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FBI Says Paper Trails Are Optional

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the we-don'-need-no-steenkin' dept.

Privacy 244

WerewolfOfVulcan writes "According to this Washington Post article, the FBI says that it doesn't have to comply with even the unconstitutional provisions of the Patriot Act when asking for phone records. Apparently that whole due process thing doesn't include them. Funny thing is, they've apparently already been doing it for years." Quoting: "Under past procedures, agents sent 'exigent circumstances letters' to phone companies, seeking toll records by asserting there was an emergency. Then they were expected to issue a grand jury subpoena or a 'national security letter,' which legally authorized the collection after the fact. Agents often did not follow up with that paperwork, the inspector general's investigation found. The new instructions tell agents there is no need to follow up with national security letters or subpoenas. The agents are also told that... they may make requests orally, with no paperwork sent to phone companies. Such oral requests have been made over the years in terrorism and kidnapping cases, officials said."

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244 comments

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Moo (-1, Offtopic)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421205)

In Soviet Russia, paper trails YOU!

That's fine! (4, Insightful)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421229)

I pick and choose the laws I obey as well, and after reading this, I feel even more vindicated when I do so.

Try picking a nontrivial law to ignore... (-1)

Jeff Molby (906283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421267)

...and let me know how well your strategy works out.

Re:Try picking a nontrivial law to ignore... (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421523)

> > I pick and choose the laws I obey as well, and after reading this, I feel even more vindicated when I do so.
>
> ...and let me know how well your strategy works out.

Hey, we're all pseudonymous here. Maybe FatSean is an elected official, in which case it'll work fine.

Done and done. (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422271)

Still free!

I was being sarcastic. I think anyone who abuses authority granted to them by the people of the USA should be shot in the face, and a bill for the bullet sent to their family. Corrupt cops and any other cops covering up for them, corrupt politicians and the people who cover for them, etc...

It'll never happen tho.

Re:Done and done. (1, Flamebait)

morleron (574428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422419)

Careful. With an attitude like that you'll be called an "unlawful enemy combatant", or maybe the Vice-President, hard to tell the difference these days.

Later,
Ron

Re:That's fine! (3, Insightful)

daigu (111684) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421953)

It's not fine. A government that picks and chooses which laws it obeys is a government based on tyranny. You, on the other hand, aren't a tyrannt no matter how many blunts you smoke at home.

Re:That's fine! (1)

Spock the Baptist (455355) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422103)

In a democratic republic...

"We have rule of law, and not rule of man."

Not that this has in recent years done much to deter prosecutors in general, the FBI, as well as other law enforcement agencies from trying.

STB

Re:That's fine! (3, Insightful)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422133)

Not that this has in recent years done much to deter prosecutors in general
Recent news [google.com] suggests that prosecutors lose their jobs when they place the rule of law above the rule of man.

Re:That's fine! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422341)

clinton did the same in 93

Re:That's fine! (1)

packeteer (566398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422357)

2 wrongs don't make a right...

Just becuase you can point out what a democrat did wrong doesn't mean that the current administration is free to do as they please.

Re:That's fine! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422081)

Me too. This is really no different than going 65 in a 60mph zone. [/sarcasm]

Re:That's fine! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422345)

Hey, that sounds nice. Using the FBI's logic that it is too inconvenient to follow protocol and file the papers necessary to prove that what they did was legal, then it's too inconvenient for me to keep my receipts and paychecks when I file my taxes! I'm thinking a big tax return is in order.

double entendre (4, Insightful)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421215)

Funny thing is, they've apparently already been doing it for years.

Oh yeah, that's funny. it's almost a real riot.

Re:double entendre (1)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421393)

it's almost a real riot.
Ohhh, you got me! Yeah, you got me.

Re:double entendre (2, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421519)

Funny thing is, they've apparently already been doing it for years.

Oh yeah, that's funny. it's almost a real riot.


Click here [wikipedia.org] to gain a new understanding of the sentence.

Re:double entendre (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421903)

Click here [wikipedia.org] to gain a new understanding of the joke made in response to the sentence.

Re:double entendre (5, Insightful)

morleron (574428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422307)

Of course, the memo authorizing this travesty, which utterly destroys the last vestiges of due process for ordinary Americans, says that agents are to use the "exigent circumstances" requests only in case of "dire need". Yeah, we know how well that crap worked when they were supposedly abiding by the extremely dubious constitutional grounds provided by the infamous PATRIOT ACT. Our legislators continue to drag their feet and express surprise that the FBI would abuse its power: these are the jerks that handed the Feds the gun in the first place, now they seem surprised to find that the Bush administration has made use of its secret police powers to investigate at least 143,000 Americans, few of whom are at all likely to be terrorists - I guess that happens when most of one's eighteen functioning brain cells are mainly concentrating on how to maintain oneself in position at the public trough.

