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DEA Paid Amtrak Employee To Pilfer Passenger Lists

Unknown Lamer posted about a month and a half ago | from the have-to-break-the-law-to-protect-the-law dept.

United States 127

Via Ars Technica comes news that an Amtrak employee was paid nearly $900,000 over the last ten years to give the DEA passenger lists outside of normal channels. Strangely enough, the DEA already had access to such information through official channels. From the article: The employee, described as a "secretary to a train and engine crew" in a summary obtained by the AP, was selling the customer data without Amtrak's approval. Amtrak and other transportation companies collect information from their customers including credit card numbers, travel itineraries, emergency contact info, passport numbers, and dates of birth. When booking tickets online in recent years, Amtrak has also collected phone numbers and e-mail addresses. ... Amtrak has long worked closely with the DEA to track drug trafficking activity on its train lines. The Albuquerque Journal reported in 2001 that "a computer with access to Amtrak's ticketing information sits on a desk in the [DEA]'s local office," wrote the ACLU.

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Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (5, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653875)

This sounds like a case of the left hand doesn't know what the right is doing. While neither collection method sounds constitutional to me I am not surprised.

Let's guess who gets in trouble...
The employee selling the data..check (low level scape goat)
Maybe an IT guy that allowed excessive permission.. maybe he just gets fired...
Any DEA agents or upper level management who authorized illegal and warrant-less data collection? NO
Any Amtrak executives for allowing it to be provided (through the employee or the terminal in the DEA office?) NO
If we are lucky we will hear some strong words at a congressional hearing, and that will be the end of it.

Re:Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653919)

Well, let's look at the pattern in an attempt to predict the future:

Manning walks in and gets the data. Government doesn't learn from that ...

Snowden walks in and gets the data. Government doesn't learn from that ...

Now this guy ...

Re:Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (1)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653973)

No one. Because they'll say it was to protect national security and so everyone will just look the other way.

Re:Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (2)

penix1 (722987) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654043)

The one that needs to go to jail is the one whose signature is on the bottom of the checks.

[she was] paid nearly $900,000 over the last ten years to give the DEA passenger lists outside of normal channels

That's the part that is sickening to me.

CLASS ACTION TIME! (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654421)

hmmm, class action lawsuit? this is a security breach.

the DEA were the hackers here, they took personal data without permission. this should be a class action suit against both amtrak and the DEA. will some lawyer out there start writing it up???

Re:CLASS ACTION TIME! (1)

qbast (1265706) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655375)

Executive privilege bitches!

Re:Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654055)

Or log avoidance. The secure access station probably keeps detailed logs which could be used to reveal fishing expeditions, an out-of-channels approach like this leaves no paper trail which could then come back to bit someone.

Re:Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654449)

You might also use this method if you thought there was a mole in Amtrak's organization and didn't want to tip off drug traffickers that you were scrutinizing their routes.

Re:Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (2, Funny)

Khyber (864651) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654559)

Drug traffickers shouldn't have access to the Amtrak database which would allow them to see if they're being monitored in the first fucking place. What pseudo-IT nonsense are you talking about?

Re:Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655201)

He's speculating that the drug traffickers might have paid an Amtrak IT person to tell them if they were being monitored. That's what he meant when he said "mole in Amtrak's organization."

It's a plausible idea, but hardly justifies the DEA's action (especially since, if the DEA suspected a mole, they surely wouldn't have failed to find and remove him in that ten-year period -- or if they did fail at that, then they're incompetent and don't deserve to exist anyway!).

Re:Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655809)

"He's speculating that the drug traffickers might have paid an Amtrak IT person to tell them if they were being monitored"
"It's a plausible idea"

Plausible but hardly easy to pull off considering the DEA would watch you almost every minute after informing you until they've caught their guy.

Re:Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47655987)

He's speculating that the drug traffickers might have paid an Amtrak IT person to tell them if they were being monitored.

The drug trafficker's mole wouldn't tell them that the mules are specifically being monitored, but rather they'd submit false passenger data via the regional office system (or removing that data before it hits the main (DEA-linked) database.) The DEA'd be looking for differences between the two passenger lists, the one that reaches the official system, and the list in the regional office, to see if anyone in a regional office is playing with the data to hide traffic.

From the DEA's point of view, it's an independent data integrity test.

if the DEA suspected a mole, they surely wouldn't have failed to find and remove him in that ten-year period

The DEA's own mole was apparently limited to a single crew. So they'd only be able to check a small number of routes/trips at any given time. Essentially they'd be looking for a drug-mole in any regional office where the DEA-mole happened to be located at that time.

Re:Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (-1, Troll)

Khyber (864651) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654555)

"an out-of-channels approach like this leaves no paper trail"

Except for the logfiles that any solid OS should keep no matter what...

Which means OSX, Linux, Windows, MenuetOS - they all suck on basic security, just on that standpoint alone. A-grade encryption on logfiles and mandatory logs. If you do not possess this as a business, you're going to fail eventually.

