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FBI Finds It Overstepped Bounds in Collecting Data

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the back-over-the-line-you dept.

Privacy 107

truthsearch writes with a link to a Washington Post article about an eyebrow raising internal FBI audit recently released to the public. The document finds that, contrary to a document release back in March, the FBI frequently overstepped its bounds in collecting data on US citizens. The article states that the organization may have violated laws or agency rules 'more than 1,000 times'. "The new audit covers just 10 percent of the bureau's national security investigations since 2002. The vast majority of the new violations were instances in which telephone companies and Internet providers gave agents phone and e-mail records the agents did not request and were not authorized to collect. But two dozen of the newly-discovered violations involved agents' requests for information that U.S. law did not allow them to have."

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107 comments

Never (5, Insightful)

uberjoe (726765) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508451)

What? The government abused it's power? But they said they wouldn't . . . I must admit I'm stunned.

Re:Never (2, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508633)

I must admit I'm stunned
 
What should stun you is that they not only bothered to investigate it themselves, they've admitted to the public that they've done it. Well, maybe it doesn't stun you because you're so used to it but more people than not in this world live in countries where this would never get investigated, nevermind released.

Re:Never (5, Insightful)

MyOtherUIDis3digits (926429) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508951)

What scares me is wondering what's the really bad thing going on that this is meant to distract us from.

Re:Never (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19514599)

"What scares me is wondering what's the really bad thing going on that this is meant to distract us from."

Dammit! I really needed to get sleep tonight too.

Re:Never (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19515375)

they ran over your dog man... they ran over your dog!!

Re:Never (1)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508985)

Well, maybe it doesn't stun you because you're so used to it but more people than not in this world live in countries where this would never get investigated, nevermind released.
Yes, in the US, we're much more sophisticated about such things. A few relatively low-level "bad apples" are caught and punished. That way, there may be a little outcry, but most people actually end up believing that there's real oversight.

Re:Never (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 6 years ago | (#19510545)

> few relatively low-level "bad apples" are caught and punished

Um, I skimmed the article, and there was no mention of anyone being punished. Just a 'we promise to try to do better sometime in the future'.

Re:Never (2, Insightful)

Intron (870560) | more than 6 years ago | (#19511975)

They have admitted it and as a result, the people within the FBI responsible for breaking the law have been identified and fired.

Oh wait, no they haven't. There seem to be no consequences at all.

But but but but... (2, Informative)

presarioD (771260) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508661)

...you've got "nothing to hide"(tm) so you shouldn't worry. Our comrades are after the "bad guys"(tm) only...

Re:Never (4, Funny)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508881)

What? The government abused it's power?
No. A few low level agents made mistakes which they know shouldn't be repeated. We told them it was probably not OK with some people the first time around, and now that's it's happening again, we've issued a fresh round of lukewarm admonishments.

Rest assured that the rule of law is important to us & all will be well.

Re:Never (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#19513177)

Rest assured that the rule of law is important to us & all will be well.

Oh yeah, one more thing: I still have complete confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Now, can we please get back to doing the people's bidness?

As a result of this stunning abuse (3, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#19511011)

  1. 10-20 million of Texans [wikipedia.org] have been starved to death, as their food "surplases" were confiscated.
  2. 90% percent of farmers joined collective farms [wikipedia.org].
  3. The concept of "money" was eliminated [open2.net].
  4. 30 million of Americans were declared "enemies of the people" and sentenced to 25 years of labor camps without the right to correspondence [wikipedia.org].

Just putting it into perspective... There are abuses, and there are other abuses...

Re:As a result of this stunning abuse (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#19512759)

Abuses lead to other abuses, which is why we must diligently and aggressively punish abuse.

so if I steal your car (1)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516429)

So if I steal your car and burn down your house, I could say in my defense that I didn't torture you to death, set your family on fire, and poison the water system, and that would serve to put what I actually did in perspective? I mean, there are millions of people Hitler and Stalin didn't kill, so I wish people would keep that in mind when they are being so alarmist. But I guess groupthink is easier than thinking. Or something.

Op>

Re:Never (1)

Xyrus (755017) | more than 6 years ago | (#19513427)

In other news, a recent FBI investigation concluded that the FBI had overstepped its bounds many times.....

*crickets* ...And Paris Hilton was released from the hospital....

*oooh ahhh omg poneez!!!11!*

~X~

Re:Never (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 6 years ago | (#19516417)

What? The government abused it's power? But they said they wouldn't . . . I must admit I'm stunned.