This is a clever move on the part of the Foul Breathed Investigators as it seems that "exigent circumstance" requests may be made by phone; in the interests of saving time and lives of course. Now, with no need to issue even minimal follow-up paperwork there will be far fewer traces of the abuses of power that will continue. After all, the cockroaches can now safely occupy the middle of the room: the lights have been turned off. No need to worry about having to scurry for cover should any noxious Inspector General or Congresscritter show up asking "What the hell?" So, America takes yet another step towards the darkness that is a police state. How long before phone records are used to justify having the military pick up some local "unlawful enemy combatant" in your neighborhood? Think it can't happen here? Think that Americans somehow don't have that "dark side" that shows up everywhere else in the world when governments are allowed virtually unlimited police powers? If that's true, how do you account for the FBI PATRIOT ACT abuses, the current dustup over the firing of eight US District Attorneys, the Valerie Plame affair, the use of secret CIA prison camps and the "extraordinary rendition" of prisoners to other nations with even fewer safeguards against torture than we have, the fact that the military tribunals now being held at Gitmo are secret (can't have anyone finding out who we really detain down there), and the remainder of the whole sordid list of abuses that our little sawed-off tinpot "Decider" in the White House has loosed on this country?

It's getting to be very close to the point at which openly dissenting from government policies will become very dangerous. It will be too late to put a stop to these abuses once the malevolent piece of vegetation that we "elected" President decides to start really using all the powers he's been given over the past six years. After all, how many people are going to be willing to openly risk the "midnight knock" that is more and more a possibilty for anyone who stands out from the crowd? Once people begin to disappear in numbers large enough to attract the attention of the sleep-walking American populace there will be little chance of peacefully reigning in our out-of-control Federal government. The time to act is now. Join the next demonstration against the war, start one to call attention to how Texas' Favorite Idiot has trampled our Constitutional liberties into the mud, write the spineless wimp that occupies your local Congressional district office and insist that he begin living up to his oath of office - which requires the protection of the Constitution and I'm not talking about shielding the document itself from destruction, write your local newspapers explaining why continuing to allow President Bush, Vice President Richard "Sparky Crashcart" Cheney, Attorney General Alberto "Torquemeda" Gonzales, and Secretary of State Condi "Head in the Sand" Rice to remain in office is a Bad Idea, do something to protect this country before it's too late. The government IS NOT THE COUNTRY and the sooner everyone realizes this the sooner we can kick the SOBs out of office. Patriotism has very little to do with supporting any government policy - it has everything to do with protecting and strengthening the principles that this country was founded on - principles that George W. Bush has every desire to eradicate.

"There are four boxes to use in the defence of liberty: soap, ballot, jury,
ammo. Use in that order. Starting now. - Anonymous"

Last of all, pay attention to the list of "the four boxes" that protect liberty and decide for yourself which one it's most important to make sure continues to exist, then act to ensure that it's used effectively and properly. Liberty cannot maintain itself in the face of criminals who desire to destroy it, it is not free and too many Americans have taken it for granted for too long. Let us hope that we have not reached the point that Thomas Jefferson was referring to when he said, "The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time by the blood of patriots and tyrants".

Live free,
Ron

Mod Parent "Weird" (0, Flamebait)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422423)

I was going to moderate this, maybe "Insightful," but then it descended into Trolldom. Making up gratuitous clever nicknames like "Foul Breathed Investigators" does nothing to bolster your argument; in fact it makes me (at least) focus on the name-calling rather than the argument. Attributing outright malevolence to Bush is also cliche by now.

You have a legitimate case to make about the abuses and expansion of government power.

Re:Mod Parent "Weird" (1)

morleron (574428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422465)

Sorry to have offend your sensibilities. However, being polite, which I have made a point of doing for a long time, doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere. It's time to start applying sarcasm and rudeness to the tender parts of those who've gotten us into this situation.

Just my $.02,
Ron

The FBI and the Constitution (2, Insightful)

cluckshot (658931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421217)

Well the committee for State Security, (Russian translation KGB) is alive and well in the USA. It now comes out what I have been posting for some time that this was an effort to trounce the constitution.

The FBI and the Constitution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421543)

Is former Soviet Russia and fooling is be done on you.

Okay, since when did FBI become KGB? (5, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421219)

I'd make a funny about "In Soviet Amerika", but it just ain't funny anymore.

We need to step on these bastards necks NOW.