So why are all of you win/mac/*nix zealots being so fucking obtuse?

You claim security, and this shit pops up. How the fuck are you going to deal with that, huh?

If Amtrak actually cared about security, this would have been seen months ago.

Open source isn't going to fucking save you from a paid mole with access. It might help you see who did something, but that's about it. If they're inside, you're fucked. Man can make it, man can break it.

And if you think management is actively watching (right down to the idiot admins,) I've got fifty Brooklyn bridges to sell you, a nickel a piece (actually 0.045 but we round up!)

Re:Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654863)

Logging this type of thing wouldn't be a matter for the OS, it'd be a matter for the database software. I know MySQL supports it, I imagine all major RDBM software does. Doesn't mean it was enabled.

Re:Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (0)

Khyber (864651) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655767)

I really think it should be a matter for the OS as well. Something at the more base levels of operation that make note of WTF is happening and log it. The database can have its own stuff, but it should also tell the OS, which should encrypt this stuff so only the truly authorized personnel can see it.

Of course, that doesn't stop my 'mole' attack if the mole has that level of access.

Re:Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654889)

"an out-of-channels approach like this leaves no paper trail"

Except for the logfiles that any solid OS should keep no matter what...

Which means OSX, Linux, Windows, MenuetOS - they all suck on basic security, just on that standpoint alone. A-grade encryption on logfiles and mandatory logs. If you do not possess this as a business, you're going to fail eventually.

So why are all of you win/mac/*nix zealots being so fucking obtuse?

You claim security, and this shit pops up. How the fuck are you going to deal with that, huh?

If Amtrak actually cared about security, this would have been seen months ago.

Open source isn't going to fucking save you from a paid mole with access. It might help you see who did something, but that's about it. If they're inside, you're fucked. Man can make it, man can break it.

And if you think management is actively watching (right down to the idiot admins,) I've got fifty Brooklyn bridges to sell you, a nickel a piece (actually 0.045 but we round up!)

What the hell are you on? You need to get your dosage checked, whatever it is.

Re:Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (0)

Khyber (864651) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655793)

I'm currently on "Oh, look, turns out my own stuff is fairly compromised because of this same scenario, and I sit here wondering how other companies are suddenly popping out with ideas I discuss internally with mine" panic mode. Thanks.

Turns out, a quick audit, oh, look, e-mails out to China with encrypted info.

Heads are rolling in the UK tonight.

You can't travel anonymously... (1, Interesting)

mi (197448) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654231)

This sounds like a case of the left hand doesn't know what the right is doing.

Why? Seems like exactly the opposite — DEA does know, Amtrak has the information, and DEA arranged for the information to be available to them at ease...

While neither collection method sounds constitutional to me I am not surprised.

I'm not surprised either, but I don't see, how this is unconstitutional. The Constitution has nothing on the right to travel and, if you ask a government official, you'll quickly realize, they consider traveling to be a privilege instead.

You can not buy an Amtrak ticket anonymously. And you can not give your ticket to anyone else. With air-tickets this fraud was put upon us (years before 9/11) with the argument, that the airline and the law-enforcement need to screen the passenger names against list of criminals — so they need to know all names in advance.

But most Amtrak tickets are purchased within hours before departure, AFAIK, so this argument would not hold.

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.

Thomas Jefferson

We need the traveling to be explicitly declared a right, that only the Judiciary can suspend after a trial — rather than a mere privilege, that the Executive can withdraw on their whim (such as by adding you to a "no-fly" list [slashdot.org] ) or, indeed, demanding to "see your papers" (and recording them for future use).

I can't see it happening any time soon, though. Bushitler-created TSA has only expanded under the Nobel Peace Prize Administration — and now insists on covering not just air-travel, but all mass transit [nytimes.com] . Driving a personal car has required a government permission for near a century, and being driven by someone else is increasingly difficult too [dailytech.com] .

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654295)

Everyday there is a new idiot on Slashdot, blinded by his sheer hatred for Bush, love of Obama and all things socialist who has no idea what the constitution is or what it stands for, and then makes this fact embarrasingly clear in public for all the world to see, and then point at him and laugh.

Actually had I the chance I would kick you. But alas I do not.

"The Constitution has nothing on the right to travel"

From wiki (but lower down from actual scholarly references indeed);

""The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States." As far back as the circuit court ruling in Corfield v. Coryell, 6 Fed. Cas. 546 (1823), the Supreme Court recognized freedom of movement as a fundamental Constitutional right. In Paul v. Virginia, 75 U.S. 168 (1869), the Court defined freedom of movement as "right of free ingress into other States, and egress from them."

The level of idiocy here continues to stun and amaze me every day.

No wonder you fucksticks voted for Obama and are willing to literally bend over and be probed by the state 'for your own goof'.

Lickspittle.

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47655489)

Everyday there is a new idiot on Slashdot, blinded by his sheer hatred for Bush, love of Obama

Did you actually *read* the comment you replied to?