So what are they going to do about it, lie again?
To be honest this isn't news. It would be news if did what they said they were going to do and only that (i.e. actually followed the rules) for a month (even a week).

still breaking the law? (5, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508459)

Just because the info you got is legal to get, it doesn't mean the way you got it was legal... it sounds in the summary like they think they should escape prosecution/etc because the net result was data they could've got legally anyhow. So if I ask someone for money, and they give it to me, vs. I hit them and take it, I shouldn't get prosecuted, because the net result I'd have received anyhow?

Re:still breaking the law? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19508543)

What summary did you read? The one I read doesn't sound like that at all.

Re:still breaking the law? Maybe not. (5, Interesting)

cirby (2599) | more than 6 years ago | (#19509275)

It turns out that of that 1,000 incidents, 700 of them were from people at the companies sending too much (unrequested) information, not from over-intrusive FBI snooping. A few of the incidents had the agents sending out new letters requesting permission to use the extra info, but pretty much all of them were just discarded or filed away without anyone going through them (because you know someone would want to have a record of what was received, not what the agents actually wanted or used).

So out of that "1,000" it turns out to be 300 or less.

Because, as the article notes, it was "suspected" violations, not proven or even substantially indicated ones.

And this is out of what, almost 50,000 pieces of info requested? And that includes things like credit reports and other semi-public records - it's not like they're digging really deep for most of this. You get more investigation when you apply for a job with many companies.

A much less than 1% error rate is pretty damned good...

Re:still breaking the law? Maybe not. (1)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 6 years ago | (#19510993)

First, I would agree if it were all done in error. My question would simply be - In how many instances did they know they were vioalting the law? If >0 then it's not acceptable. Unfortunately, we will likely always hear "I'm sorry I didn't realize". The funny thing is that Joe Public is always told that ignorance is not a legal defense.

Second, it was an internal audit. Where are they publishing the instrument used to randomly pull 10% of the investigations? If we don't get to see the instrument we need to assume a bias on behalf of the investigators, which sullies the results.

Still not cool. (1)

dj245 (732906) | more than 6 years ago | (#19511367)

Who are these companies and why are they giving out too much information? Can some consumer advocacy group list them in some sort of list with a suitable ranking? Perhaps with the top 8 or 11 or so particularly bad ones?

Re:still breaking the law? Maybe not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19512411)

Companies sending out unrequested information is a problem, but I blame the FBI for that too.

In some ways it's similar to the providers that implement China's Great Firewall, having to decide on their own what to block without explicit government guidance.

Re:still breaking the law? (1)

morleron (574428) | more than 6 years ago | (#19512169)

I think you're absolutely right about this. Here's how the Feds are now recruiting people for the FBI and DOJ:

(recruitment)
Hey! Step right right up and put your name down for a job with the FBI or DOJ and possible nomination as next U.S. Attorney General. You've got just the attributes we here in Washington are looking for, primarily, the ability to rationalize anything that Der Führer^w^w President Bush wants done. You'll fit in nicely here in Washington, the land of the Big Lie, little credibility, and less truth than contained in any Fox News report on the "War on Terrorism". Why, I'm sure you realize that those so-called "black" CIA prisons that the ACLU and other un-patriotic civil libertarian groups are concerned about are really nice little weekend vacation spots chosen so as to put people (who are kept anonymous only for their own protection) in the mood to talk to us about the time they spent with Osama bin Laden. And those FBI oversights, well, you and I both know that no harm was done to anyone who had nothing to hide. Anyone who thinks we did wrongly just isn't looking at the world in the right way; know what I mean, kid? (/recruitment)

It's time to really start putting the pressure on our spineless Congresscritters to impeach that little sawed-off, two-bit, spawn of a syphilitic whore and a baboon who calls himself "The Decider" before it's too late to do so. Every time he and his cronies are allowed to get away with this sort of thing it is regarded by those in Washington as setting a precedent for what others may do in the future: the starting point for new abuses, as it were. Keep those cards and letters going to the jellyfish in Congress and maybe they'll use them to fashion some sort of spine.

Just my $.02,
Ron

Compared To Bush's Wiretapping (2, Insightful)

neoform (551705) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508471)

Compared to the illegal wiretapping that Bush & Co. were/are doing.. this seems relatively small potatoes..

Re:Compared To Bush's Wiretapping (5, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508589)

> Compared to the illegal wiretapping that Bush & Co. were/are doing.. this seems relatively small potatoes..