On 9-11-2001? Possibly before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421591)

> I'd make a funny about "In Soviet Amerika", but it just ain't funny anymore.

Usually, those jokes illustrate something that's different in Soviet Russia than here, not something that's exactly the same in both places.

I just hope they don't discover Polonium 210 any time soon.

Re:Okay, since when did FBI become KGB? (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421839)

> I'd make a funny about "In Soviet Amerika", but it just ain't funny anymore.
>
> We need to step on these bastards necks NOW.

If you want a picture of Soviet America, NOW you picture these bastards' boots stepping on YOUR neck!

Re:Okay, since when did FBI become KGB? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422425)

You want big government? This is it.

I still can't believe how many people think they can have their cake and eat it too. Enough is enough -- it's time to grow up and realize that injustice is proportional to the amount of power at the center.

Concentrated political power is the most dangerous thing on earth.
-- R.J. Rummel

Let's stop chasing impossible dreams and admit that he was absolutely correct.

When you're above the constitution... (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421221)

you're probably above the law too.

Re:When you're above the constitution... (3, Insightful)

Aphex Junkie (633436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421243)

The Constitution is the ultimate "law of the land". So change "probably" to "definitely" :(

Re:When you're above the constitution... (4, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421823)

The Constitution was the ultimate "law of the land

There, fixed that for you.

Dual Responsibility (3, Interesting)

The Zon (969911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421227)

Well, phone companies have never had the greatest track record on upholding the rights of their customers, so it's no wonder the FBI tells its agents they don't have to fill out any paperwork. The companies just bend right over.

Re:Dual Responsibility (4, Interesting)

SEAL (88488) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421485)

The phone companies are about as close to a government agency as you can get. Bell was essentially a government-sanctioned monopoly for years. Even since the breakup, the baby bells have slowly been merging back together. The U.S. government has ALWAYS had a hand in the telcos. Expecting phone companies to protect your records from the government is like trying to get a home loan without revealing your credit history. Good luck with that one.

If you want privacy you're better off finding other means of communication.

Re:Dual Responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421879)

Well as sad as it is, every one would have to be pretty naive to not think they were already doing this. Of course the facts come out and yes they have, but it certainly doesn't surprise me. They've been doing this shit for decades, keeping files of prominent celebrities and communist sympathizers (Remember Jack Ruby and all those nuts from back in the day?). The fact is they feel they can't uphold the law unless they police everyone, and that's basically how they justify it. Which just shows how America is becoming more and more in the grip or facists and nazis alike/everywhere all over the world. I love my country and it makes my heart hurt when I realize the truth of these things.

Re:Dual Responsibility (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422319)

The phone companies may have a lot of interaction with the government at various levels, but that doesn't mean that the government is one big happy record-sharing institution.

The FBI can't just willy-nilly go requesting tax records from the IRS -- they have to have a warrant to do so. Neither can the IRS request your FBI file, if one exists. Government agencies, from local county registrars to Federal agencies are notorious for petty squabbles and infighting, and plain old bureaucratic machinations. Though people often complain that this is bureaucratic waste and government inefficiency, this actually protects your rights because it is separation of powers.

So I don't see why people expecting the telcos not to share personal data with the government is so unreasonable. Plenty of businesses deal with government regulation to varying degrees, either in their favor or not; that doesn't mean they have to jump when the FBI says so.

Those oral requests can be denied (5, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421249)

... bitch at your phone companies.

This isn't wire taps, this is getting your phone records. This is social engineering.

You could do this too, you don't have to be a federal agent.

Fuck that! Jail the agents who try this. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421327)

This is social engineering.

No, this is abuse of authority.

This is about removing accountability.

We don't need a paper trail just for a paper trail. We need one to make sure that the requests are legitimate and fair.

Re:Fuck that! Jail the agents who try this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422445)

This is social engineering.
No, this is abuse of authority.
Well.. social engineering often times relies on the use of nonexistent authority to leverage. This is the same thing, they have no authority to be doing this.

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (1)

Aphex Junkie (633436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421345)

A creative way to protest the FBI's bullshit:

1. Find name of important FBI official or lawmaker who supports these blatantly illegal procedures
2. Call phone company
3. Use mad social engineering skills to secure important person's phone records
4. Mail it to them along with a letter stating that the FBI and the current administration in general needs to stop wiping their ass with the Constitution!

They'll only listen when it comes to bite them in the ass. They need to be made aware that they are not above the law and it CAN be used against them!

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421501)

you forgot a few more steps:

5. Get accused of terrorism
6. Spend a few months being tortured
7. Admit you love Big Brother

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (0, Offtopic)

Cpt_Kirks (37296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421585)

You know, I am no fan of W. I voted for him the first time, but voted for Bendarak(sp) the last time.