The Bush hatred is there "Bushitler-created TSA" but if you *read the rest of the sentence* ..."...has only expanded under the Nobel Peace Prize Administration and now insists on covering not just air-travel, but all mass transit" it's pretty clear to anyone but a retard like you that this is intended as a sarcastic anti-obama comment. But I suppose reading to the end of the current sentence and understanding basic sarcasm are way beyond you....

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (0, Redundant)

N1AK (864906) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654381)

The Constitution has nothing on the right to travel and, if you ask a government official, you'll quickly realize, they consider traveling to be a privilege instead.

I appreciate that you aren't taking this position, just highlighting that it exists; however I think it is worth emphasising that the constitition does cover this.

9th Amendment "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

10th Amentment "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Now we both know that isn't how the government chooses to 'interpret' the constitution, however the issue there is their ability to willfully misinterpret not the lack of clarity. You simply cannot make the constitution complete enough and clear enough that your freedoms are protected. Have an amendment saying they can't stop you travelling and they'll just interpret that as being limited to walking ;)

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (0)

operagost (62405) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654463)

The fifth amendment also prohibits depriving people of their right to liberty without due process. I'm pretty sure that "liberty" involves moving about freely.

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655553)

We're not throwing you in jail without a trial, we're merely restricting your "privilege" to travel more than 6 feet in any direction.

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (1)

StikyPad (445176) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654483)

We already have freedom of movement [wikipedia.org] , which is enshrined in the Constitution, as interpreted by case law.

What we don't have is freedom of anonymous movement.

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (0)

Khyber (864651) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654773)

Freedom of movement is not freedom if it does not apply to all equally.

Like people on GPS bracelets to ensure they do not leave the state.

Doesn't matter about "They're fleeing justice!" FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT. Even fucking MEXICO got this right and it's not even explicitly stated (it's hidden as the right to seek liberty, which is why you bust out of Mexican jail, they can't charge you with another crime. Proof? Yea, check my international criminal record. Alex McQuown, 1982. Ain't but one of me from that year.)

Try again when you have been around the world, checked out the laws and rights enshrined within those laws, been arrested under those laws, and have an actual understanding of the court system that lets you walk away declared innocent.

I can still enter the UK despite my last trip causing a ton of problems with the Bobbies. I can still enter China despite making customs look like a fool. The only countries on the American landmass that are stupid about shit like this are the USA and Canada.

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655433)

Freedom of movement is not freedom if it does not apply to all equally.

Like people on GPS bracelets to ensure they do not leave the state.

I was under the impression that people were only required to wear GPS bracelets when they were on probation (or maybe on bond), as a "nicer" alternative to jail. Are you trying to claim that some people are being forced to wear GPSs in circumstances other than being ordered to do so by a court, or are you trying to claim that probation and/or bail are unconstitutional?

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655835)

"I was under the impression that people were only required to wear GPS bracelets when they were on probation (or maybe on bond), as a "nicer" alternative to jail."

Nope, you only need be under suspicion of a crime. All it takes.

Want the picture of the one currently around my ankle?

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (1)

mi (197448) | about a month and a half ago | (#47656073)

Nope, you only need be under suspicion of a crime. All it takes.

It takes a judge's decision — as the terms of your release before trial. Judiciary can suspend your rights. Executive should not be able to — but, in the case of travel, they do just that with the "no-fly" lists. Which was my point.

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (1)

mi (197448) | about a month and a half ago | (#47656049)

Like people on GPS bracelets to ensure they do not leave the state.

The bracelets are an alternative to being in jail — having your freedoms suspended by the Judiciary, not Executive. Executive can arrest you — limiting your freedoms temporarily — but they can not deprive a citizen of his rights for very long without a successful a successful trial.

Try again when you have been around the world, checked out the laws and rights enshrined within those laws, been arrested under those laws

I've been around the world quite a bit, but I have never been arrested. Nor do I accept that as a requirement to holding (and putting forth) an opinion.

I can still enter the UK despite my last trip causing a ton of problems with the Bobbies.

But Michael Savage can not [huffingtonpost.com] — without causing the Bobbies any problems whatsoever.

The only countries on the American landmass that are stupid about shit like this are the USA and Canada.

Stupid like what? Keeping understandables out? I would not call it "stupid" — quite the contrary — but, unfortunately, we aren't that. Not any more [reuters.com] ...

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655345)

We already have freedom of movement, which is enshrined in the Constitution, as interpreted by case law.

What we don't have is freedom of anonymous movement.

The law doesn't state you have freedom to use any means of transport available. You can be banned from airlines, trains, buses, and your rights technically aren't infringed because you can still walk or drive your car (assuming it's fully legal), or hitch a ride in a friend's vehicle.

So yeah, you have freedom of movement without regards to practicality.

