect civil rights 6. Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises 7. Combat major white-collar crime 8. Combat significant violent crime 9. Support federal, state, local and international partners 10. Upgrade technology to successfully perform the FBI's mission Taken from http://www.fbi.gov/quickfacts.htm/ [fbi.gov]

Re:Federal Bureau of Investigation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27180405)

You would think that for an agency, that according to its name, deals with investigations that they would be a bit better at, well, investigating?

Your list is wrong. Their real charter consists of only three items:

1. Be paid lots of money to sit on Limewire and other p2p networks all day while looking for kiddy porn and copyright infringers.

2. Pay crooks $250,000 to rat out other crooks to bungle overzealous "terrorism" investigations.

3. Be Catholic.

Re:Federal Bureau of Investigation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27181137)

Amen, brother. Mod that shit up, that's all they do anymore.

Incidentally, a lot of them are Mormons, too.

In other words, the FBI can't find their butts (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180155)

couldn't find their ass if you spotted them both hands. might as well put all their records in shoeboxes and label them "Stuff."

Re:In other words, the FBI can't find their butts (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180997)

You would think, eh?

Thing is, they do keep such a database, which works quite fine for those who have access to it.

The NSA? (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180157)

The NSA? Is this a joke?

Re:The NSA? (3, Informative)

krou (1027572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180187)

NSA in this context is "National Security Archive", not "National Security Agency".

Re:The NSA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27181831)

I'm pretty sure there is no such agency.

Re:The NSA? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190417)

And what about the TMAA?

Too Many Acronyms Agency?

We already have a TLA clash because the NSA and the NSA have the same TLA, so we have TMA.

I hope we don't have a FDA, we already have an FDA

(Federal Database of Acronyms, Food and Drug Administration)

Re:The NSA? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180251)

The joke is that you couldn't read the first 4 words of TFS. A new low for /..

Search: X-Files (4, Funny)

BiggoronSword (1135013) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180161)

Please expand my search to include "Agent Mulder," "The Smoking Man," and "Circus Freaks." I want to believe.

Re:Search: X-Files (4, Interesting)

Dolohov (114209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180361)

I know this is a joke, but I do wonder how many FOIA requests the FBI gets on subjects that they really don't have information on: UFOs, Batboy, etc. Do trash requests like that get counted?

Re:Search: X-Files (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194469)

"Trash requests"? You work for them, don't you?

"don't deny your beast inside."

FOIA Pblm is bad Enough, but ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27180247)

... it also means that they have severe trouble finding stuff for INTERNAL use. Sheesh!!!

That's ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27180287)

kdawson is the worst editor. I guess it goes hand in hand.

Nothing Before 1970 = Hoover = Reform Needed (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 5 years ago | (#27180851)

If the FOIA won't open up the FBI's OLD OLD OLD files, then reform is needed. The 1940s - 1950s stuff is history. That stuff should be fully open to the public--like a library--unless the FBI specifically claims an exemption for it.

The historians will index that stuff for the FBI. You can bet on that.

Such bullshit.

Re:Nothing Before 1970 = Hoover = Reform Needed (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188161)

never happen.
We might actually find out who shot JFK that way.

This reminds me... (1)

Jeffrey_Walsh VA (1335967) | more than 5 years ago | (#27181881)

of an old SNL skit (original cast). As I recall: a man walks into an FBI office and asks for the information they have on him. The agent (I think it was Akroyd) haphazardly looks through some files, and asks for help in the form of further details of what illegal activities he might be involved in. The man offers up several types of minor crime he has engaged in. The agent still finds nothing, then sends him away after getting contact info and assuring him they would let him know if they find anything. As soon as the man leaves, the agent makes an urgent call requesting follow-up on the man and the crimes he mentioned.

FOIA track record could be much better IF ONLY... (1)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184397)

... people didn't ask for sensitive information.

This is funny and stupid (1)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185311)

We see on the TV shows FBI agents looking up all sorts of crap on their computers that even Google couldn't find, whereas in reality these idiots barely even have a filing system, let alone any kind of sensible database.

They can't even find files actually stored in their branch offices! DUH! Most corporations would go out of business if they couldn't do that!

And this is what, after several multi-hundred million dollar attempts to upgrade their management information systems?

Your tax dollars at work.

That, and the fact that most of the time the FBI really doesn't want to release any information for their own reasons.

Stupid FBI (1)

theendlessnow (516149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186961)

The good news is that while being the worst at producing the documents, they also have the cleanest record.

Website Provides Guidemap to FBI Records Requests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27189107)

These two user friendly websites provide a guidemap to submitting a request for records from the FBI:

http://www.GetMyFBIfile.com

shows you how to get records on yourself

http://www.GetGrandpasFBIfile.com

shows you how to get records on anyone who is deceased, or for that matter a company, organization, event, sports team, criminal case, etc.

FBI FOIA (1)

foiler (946319) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189815)

I tried to be helpful on counter-terrorism a couple of times. Sent a letter to Washington, full return address, phone, etc. Made another suggestion to the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge Authority and got a visit from a special agent of the FBI. Sent him some more stuff by e-mail at his request. All since 9/11. FBI claims to have no record of any of it.

Not sure it's relevant (1)

reddburn (1109121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189959)

I'd be willing to be that they're also the recipient of more FOIA requests than any other two agencies combined. If that's so, then this may be as meaningless a statistic as any other. In addition, I'm sure that many of the requests relate to the late 1960s - which won't be found anyway.

Not a Priority (1)

kjm1984 (1500629) | more than 5 years ago | (#27193869)

I'm sure the FBI is ok taking a hit for "bad record keeping". I'm happy to contribute my taxes toward their real priorities: 1. Protect the United States from terrorist attack. 2. Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage. 3. Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes. 4. Combat public corruption at all levels. 5. Protect civil rights. 6. Combat transnational and national criminal organizations and enterprises. 7. Combat major white-collar crime. 8. Combat significant violent crime. 9. Support federal, state, county, municipal, and international partners. 10. Upgrade technology to successfully perform the FBI's mission.
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