Hey, we wanted a government that listens to its people, and we got one!

Small potatoes, but from the same potato Bush... (1, Flamebait)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508719)

Compared to the illegal wiretapping that Bush & Co. were/are doing.. this seems relatively small potatoes..

Might not be as major, but certainly worth pursuing, as it's another symptom of this runaway federal power binge that's really picked up steam since George the Second came into power. The FBI oversteps and Bush & Co's power grab are part of the same thing.

Incidentally, there's another George floating around in the Bush family, and he's young enough he might yet go for politics. The last time we had three Georges in power things got a little funny. Things are pretty bad this time around after just two. I'm feeling a little déjà vu for some reason... maybe because we're dealing with roughly the same issue -- "taxation without representation", i.e. the bullies in power overstepping their bounds, ignoring the stated laws / conventions, and claiming we owe them more than we think we do, and us with no real recourse. Hmmm...

Re:Small potatoes, but from the same potato Bush.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19508799)

The last time we had three Georges in power things got a little funny

Well, that time the King seized all of the property of the dominant church of the country, and started beheading people until they agreed that the King was superior to the church.

A lesson learned well by our founding fathers, and one that those who think that Christianity has any business in politics would do well to remember.

Re:Small potatoes, but from the same potato Bush.. (3, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | more than 6 years ago | (#19509065)

The vast majority of the new violations were instances in which telephone companies and Internet providers gave agents phone and e-mail records the agents did not request
 
How the heck is this a "symptom of this runaway federal power binge"? Sounds more like extremely poor data security management at the service providers. Meanwhile, there were 22 cases out of a thousand in the audit where agents asked for more than they were authorized to get. That's hardly a runaway binge. Next time, please rtfa.

Re:Small potatoes, but from the same potato Bush.. (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 6 years ago | (#19509303)

Thanks magarity, but I did rtfa. Note that my reply was to someone talking about the hidden and unconstitutional NSA wiretapping arrangement, which is directly about the feds. Note also that there *were* instances of direct and improper FBI requests:

But two dozen of the newly-discovered violations involved agents' requests for information that U.S. law did not allow them to have.

To step beyond the scope of my initial response, the telcos and ISPs simply *providing* such records to law enforcement officials *without being asked* is not so much a matter of extremely poor data security management, as you put, but more a matter of active corporate collusion with government to erode freedoms. Because hey, let's face it, truly free and private consumers are harder to sell to. It's all about the benjamins, in the end.

Re:Compared To Bush's Wiretapping (4, Informative)

blhack (921171) | more than 6 years ago | (#19509005)

Compared to the illegal wiretapping that Bush & Co. were/are doing.. this seems relatively small potatoes..
Don't be naive, the United States (and pretty much the rest of the 1st world) has been wiretapping its citizens since the 70's
link [wikipedia.org]

"Bush & Co" as you so elegantly called our Chief Executive and his staff, are just the first people to actually be OPEN about it.

YOU INSENSATIVE CLOD!
;-), just cause this is slashdot.

Re:Compared To Bush's Wiretapping (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#19509677)

But there is a difference between, say, wiretapping under supervision of a court because you had enough of a case to warrant it... and just shooting in the dark hoping to catch something. You know, legal vs. illegal wiretapping.

Not to say the government has always been straight as an arrow about it, but Bush & Co. have by far been the most brazen about their exploits. C'mon guys, at least try to act like you're not violating the laws with total abandon.
=Smidge=

Re:Compared To Bush's Wiretapping (1)

Weirsbaski (585954) | more than 6 years ago | (#19513233)

"Bush & Co" as you so elegantly called our Chief Executive and his staff, are just the first people to actually be OPEN about it.

Wow, put it like that and it almost sounds like the current guys are being honorable about it, as if they said "We're doing exactly A and B, but we'd never stoop to C!".

When what's actually happening is they're being called out for taking the existing slimy activity, and trying to quietly expand it to unconstitutional new levels C, D, and F.

Re:Compared To Bush's Wiretapping (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#19514277)

Uhm...they aren't being "open" about it except for their blatant violation of the law. What they are being is incompetent about it. Thats like telling me the guy who shoots up a bunch of people in the mall was being "open" about it and assigning some virtue to that, but the guy that shoots them in the dark alley wasn't.