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (1)

mi (197448) | about a month and a half ago | (#47656139)

The law doesn't state you have freedom to use any means of transport available. You can be banned from airlines, trains, buses, and your rights technically aren't infringed because you can still walk

If the First Amendment were interpreted this way, you could be banned from using newspapers or radio for your speech — and it would not have been an infringement, because you can still talk to your friends...

drive your car

Nope, that still requires a "driver's license" — a government's permission to drive your own car on any road, to which the public has legal access. And the Executive government can withdraw that permission without bothering with the Judiciary.

or hitch a ride in a friend's vehicle.

Nope, can't do that either. Not legally [dailytech.com] .

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (0)

mi (197448) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655975)

We already have freedom of movement [wikipedia.org], which is enshrined in the Constitution, as interpreted by case law.

In that case, the "no-fly" lists are, indeed, unconstitutional — and the ACLU are asleep at the wheel. Perhaps, having aligned themselves over the past decades with the Far Left of the American politics, they don't want to further hamper a Far Left President... Or, maybe, they are just disorganized and lacking decent members and funds — as eventually befalls all Far Left organizations, who don't manage to secure government funding while in their heyday.

What we don't have is freedom of anonymous movement.

Well, in that case we don't have a right to anonymous speech either. But numerous people on this and other forums would disagree — sometimes violently...

In my humble opinion, any right — speech, travel, carrying weapons — must be exercisable anonymously, or else it is not really a right at all, but a mere privilege.

Unfortunately, I — a first generation immigrant — have been rather disappointed by Americans generally agreeing, the government should be limiting certain rights with "common sense", even if "sometimes" it could go "over the top".

Yes you do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47656293)

You can travel via assumed or "borrowed" identity.

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (-1)

Khyber (864651) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654567)

"The Constitution has nothing on the right to travel"

The mere freedom of association includes by pretext the right to travel to associate.

Please try again when you have a real education.

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654785)

Not anonymously though. I've never heard of a rule that prevents the government from monitoring movement of people in public places, let alone movement of people using public transportation.

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47655721)

The fourth amendment? Ubiquitous cameras and facial recognition software may be able to circumvent anonymous travel and still be within the law (maybe), but if a government official demands you identify yourself, we should be able to say "no". Damn the authors of the constitution for including the word "reasonable".

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (1)

mi (197448) | about a month and a half ago | (#47656235)

The mere freedom of association includes by pretext the right to travel to associate.

A very explicitly spelled-out right to "keep and bear arms" is readily infringed upon all over the nation. Even the most liberal locales — like Texas — require you to obtain a license. And it can be suspended even there upon a mere accusation of a crime [texaschl.us] .

In less liberal locales — like New York — the Executive can withdraw the license at any moment and for any reason — or without reason at all. Says so on the document itself... In other words, over the generations even that right turned into a privilege.

And that, once again, is a right, that is quite explicitly enumerated in the Constitution — for better or worse. What are we to expect for a right, that exists (or not) only by implication and must be derived from another or, worse, from the well-meaning but nebulous 9th Amendment [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (1)

houghi (78078) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655805)

I'm not surprised either, but I don't see, how this is unconstitutional

If that is true, that is your problem right there. (I would say it would be against the Fourth Amendment as I would say it is an unreasonable search)

If there is nothing to protect your right to privacy, then you will have no privacy. To me if you do not have th right to privacy, all the other rights will be compromised.

Just ask a European what they think privacy is and you will see that it is much more that just the stuff you do at home when you are alone. It inclused everything you do and what defines you as a person. That is the startingpoint.

Re:You can't travel anonymously... (1)

mi (197448) | about a month and a half ago | (#47656327)

I would say it would be against the Fourth Amendment as I would say it is an unreasonable search

Oh, but "reasonable" is a term with such a wide interpretation, you drive a train through it — sideways...

Just ask a European what they think privacy is and you will see that it is much more that just the stuff you do at home when you are alone. It inclused everything you do and what defines you as a person. That is the startingpoint.

Ah, yes, the famous "why can't we be more like Europe" [brainyquote.com] whine.

Well, you can not board a train anonymously in Europe [raileurope.com] either — so, in that regard, we are "like Europe" already. Or do you believe, European police don't have access to the rail passengers?.. Of course, they do — and it does not even cause an outrage, unlike here...

You can't travel anonymously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47655847)

Paying someone to steal a database full of information is what would be illegal and unconstitutional if they did not have a warrant. Amtrak is within its right to sell the information to the DEA or share it willingly though.

Criminal Embezzlement or Breach of Contract (1)

Etherwalk (681268) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655063)

Actually, if the employee was selling Amtrak's proprietary information without Amtrak's consent and was keeping the money, they are guilty of embezzlement and DEA employees may be guilty of crimes related to arranging that activity, e.g. conspiracy or solicitation.

If the employee was selling Amtrak's proprietary information and giving the money to Amtrak, the DEA was breaching its contract with Amtrak. The DEA has to share the proceeds of drug busts based on information that comes from Amtrak with Amtrak, and this method circumvented that deal.