However, statements like "current administration in general needs to stop wiping their ass with the Constitution!" just make me smile. I smile to keep from cussing.

Clinton did more to "wipe his ass" with the Constitution than W could get away with in his wildest dreams! He issued more "Executive Orders" than any other president, or about any GROUP of presidents (take a look at the "War and Emergency Powers Act" sometime). He told his AG to "find a way around the 4th Amendment".

Clinton was just more slick about it. They don't call him "Slick Willy" for nothing!

There is not a damn bit of difference between Republican and Democrat anymore. Just different sides of the same coin.

Vote Libertarian! If nothing else, at least it's different.

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421631)

You're just as bad as the Blender developers who use 3d Studio Max as their scapegoat for everything. "Blender isn't user friendly!" "Yeah, but how user friendly is 3ds max?" It's not about holding yourself to the same standard as the competition, it's about holding yourself to a gold standard.

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (2, Insightful)

msully4321 (816359) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421769)

If you read his post, you'll realize that he is not defending Bush's actions. He's countering the partisan hacks who believe that their side is significantly less corrupt and abusive of power than the current administration. Both major parties suck.

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (1)

zacronos (937891) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422493)

Which explains why he got a -1 Offtopic mod -- the poster he was replying to never made any partisan comments, and referred to the "current administration".

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421801)

'Libertarian' == 'I failed PoliSci'.

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421865)

President George W. Bush == 'I passed PoliSci'.

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421995)

President George W. Bush == 'I skipped PoliSci'.

Fixed that for you...

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421809)

"However, statements like 'current administration in general needs to stop wiping their ass with the Constitution!' just make me smile. I smile to keep from cussing.

Clinton [...]"

Sorry, you lose.

Both parties do suck. On the other hand, when my 3-year-old tells me "but [random kid] did it too!" I don't accept that as a valid excuse. Apparently your parents had different ideas.

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (1)

Eccles (932) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421875)

take a look at the "War and Emergency Powers Act" sometime

The only references I could find to that make no mention of Clinton. Explain? The rest of your stuff is too vague to check.

I didn't vote for Clinton, but the current admin makes me nostalgic for him.

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (2, Insightful)

carpeweb (949895) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422395)

I sure do see a lot of arguments that boil down to "the other side is worse". What is the point of that argument? Personally, I think W is worse than Clinton, but I don't see how that is relevant to an argument about whether something should or should not be done. I'm not sure "if nothing else, at least it's different" does a whole lot to advance the discussion, since "different" can be worse, by definition. If you have specific reasons making it actually better, or less worse, that would be a much more credible argument.

BTW, I "get" the frustration angle; I even share it; I just don't think your response to it makes any sense.

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (1)

nanoflower (1077145) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421459)

YEs, I could and it would be illegal if I did it. It was illegal for the agents to do it too, when they didn't get a subpoena. So it seems like they should be penalized just like every other citizen would be if they did this. Heck, given that know the law and are charged with upholding it they should be held to a higher standard. If it happened once it might be something that could be ignored but when it's epidemic there needs to be some major penalties on them.. Unfortunately it seems that the law only applies to those of us that aren't charged with enforcing it.

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421773)

Is it actually illegal for a private citizen to attempt to get phone records through social engineering (as long as you don't pretend to be law enforcement, which is a separate crime by itself)? I thought this was the whole deal behind that "pretexting" law that got shot down in California because the ??AA does it to secure records concerning potential lawsuit defendants.

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421921)

Inadmissable in court doesn't mean illegal.

Hearsay isn't admissible in court, it doesnt mean detectives cover their hands and go "lalalalalala" when you tell them you heard somebody brag about a murder.

Something can be useful in investigation, and useless (even poisonous) to a prosecution.

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421919)

You could do this too, you don't have to be a federal agent.

Only if you want to go to jail. Impersonating a federal agent is a felony.

Re:Those oral requests can be denied (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422497)

Now all we need to do is make it a felony for Federal Agents to commit felonies. Then we'd be getting somewhere.

Nah, probably not.

Well, of course it doesn't! (2, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421257)

> Apparently that whole due process thing doesn't include them.

Well, of course it doesn't. What are you gonna do, call the cops? Oh, wait, the FBI are the cops!

Silly citizens.

Re:Well, of course it doesn't! (1)

adam.dorsey (957024) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422095)

Silly citizens.

Civil rights are for terrorists!

Re:Well, of course it doesn't! (1)

korbin_dallas (783372) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422359)

Heres a thing your government doesn't want you to have, a memory.