The upshot is at least people are becoming aware of the fact that they have been being tapped. Not that much has been done about this other than Congress signing stuff that says "illegal wiretapping is illegal" as if that wasn't the most redundant and moronic waste of time and money they have come up with yet. I actually am convinced that it even surpasses the unanimous vote that "cancer is bad" (except for the 3 people who abstained from voting, probably because they were busy giving breast exams to hookers).

Re:Compared To Bush's Wiretapping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19509211)

Only one thing we need to do is impeach bush!

big suprise.. (3, Insightful)

Victor Tramp (5336) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508499)

When a populace forgets that being free doesn't equate to being safe, and when a populace forgets that being secure doesn't mean being being free; then those who seek to have power over the populace, will.

All that illegal information... (4, Funny)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508553)

...and they still couldn't nail Tony Soprano. The FBI is a shadow of its former self.

Re:All that illegal information... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19508663)

When you consider the number of times the feebs have been compromised by organized crime, the former Soviet Union, China's Department of Public Security, one can only wonder where all this information they've gathered is going????

The Government (0, Troll)

WarpSnotTheDark (997032) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508577)

Baby I'm more than a little concerned you see about the New World Order conspiracies And the covert spreading of deadly disease They've got earthquake machines and UFO's and black helicopters wherever we go But I forget them all when you are with me They can telepathically read my mind I'm not scared of what they'll find Let them do what they're gonna do Cuz if the government can read my mind they know I'm thinking of you. They've got secretly funded internment camps and biological warfare labs But when you look at me they all don't seem so bad They've got Martian traded technology, and mind control psychology I'll let them do what they wanna do Cuz if the government can read my mind they know I'm thinking of you. I could stockpile food and join a militia but I'd rather stay at home and kiss ya Let them do what they're gonna do Cuz if the government can read my mind they know I'm thinking of you. If the government can read my mind baby you know it doesn't matter what they find Cuz if the government can read my mind they know I'm thinking of you. -The Vandals "If The Government Could Read My Mind"

Re:The Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19508637)

Hit 'Preview' next time, mkay?

x-files (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19508581)

perfect! just as I am at season 6 of my personal x-file rerun extravaganza

Punishment? (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508699)

Justice Department and FBI investigators are trying to determine if any FBI headquarters officials should be held accountable or punished for those abuses, and have begun advising agents of their due process rights during interviews.

Held accountable? "Punished for those abuses"? Exactly what would that be? Suspension with pay so these agents can sit around, drink beer, and watch Jerry Springer while getting paid?

They violated the Constitution and our Civil Rights while "protecting" our Freedom....Oh God! (To steal from Fark) - the irony tag assplodes!

Solution (5, Interesting)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508707)

Every FBI agent who asked for/took information not legally allowed should be sacked immediately, they either don't know the law they are enforcing or are deliberately breaking it themselves. No excuses, they should be sacked. With ten thousand offences (1000, but only 10% sample was taken) The management should be removed and replace. Maybe this would give a proper signal of what the people expect of their law enforcement and show to the people that criminal activity isn't tolerated anywhere.

They either do this, or the populace should not feel under any compulsion to comply with any laws at all, or pay taxes, this is because the government has a responsibility as well as the individual, if the government has shirked its responsibiity no citizen can be expected in return to have any responsibility to the government.

I know this seems extreme but in the long run it would be the right move giving a good precedent and restoring a large amount of faith in the system.

Additional Solution (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508883)

Every FBI agent who asked for/took information not legally allowed should be sacked immediately, ...

Excellent first step.

As a second step how about we enshrine in law a protection for citizens that are requested to comply with such overreaching data collection techniques. Think about it, if you were asked by a government agency to do something you thougtht was immoral, then one choice would only involve your concience, but the other choice might involve legal trouble and possible jail time. Citizens need protection too.

Re:Solution (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508899)

Every FBI agent who asked for/took information not legally allowed should be sacked immediately, they either don't know the law they are enforcing or are deliberately breaking it themselves. No excuses, they should be sacked.

I don't think we should be giving them any special treatment. If they broke the law they should be prosecuted just like any other citizen. Actually, IMNSHO, since they wield power over the average citizen they should be held to a higher standard and so deserve harsher punishment.

Re:Solution (0, Offtopic)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 6 years ago | (#19510189)

Every FBI agent who asked for/took information not legally allowed should be sacked immediately, they either don't know the law they are enforcing or are deliberately breaking it themselves. No excuses, they should be sacked.