Re:Let's play the who goes to jail game.... (1)

INT_QRK (1043164) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655231)

Key questions include: a. what budget line item did the $900K come from?; b. what did the funding justification documentation look like?; and, c. at what level was this approved, and by whom? If DEA has so much money laying about that they can toss it around without adult supervision, then I suggest that there may be some oversight committees who might want to have some hearings.

ATTENTION K-MART SHOPPERS AND WINDOWS USERS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653901)

Don't miss out, there are, FREE patches to soothe, your ravaged, souls. Come and, be, WHOLE again.

windowsupdate.microsoft.com

Re:ATTENTION K-MART SHOPPERS AND WINDOWS USERS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654061)

Don't miss out, there are, FREE patches to soothe, your ravaged, souls. Come and, be, WHOLE again.

windowsupdate.microsoft.com

WTF?

Re:ATTENTION K-MART SHOPPERS AND WINDOWS USERS (0)

alex67500 (1609333) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654131)

Don't miss out, there are, FREE patches to soothe, your ravaged, souls. Come and, be, WHOLE again.

windowsupdate.microsoft.com

WTF?

Probably a guy whom the DEA would be interested to meet if you ask me... ;-)

RIP Robin Williams (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653907)

NT

Re:RIP Robin Williams (-1, Offtopic)

Khyber (864651) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654823)

I really don't know why people would mod this down, considering Robin Williams was a huge, HUGE fucking geek/nerd.

The man actually asked *ME* for an interview regarding my zero-light fodder technology because he wanted to know how it worked. Fuck yea I told him, and he kept my secret, like I'm keeping his.

You ignorant fucks don't even know that Robin was more of a geek/nerd than 3/4 of this site.

Dude understood x86 ASM and fixed my realtime guitar tuner waveform analysis program.

Take your ignorance and shove it up your own asses.

RIP oh Zelda player and ASM fudger (yea, the solution wasn't optimal. It still worked and didn't introduce security vulns.)

independent verification? (2)

jc42 (318812) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653911)

Maybe it's just a case of what the news industry calls "independent verification". Of course, the way it typically works is that the original source X passes copies to friends Y and Z, who slightly paraphrase the wording and send it in to the news organization through different channels. X, Y and Z then all get paid for their work. Governmental information agencies have long understood how this "verification" process works.

Re:independent verification? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654065)

Maybe it's just a case of what the news industry calls "independent verification".

And what I like to call "the ever expanding surveillance state".

It boils down to "fuck it, collect everything, from anywhere, without warrant or oversight, and figure out if you have anything interesting later".

Kind of the opposite of the 4th amendment it seems.

Robin Williams (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653927)

When I heard of the unfortunate loss of this great man all I could think was "Why couldn't it have been Slashdot Beta?"

Re:Robin Williams (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653957)

When I heard of the unfortunate loss of this great man all I could think was "Why couldn't it have been Slashdot Beta?"

How can a website die of autoerotic asphyxiation?

Former drug runner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653951)

It is so obvious, too. I would have cops waiting when I boarded, dogs walking the perimeter at only my final destination, and even had friends harassed simply because the wrong credit card paid for their ticket. Easy enough to get off a stop or two early, or board later on the route than the ticket suggested. Not once was I hassled in transit.

20 years, not 10. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653955)

article says "nearly 20 years" not "last 10 years"

Robin Williams dead (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653961)

Robin Williams dead; family, friends and fans are 'totally devastated'

Robin Williams dead; family, friends and fans are 'totally devastated'

Robin Williams dead; family, friends and fans are 'totally devastated'

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/08... [cnn.com]

How is that possible? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653981)

Do people really have to provide passport numbers and dates of birth to get on the train in America? Unbelivable.

Re:How is that possible? (2)

Shados (741919) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654155)

Only if the train crosses a border that requires it. Amtrak trains go to and from Canada.

Otherwise its pretty much like buying a bus ticket, except they only check the ticket while the train is on its way instead of at the entrance.

Re:How is that possible? (1)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654313)

I'm surprised their are passenger trains at all in other parts of the country... Here in PA, Philly I think is the only city with passenger train service through Amtrak. Oh sure, we have lots of rail lines (I drive over 6 sets of tracks every day), but those are exclusively industrial transportation and not passenger lines...

Re:How is that possible? (1)

jratcliffe (208809) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655155)

Amtrak runs from Philly West to Pittsburgh, and from there north toward Cleveland and south toward DC. Lots of stops through central PA. There's also commuter rail (SEPTA) in the Philadelphia area.

Re:How is that possible? (1)

N!k0N (883435) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655381)

I'm surprised their are passenger trains at all in other parts of the country... Here in PA, Philly I think is the only city with passenger train service through Amtrak. Oh sure, we have lots of rail lines (I drive over 6 sets of tracks every day), but those are exclusively industrial transportation and not passenger lines...