I remember this little country over thar in Europe. Well the people got sick and tired of their government and revolted. They rounded up the king and queen and separated their heads from their necks.

I suggest all your emails and letters to Congress finish with this little reminder:

"Don't be a Louis the XIV !"

BushCo Says: +1, Helpful (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421271)



Testifying under oath is optional [google.com] .

The English translation is GUILTY AS DETERMINED BY THE MILITARY COMMISSIONS ACT [whitehouse.org] .

Get The Bumper Stick: F The President.

Thanks for your support.

Democratically as always,
Kilgore Trout

Ripe for abuse (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421303)

Well yeah. If you were going to use the powers of the USAPATRIOT act inappropriately, why would you keep a paper trail? That way the worst you can be accused of is not keeping the record, not whatever it is you actually did.

Insufficient accountability morphs directly into a complete lack of accountability. Who is surprised by this? Who did not anticipate this over five years ago? Those who were blinded by fear. Everyone else was either outraged by the potential -- and thus innevitable -- abuse, or lying and appealing to the fearful. Don't worry, there doesn't need to be any safeguards because we promise to use our powers wisely and justly, and besides, don't you hate Terrorists?!

Re:Ripe for abuse (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422049)

Well yeah. If you were going to use the powers of the USAPATRIOT act inappropriately, why would you keep a paper trail?
Funny. Every time I express a similar line of thought I get swamped by trolls and creeps shouting "conspiracy paranoia".

What's your secret to keeping the creeps off of you?

Re:Ripe for abuse (1)

roscivs (923777) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422139)

What's your secret to keeping the creeps off of you?
Low UID. It works wonders.

Re:Ripe for abuse (5, Insightful)

incabulos (55835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422173)

Don't worry, there doesn't need to be any safeguards because we promise to use our powers wisely and justly, and besides, don't you hate Terrorists?!

The FBI seems to love terrorists, because they have bought about a regime in which anyone merely claiming to be an FBI agent can ask for and receive any confidential or private information on any US citizen. The terrorists will surely be posing as agents NOW, and because there is no validation of authority, paper trail or any safeguards at all, they will be able to find out everything they want to know.

Robert Mueller and the rest of his complicit conspirators need to be in jail.

Not wholly bad, but strange justification (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421309)

FTA (emphasis mine):

The new guidance to agents cites a provision in federal law allowing a telephone provider to voluntarily turn over phone records to law enforcement figures "in good faith" if they "believe that an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requires disclosure without delay," a senior FBI official said.

Hmm. That law they cite provides a justification for a telephone provider to turn over records; it does not provide a justification for law enforcement to request the records. Semantics, but important.

That the law clarifies under what kind of emergency such requests can be made is good-with-a-capital-G. What remains to be seen is if the old definition of emergency ("I can't be bothered with paperwork") will continue to be the de facto reason for a subpoena-less request.

IMO, any federal agent who acts outside the law wrt information requests should be prosecuted. They've broken the law no less than someone who smoked a joint -- and the cumulative negative effects on society are probably far worse for those who act outside the law in the name of the law.

Re:Not wholly bad, but strange justification (1)

bhalter80 (916317) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421455)

Why do people always pick on the federal agents for asking for documents, video, etc... without documentation. They should be free to request anything be turned over that they wish, just as you or I can. The people you should be angry with are the corporate folks who comply they're the ones who should ask for a warrant, subpoena, etc...

Re:Not wholly bad, but strange justification (2, Insightful)

Checkmait (1062974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421671)

Why do people always pick on the federal agents

Because federal agents usually have the authority of the federal government behind them. And in cases right now, federal agents are using templates for letters which are intended to be used in emergencies.


But you are right: when agents make an information request without a subpoena, communications companies should resist unless it is *very obvious* that there is an emergency (i.e. publicly broadcasted threats).

Re:Not wholly bad, but strange justification (3, Insightful)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421729)

Uhm, what part of the following don't you understand?

Agent: We're the FBI, turn over the documents or we'll get a warrant, trash your offices, and disrupt your business for the next six months looking for them. And then maybe charge you with "obstruction" and "interfering with a Federal officer."

And refer whatever we find to the IRS as well.

Yeah, your average corporate wageslave or corporate idiot manager is going to refuse...

At least some librarians have been known to do so when asked for library patron records. But they don't work for the phone company or a bank - where obedience is Job One.

You see "Smokin' Aces"? Remember the sceen where Ray Liotta is asked by his partner about whether there'll be a problem at the hotel getting access? He says something to the effect, you show them the badge, they bend over.