Amtrak runs over CSX/NS/UP/etc.-owned trackage with infinite-length trackage rights (i.e. ability to travel over "foreign" rail) due to the US government taking over the (failing) passenger rail service from the former large railroads (NKP, PRR, NYC, etc.) in 1971.

Amtrak says they have service to Altoona, Ardmore, Coatesville, Connellsville, Cornwells Heights, Downington, Elizabethtown, Erie, Exton Greensburg, Harrisburg, Huntingdon, Johnstown, Lancaster, Lantrobe, Lewistown, Middletown, Mount Joy, North Philadelphia, Paoli, Parkersburg, Philadelphia (30th Street), Pittsburgh, and Tyrone. Granted that most (if not all) of these stations probably have service at some godawful time, like 0300, due to proximity to NYC, and the schedule between NYC and Chicago (1 train daily, leaving at approx 1800, and arriving at the other end at approx 0600 the following morning).

Re:How is that possible? (1)

Enry (630) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654473)

No. I've only ridden Amtrak a few times in the NE corridor from Boston to NY/DC and I've never had to display any form of identification to enter the station or board.

the important question is.... (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about a month and a half ago | (#47653995)

Has the DEA been sending him a yearly 1099 for taxes? if not, then the IRS needs to audit the DEA.

Re:the important question is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47655457)

No, you can't play the major powers against one another by foisting upon them the same rules that they foist upon us. That's not how it works.

And I am not being cynical. Really, that isn't how it has ever worked. The notion of justice for the masses is still very new and being fleshed-out, and your concept of it represents (historically speaking) a very radical extreme.

I keep telling you people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47653999)

That's what the NSA does to get data. The companies don't need to spy for the NSA when the employees are paid off to give the information over.

Bangarang! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654011)

I guess Peter forgot his happy thought.

From endangered to extinct (3, Funny)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654017)

From now on, if somebody-somewhere-for some reason, keeps records of my comings, goings, and preferences, I will be under the assumption some governmental 3 letter acronym has instant access to this information.

Articles such as this will henceforth only be of interest to me if they include examples where my data is not collected.

Whirrr...click. Adjustment Bureau confirms your new filter parameters.

Re:From endangered to extinct (1)

thieh (3654731) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654091)

Certainly. Your voter information will probably not be collected by the Election Bureaus/Agencies

Re:From endangered to extinct (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654811)

Why would you ever have assumed that the government didn't have access to records of your use of public transportation?

I don't see what people are worked up about. Of course the government has a record of when you bought an Amtrak ticket. Amtrak is publicly funded!

Re:From endangered to extinct (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47655857)

Many people grew up with the naive belief that the constitution of the US had some restraining power over the government.

Re:From endangered to extinct (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about a month and a half ago | (#47656231)

Check your local copy of the Constitution - see anything in there about the government tracking your whereabouts? No? Interesting.

Circomventing controlls (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654079)

Sounds like someone was circumventing controls. The DEA had access... but did everyone in the DEA have access? I doubt it. One department likely had the data and getting to it either required evidence some didn't want to bother with, or was political, or maybe involved transferring money from your department to the controlling department. I've seen businesses where IS has control of an application, but what they claimed it cost per license was high enough that another department went out and bought the application themselves. I can't help but think this is the sort of thing that lead to this.

Re:Circomventing controlls (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | about a month and a half ago | (#47656555)

I see this as very similar to the parallel construction method. The DEA likely has controls on the information and logs requests to see it, by paying the Amtrak employee separately they can argue they never looked at the passenger information because it's not logged in the request. The defense can't say they used improper search methods because the log shows they never accessed it.

I'd be willing to be someone is in jail right now because of this information being accessed outside normal channels and had the defense known about it they would have been able to get the evidence thrown out.

Perfectly normal business (5, Funny)

MadKeithV (102058) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654109)

Sounds like perfectly normal business to me. Getting paid $900.000 to tell you something you already know? That's called Consulting.

DEA for sure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654157)

Are they sure it was the DEA that was actually requesting this info then? Seems fishy.

the DEA isnt about drugs. (4, Informative)

nimbius (983462) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654159)

This is probably rather controversial, but it should be said. The DEA was never created in order to police drugs.
Richard Nixon created the DEA in part as a reaction to the 60's neo liberal counter culture, and in part at the behest of southern constituents in response to the 1964 civil rights amendment. this is evidenced by the fact that the DEA targets disproportionally minority communities for enforcement, regardless of the well documented fact that affluent communities exhibit similar levels of drug posession. its also supported by the lack of any DEA presence or investigation during the iran contra scandal as well as the existence of numerous politicians and heads of state whom have repeatedly divulged their consumption of narcotics despite our nations zero tolerance policy.

as the push for drug sentencing reform continues, the DEA is finding itself increasingly useless as anything but an obstructionist wing of the government clinging for federal dollars. Blowing a million dollars on an amtrak mole despite existing access is just one example, but their raids on California dispensaries and legislative obstructionism shouldnt be ignored. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

Re:the DEA isnt about drugs. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654399)

You realize those California dispensaries may be legal according to state law. but run afoul of federal law because of the federal prohibition on drugs.

because? i don't know why...why did it take a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol but did not require one for other drugs?
i believe they often use the interstate commerce clause...but if the state views it as legal and it never crossed state lines, then it seems the fed's shouldn't be able to touch it.

Re:the DEA isnt about drugs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47655313)

Goods / products don't have to actually cross state lines in order to run afoul of the Interstate Commerce Clause, if it can be argued (successfully) that the good / product being produced in State A has an affect on interstate commerce in State B.

From wiki:

[quote]
In United States v. Wrightwood Dairy Co. (1942) the Court upheld federal price regulation of intrastate milk commerce, stating:
The commerce power is not confined in its exercise to the regulation of commerce among the states. It extends to those activities intrastate which so affect interstate commerce, or the exertion of the power of Congress over it, as to make regulation of them appropriate means to the attainment of a legitimate end, the effective execution of the granted power to regulate interstate commerce. [ ...] The power of Congress over interstate commerce is plenary and complete in itself, may be exercised to its utmost extent, and acknowledges no limitations other than are prescribed in the Constitution. [ ... ] It follows that no form of state activity can constitutionally thwart the regulatory power granted by the commerce clause to Congress. Hence, the reach of that power extends to those intrastate activities which in a substantial way interfere with or obstruct the exercise of the granted power.[13]
[/quote]

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commerce_Clause

Re:the DEA isnt about drugs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47655943)

why did it take a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol but did not require one for other drugs?

It didn't. They could have banned it other ways. It was choice, not a requirement. The Harrison Act, which effectively banned narcotics, was passed in 1914, over twenty years before Prohibition.

Re:the DEA isnt about drugs. (0)

Khyber (864651) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654959)

"their raids on California dispensaries and legislative obstructionism shouldnt be ignored."

Uh, speaking as a former member of a few of those collectives, you do realize that they were operating outside of state law? That very same set of laws that the FG said they'd not interfere in unless it hit federal territory? Do you not realize most of these busted places were running a for-profit organization, in violation of STATE LAW?

What happens when state law is heavily violated? State doesn't prosecute, the Feds do.

Holy fuck are you that ignorant of our government?

~licensed grower
~licensed federal producer of landrace cannabis genetics
~licensed exporter of same genetics
~known felon

LEARN YOUR LAWS, MORON.

Hard to know which to be more disgusted by.. (2)

Rigel47 (2991727) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654219)

The staggering idiocy of paying a million dollars for something you already have or the all-too-common practice of law enforcement to regard the Constitution as an irritating afterthought.

Hard to know which to be more disgusted by.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47656579)

Heh...are you *positive* that this was the case or was it more a matter of them doing something clandestine and didn't want scrutiny (as would have been caused by them getting it through normal, official, LEGAL channels...)?

Theft? (2)

bradley13 (1118935) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654223)

Surely this is illegal? I know that the US has no privacy laws, but it is still theft. Both he and the individuals purchasing the stolen data should be prosecuted.

Of course, it won't happen because "War on Drugs", and anyway, anything the US government wants is ok.

Re:Theft? (1)

PPH (736903) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655425)

Amtrak [wikipedia.org] is publicly funded. So the issue of whether theft was involved or it was an instance of interagency data sharing might be a bit cloudy.

Certainly this sort of transaction shoud be covered in Amtrak's corporate policies and procedures. I seriously doubt a low level employee could engage in such activity without approval from higher up. On the other hand, the absense such policies is a sure sign of bad management.

Yeah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47655597)

In the real world, there are real people who's heart's desire is power over other people. Also, they see other people as nothing more than a means to their own ends, and as such the word "evil" is completely without meaning to them (as are such words as "justice" or "honesty").

Such people exist. The stupid ones wind up getting arrested. The smart ones wind up running mega corporations or filling top-level government positions.

All of the *problems* we are lamenting here are actually the deliberate efforts of these people, who have the means, motive, and opportunity to do so. This sort of thing will continue to the precise extent that it is tolerated by the masses (and by "tolerated" I mean "the people might complain about it but most of them don't bother to get up and do anything about it," which is precisely the case here).

Re:Yeah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47656487)

And if you do trying to something about it, you will be marked as "terrorist".

You NEVER fight directly against a monarchy. Period.

Remember, the enemy of your enemy is your friend.

Re:Theft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47656065)

Probably not, the DEA simply bought the data, and they probably went through the right channels on their end for it (taxes are good, person is considered an informant and it probably exempt from whatever charges they might be able to throw at them). Amtrack also already has an agreement with the DEA, so the data probably falls under than. It is legal for them to do this. The only thing really broken is most likely corprate policy, meaning they'll get fired, and that's it.