That's how it works. These companies are regulated and controlled by the US government - they do what the government says (unless it means revealing their own management graft or corruption or monopoly acts, of course.)

Re:Not wholly bad, but strange justification (1, Troll)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421895)

'Tis sad but true. In the nation where the British tax collector was tarred and feathered as a representative of tyranny, people don't even have the guts to shove their do-nothing Congressmen into a good ol' fashioned political lynching over this sort of conduct. The Americans of today are pathetic ingrates compared to their brave and liberty-loving ancestors.

Re:Not wholly bad, but strange justification (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422287)

Why do people always pick on the federal agents for asking for documents, video, etc... without documentation.

Because in an presumed emergency, you trust the authority figures who are tasked with dealing with them. If your an IT manager for a bank, and a child has just been kidnapped from the premises, do you really want to tell the police to go back to the station fill out a subpoena, and get it signed by a judge before you'll let them review the surveillance tapes to see if they show who grabbed the child. You could, but that delay might seal the kids fate.

The people you should be angry with are the corporate folks who comply they're the ones who should ask for a warrant, subpoena, etc...

I disagree.

The reason for these 'emergency protocols' is so that things can happen as quickly as possible in emergencies. We really shouldn't blame 'corporate folks' for assisting law enforcement just because full protocol hasn't been followed, especially if the 'corporate folks' have been misled to beleive that an urgent response is required.

If the federal agents are verbally asking for records and its not an emergency we should be angry at the federal agents, and demanding accountability from them. They should be harshly dealt with when they abuse those policies. I'd even say it should be a matter of public record when emergency protocols are invoked, so that we can all review them after the fact.

The challenge is to make law enforcement accountable *without* making the accounting so onerous that they are unable to respond effectively in time sensitive situations. "Due Process" is great when time isn't a big deal, but sometimes it needs to be set aside for the greater good -- the trick is to ensure that it only happens when its actually needed. Simply banning 'emergency responses' isn't going to get rid of emergencies, and without emergency responses those emergencies are going to end badly.

Re:Not wholly bad, but strange justification (1)

carpeweb (949895) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422593)

That law they cite
I don't think "guidance" has the force of law. Granted, if it's your boss giving you "guidance", it's not irrelevant, but let's not confuse hierarchy with law.

Re:Not wholly bad, but strange justification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422623)

Hmm. That law they cite provides a justification for a telephone provider to turn over records; it does not provide a justification for law enforcement to request the records. Semantics, but important.
Well, if you want to play at semantics, wouldn't "a justification for a telephone provider to turn over records" implicitly acknowledge that Law Enforcement has a right to ask for those records without the appropriate documents?

Not to mention that you're whole point balances on a quote from an FBI agent and not on a reading of the applicable Federal Law.

Unless the law supports your claims, you're not nearly as clever as you think you are

Since we quote a lot of Orwell: (3, Insightful)

diesel66 (254283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421337)

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Re:Since we quote a lot of Orwell: (3, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421445)

Four legs good, two legs BETTER!

Yeah, you heard me, this is just another example of the FBI's deep and ingrained bipedalism.

Re:Since we quote a lot of Orwell: (1)

daigu (111684) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421985)

What's next? Unipedalism?!?

Re:Since we quote a lot of Orwell: (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422053)

Two legs good, third leg BETTER!

Re:Since we quote a lot of Orwell: (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422159)

Tripedalism

From TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421353)

"has told its agents they may still ask phone companies to voluntarily hand over toll records in emergencies by using a new set of procedures" ...
"The new guidance to agents cites a provision in federal law allowing a telephone provider to voluntarily turn over phone records to law enforcement figures "in good faith" if they "believe that an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requires disclosure without delay," a senior FBI official said."

Not that I think the phone companies should ever hand over such information voluntarily but the article seems to be saying FBI agents don't need a subpeona to ask, rather than demand, that a company give them your phone records.

I'd suggest that we actually discuss the content of the article but I think I know better by now.

Re:From TFA (1)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421997)

Yeah, the real irony is that this is more your non-government employed neighbour propping up the oligarchy rather than "Teh Evil Government".

The private sector holds the influence, does the favours, and the government takes all the blame. Its the perfect oligarchy.

Re:From TFA (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422175)

the real irony is that this is more your non-government employed neighbour propping up the oligarchy
Because it would be a real shame if the division director would lose his job when the FCC or IRS decides to audit the local AT&T or Ma Bell office.

I can't blame citizens for rolling over when the word from the government is "comply or be watch your stock hit the floor due to bad press over audits".