Theft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47656567)

In this case it probably IS information theft. But that's the price you have to pay for keeping the info quiet (as in, getting the info from legitimate channels like they could do would have caused attention to be focused on what they were doing...and apparently they didn't want scrutiny...) now isn't it?

Weird.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654277)

I once got a fax/email thing that was sent to me by accident, of someone requesting that their info be removed from the Amtrack database. I was trying to figure out why someone would care, but I guess maybe they knew it was being passed around.

Re:Weird.... (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654529)

It pretty much goes like this:

1) Purchase ticket using unique email address.
2) Almost immediately receive spam to that email address from a spoofed source.
3) Realize Amtrack is (knowingly or unknowingly) selling your personal contact information to anyone who will pay.

It makes sense that if this Amtrack employee was selling the customer contact info database illegally to the DEA there likely were other buyers too that are much harder to catch in the act. Furthermore it makes sense that if the DEA would spend that much money buying the information illegally they'd have no qualms about reselling it once they purchased it to recoup some of the cost for other operations, or potentially even profit from it.

In this situation Amtrack is sadly hardly unique either. This is pretty much the name of the game with most companies that require you to hand over your contact info in order to do business, regardless of what their Terms of Service might say about it. At some level in the chain of command there is always a point where someone has access to customer information that is of a value enough orders of magnitude more than their salary that the temptation to do something dishonorable far outweighs the fear of getting caught.

Government Dollars at Work! (1)

kevlmark (722406) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654305)

One can only shake your head.

Re:Government Dollars at Work! (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654439)

One can only shake your head.

You can just shake your head but don't forget this lightened your wallet too.

sharing the wealth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654365)

I wonder if an investigation would reveal that the secretary knew someone in the DEA and was 'sharing the wealth."

Federal Government At Work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654369)

This is a little snip of how the Federal Government really works: Agency vs Agency like the old Mad Magazine Spy vs Spy.

But that was very nice haul getting $90k per year for 10 years; DEA pays GOOD, just like to the Mexican Cartels --- Remember
the "Fast And Furious" program with the FBI and DoJ Administrator !

parallel construction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654419)

Paying for passengers list is just a cover for other services purchased by DEA.

Amtrack should be working on (-1, Offtopic)

azav (469988) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654479)

Arresting tranny prostitutes on their trains. I was pretty shocked when I took a train across country and there was a man dressed as a woman who was always around the bathroom whenever I happened to walk by. Didn't take long to figure out that this was a tranny prostitute and when I mentioned it to the staff, they appeared to know about it. Fucking disgusting to have a working prostitute travelling along the train lines and even more disgusting to have it being a tranny pretending to be a woman. So damn repulsive.

Re:Amtrack should be working on (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655715)

Hey, babe. Take a walk on the wild side...

Re:Amtrack should be working on (1)

Cederic (9623) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655833)

You ignorant bigoted piece of shit. Just don't give the prostitute money, and leave her to live her life as she chooses.

Re:Amtrack should be working on (-1, Flamebait)

azav (469988) | about a month and a half ago | (#47656793)

Ignorant? Really?

Bigoted against tranny prostitites? On government transportation that the public rides on? HELL, yes. Publicly visited transport should be free of this filth. You're a complete fucktard for thinking this is not completely fucking disgusting and actually supporting it's actions. Just because some assclown wants to pretend it's a woman, that certainly means that it isn't. Get that seedy shit off of national transportation that people have to pay to be on. Clown.

Allowed to retire without disciplinary action (1)

scotts13 (1371443) | about a month and a half ago | (#47654729)

That's just amazing. Any company I've worked for, I'd be strung up by the heels for giving away customer data, let alone selling it for the better part of a million dollars. One article notes "It was not clear whether the DEA has rules against soliciting corporate insiders to provide confidential customer information in exchange for money." Really, they need a specific rule against that? I can see a DEA official whispering in someone's ear "Shut up, shut up, let it go and just let her retire."

The likely explanation is disheartening. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47654841)

Either the agents involved are working for rival drug dealers or were running some kind of shakedown scam. That's the only reason they'd want information off the books that they could instantly obtain from an official database.

Amtrak informant is just one source (1)

Trachman (3499895) | about a month and a half ago | (#47655531)

Amtrak is just a one source, of many. Intelligence agencies not only get the information, but also get this information via different channels to have redundancy and to verify those copies against each other. Sources do not know about each other. That is basic rule in operations against the enemy. To begin with, most likely Amtrak serves have been hacked by NSA long time ago and they have the information directly. In addition to that they have insiders, on the payroll, to get the same data as well as interpretations on the data. Call it "customer" support. There is the last avenue, "constitutional", is to go and get subpoenas or other boring methods. Such redundancy was needed to give impression that the public has "privacy". Spying was performed first and, later, when the case was built, "different" sources were shown. All for the appearance of "privacy". Greyhound buses, Urban transit, Amazon, Ebay, iTunes, Fedex, USPS, EZ pass,: everyone has a "file" recorded in relationship databases available for query.
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