Don't worry, obey the Law (1)

kognate (322256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421361)

Don't worry citizens, all you have to do is trust your government and obey the law. Then you can be assured that when the government asks questions, it's not about you. Because, as we all know, the FBI only makes requests about Bad Guys. The are from the Executive Branch, after all, and it's only the Judicial branch that feels you are "innocent until proven guilty".

cowards can exit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421383)

At a certain point, citizens have to say that anyone who prefers to feel "secure" over living in society where all people are given due process should just leave.

The real worrying thing is (4, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421483)

the submitter seems to have his pants in a knot over the FBI's misconduct, but he fails to realize that all police in all countries try to pull dirty tricks like that, and have done so for many decades. The difference between a free society governed by the rule of law and a dictatorship is that, in a free society, telcos have the liberty and *duty* to tell the police to sod off and come back with a proper warrant.

That US telcos comply to such oral requests alone should tell you something of the state of this country, which is the merging of the corporate world and the state. As in country that have this other form of government... [wikipedia.org]

Fascism: +1, Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421561)


Please see The White House [whitehouse.org] for more information about this topic.

Regards,
Agent 119876662622

Re:The real worrying thing is (2, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422375)

That US telcos comply to such oral requests alone should tell you something of the state of this country, which is the merging of the corporate world and the state.

Merging of the corporate world, what?

No, the reason this is happening is because every time a company does something bad (whether its censorship, seizing assets, turning people over to the gestapo, or whatnot) the droning starts. Millions of people chanting in unison: "The Constitution only applies to the government. The Constitution only applies to the government. The Constitution only applies to the government. The Constitution only applies to the government. The Constitution only applies to the government."

Your phone company giving your phone records to whoever they want? "The Constitution only applies to the government."

The drones have won.

Re:The real worrying thing is (2, Interesting)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422521)

I don't get this.. do you not have privacy laws in the U.S.?
I work (through three contractor levels of abstraction) for a telco here in Aus, and there are laws and BIG penalties for giving out customer records to anyone, including the police, who doesn't have the correct authority
What I'm trying to say is, aren't the US telco's here breaking a few laws?

Bad Summary no cookie (3, Informative)

Gnpatton (796694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421505)

That summary is completetly out of touch with the actual article. If you RTFA there is no mention of the Patriot Act, equally the /.summary doesn't even bother to mention the unconstitutional provisions of the Patriot Act in question.

Thanks for that completely useless and misleading article summary.

Re:Bad Summary no cookie (1)

Checkmait (1062974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422165)

You can still not deny that the FBI's actions are unconstitutional and pose some serious concerns to the citizens of the United States about the integrity of the FBI and the Bush administration.

Somebody tell me, please: (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421567)

is anybody actually surprised by things like this anymore? I can honestly say that when the warrantless wiretapping first came to light, I was shocked by how little press the story received compared to other things and by its subsequent all-but-disappearance from the public eye. Perhaps there is a legal loophole somewhere that purportedly allows corrupt politicians to do whatever the hell they want in Washington, but I haven't seen it. As far as I was aware, on the day of his inauguration, President Bush swore to uphold the Constitution. He broke his oath. It doesn't matter whether or not he believes working around the Constitution was good for America; the simple fact of the matter is that he broke his oath, which is an act of high treason, as far as I'm concerned. Clinton's affair did not undermine the foundation of all of our freedoms that Bush speaks so highly of out of one side of his mouth while he hands out instructions to the Great American Wrecking Co. from the other.

I was pleased when the Democrats took Congress, because I (perhaps naively) thought that they would order an investigation and discuss impeachment. Nope, didn't happen. There was no trial, and nobody went to jail. I, a concerned citizen of this country, was left feeling unsatisfied and betrayed by the very government I am forced to pay to support. I'm growing tired of hearing about how the democratic process will repair these evils. How? When? How many of our freedoms will we lose before America wakes the fuck up and takes its dream back from these greedy, power-hungry criminals?

Why do we stand here idly watching while it seems like almost weekly some new affront on everything America used to stand for appears in the news? The USA is dying a slow, agonizing death, and "we the people" appear powerless to stop it. Is there anything we can do?

Re:Somebody tell me, please: (5, Insightful)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421869)

Short answer to your last question: No.

"I, a concerned citizen of this country, was left feeling unsatisfied and betrayed by the very government I am forced to pay to support."

Welcome to - the nature of the state. You have just learned what every OTHER citizen of every OTHER country in the entire history of the world has learned at some point.

"I'm growing tired of hearing about how the democratic process will repair these evils. How? When?"

Never. No democracy ever has and no democracy ever will. Because democracies that reach this point are no longer democracies - if they ever were.

When you reach this point, revolution or destruction by outside attack are the only solutions left.

It's a tossup which one - or both - will occur to the US and when, but it is inevitable.

And you haven't seen anything yet. Wait until the war on Iran starts, and car bombs start going off all over the place here as the US economy sinks into the sunset due to quadruple oil prices and the Chinese dumping the US dollar. The Constitution is history. Fergeddaboutit.

The only thing you need to understand is: the people really running this country WANT THIS TO HAPPEN. To paraphrase the "feel good" movement, everything that happens happens for a reason - and it serves them (not us.)

But if you're smart enough (which I apparently am not), you can make it serve you, too...

Re:Somebody tell me, please: (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422633)

Wait until the war on Iran starts

I think you are being overly pessimistic - it's just sabre rattling they are not stupid enough to do it even for big bribe from extremists in Israel. It just like the fools that want a cold war with China which would turn the USA into an isolated economic basket case within a couple of years.

great (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421615)

All they need to do now is start cracking down on dissent, intimidating, bringing false charges, etc, and we will be living in a real police state. Who said it couldn't happen here? Maybe next time I make a post like this it will be as an anonymous coward from a car parked in front of a starbucks.

Re:great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422551)

anonymous coward from a car parked in front of a starbucks

This is the FBI, would the nerd in the car in front of starbucks please step out of the vehicle and put the laptop on the gounrd

Wait, if there's no paper trail (2, Insightful)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421725)

How did they find out about this? Interviews?

I caught a little bit of the hearing today... (2, Informative)

iPaul (559200) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421727)

on CSPAN radio. (What a life, eh?) Long story short - one rep said in response to the FBI saying "they'll do their best" to clean up the situation, was "If you don't clean it up, you won't have these NSO/NSL letters to worry about any more." (Taking them away).

The FBI counsel came back to that whole "in an emergency" thing, but they cannot gaurantee that it's an emergency. They couldn't even gaurantee it was part of an investigation (a requirement). What a mess we've created these last six years.

Re:I caught a little bit of the hearing today... (2, Interesting)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422041)

What a mess we've created these last six years.

What does the last six years have to do with anything? Didn't the Clintons [assumption.edu] use FBI files against their political opponents? At least this is done under the guise of National Security and not for political intimidation.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending this. I am telling you to not assume that this started when Bush took office. If anything, they're making a step in the right direction. I guess if you are going to abuse governmental powers, at least do to fight terrorism and not to fight the "other party". I guess that if you could not let your Bush hatred blow your logic circuits, you'd see that not all problems started when Bush took office.

I don't see the big deal (2, Insightful)

tsotha (720379) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421787)

This is a story about the FBI calling up and making a request that doesn't have the force of law. If you want to do something about this call up your phone company and ask what the policy is regarding oral requests from the FBI. If you don't like it, use a different one.

And we're not talking about wiretaps, here. We're talking about records of who you call. The courts have ruled, over the years, that this data is not yours. It belongs to the phone company. In fact, those court rulings are probably what prompted the change in policy.

Unsurprised (1)

akros (1078133) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422003)

Why am I not surprised at this development?

How's Verisign handling those requests? (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422195)

Much wiretapping in the US is actually outsourced to Verisign. Verisign's NetDiscovery [verisign.com] center provides a full-service wiretapping service, with hooks into telcos, cellular networks, VoIP providers, cable TV systems, wireless data networks, and ISPs. Verisign's proprietary back door into the SS7 telephone signaling control network makes this not only possible, but allows Verisign to offer wiretapping services at a lower cost.

Verisign is extending their wiretapping network internationally. Italy is already hooked up. [64.233.167.104]

So if Congress or the press wants to look into this matter, the place to go is Verisign's Network Security Office. Also, attending Intelligence Support Systems for Lawful Interception, Cybercrime Investigations and Intelligence Gathering Conference and Expo [telestrategies.com] in May, in Washington, DC. "Now that most nations of the world require lawful interception support of VoIP and other IP-based services, ISS World Spring 2007 is a must attend event." Talks include "Best Practices for Successful Deployments of Word Spotting Technology" and "Content and P2P Monitoring and Filtering". Major topics for this year include inteconnecting multiple intercept systems to allow easier remote access.

When even law enforcement can't abide by the law.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422343)

Then this whole law thing has become a bit of a joke hasn't it?

Hahaha!

Poor J. Edgar (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422511)

If he had it this good, he would have been able to cross-dress in public, and he wouldn't get a second glance.

My thoughts on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422547)

Tough luck. You signed the agreement (also subject to change without noice) with the phone company when you joined. A private company or business of any kind does not have to protect the consumer's privacy regardless of the Constitution. If the government was running the phone company then there would be a problem. That is not the case.

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