Every sysadmin who had a system crash should be sacked immediately; they either don't know the systems they are adminstering or are deliberately crashing them themselves. No excuses, they should be sacked.

Re:Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19510501)

Sacked? Not good enough. They should be jailed.

Poll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19511037)

Who here got to work today without violating any laws? Think hard!

Re:Solution (1)

huckamania (533052) | more than 6 years ago | (#19512421)

The remedy to these types of transgressions is that any evidence obtained from such can not be admitted into evidence. That is a pretty good system. It's not perfect, but then that is the nature of this world, pretty good but not perfect. We can not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

I don't consider this giving up liberty as it is the job of the FBI to investigate crimes. Gathering data is a huge part of that job and as we don't have robot agents yet, human error will always be a factor. That being said, agents that knowingly abuse their power should be investigated and charged.

Those arguing for perfection are naive. It's almost as bad as saying mistakes have been made in the Iraq war. As opposed to those other wars where no mistakes were made. War and mistake are pretty much synonymous, the Vietnam mistake, the Korean mistake, World Mistake II, World Mistake I, the Spanish-American mistake, the mistake of 1812... Get the picture. I won't call the American Revolution a mistake although plenty were made on both sides.

Re:Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19513595)

Good idea. Fire the 1000 highly trained FBI agents and what? Replace them with genius's like... ...you?

They must have known (2, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508711)

They must have known and someone must have authorized it. Why aren't we reading about that person being fired or better yet pulled up in court?

Re:They must have known (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19508859)

They must have known and someone must have authorized it. Why aren't we reading about that person being fired or better yet pulled up in court?

Terror terror freedom terror way of life terror harm us terror terror!

Imagine what the NSA has gotten away with (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#19509053)

They knew, they just didn't care and never expected to have to answer for it. Yet another shining example of why you should NEVER just take an administration or agency at its word when they say "Don't worry, we promise not to abuse this power."

If this is what the FBI has gotten away with, it sends a shudder up my spine to think what the NSA has gotten away with (and is STILL getting away with). I wouldn't be a bit surprised to learn that they're randomly fishing the entire U.S. population: listening in on citizens' calls, opening mail, and perusing credit reports. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that they have the phones of every Democrat in Congress tapped and are passing along that info to the President. Nothing would surprise me anymore in this country.

Let me guess the outcome... (1)

mattgreen (701203) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508761)

Ooh, ooh, I know what'll happen!

Let's see, internal audit finds out that privacy laws were broken during an investigation. Then, it gets printed in the newspaper, but doesn't receive much discussion. Guilty parties get a slap on the wrist, and 'accidentally' make the same mistakes again in future investigations. If the matter is pressed, the official response amounts to, "Sorry everyone, but you see, we got to protect you from dem terrorists!"

In the words of Joel from MST3K: "...we're stuck in a Moebius strip of a movie!"

Re:Let me guess the outcome... (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508989)

Ya know, Good Citizen mattgreen, the other day I was discussing the similarities with a sociopolitically like-minded fellow (who actually still believes the "official" stories of the JFK assassination and the attacks on 9/11/01) between those two events - JFK's assassination and 9/11/01 - and I stopped immediately after mentioning that half of the clowns on the Warren Commission had been fired by JFK and the clown they used to justify stereotyping Oswald as a nutjob (that would be General Walker) was fired with extreme prejudice by President Kennedy (in fact, the telephone tapes of many of the problems JFK had with this rightwing, Liberty Lobby/John Birch/pro-segregation nutjob are to be found at the Kennedy Presidential Library) as I realized how ludicrous it sounds to even discuss this.

And to repeat, the House Select Assassinations Committee (1979) did find that it was indeed a conspiracy and testimony and documentation was provided that Oswald was an FBI informant and on the CIA's payroll - why does everyone forget that???? I mention this as the people involved with this are still alive and brought us 9/11/01 and bringing us this imbecile in the White House.....

Really? I'd never have guessed. (2, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508785)

While there is no personal cost to law enforcement agents breaking the law, they will continue to break it. They're human, so that's not suprising.

Until there is serious punishment liked docked pay, a firing or prison time (depending on the severity) for blatent lawlessness on the part of the law enforcement agencies, they will continue to do as they please.

Bad feds only half the problem (4, Insightful)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 6 years ago | (#19509389)

And allow me to rephrase that for you:

While there is no personal cost to corporate agents breaking the law, they will continue to break it. They're human, so that's not suprising.

Until there is serious punishment liked docked pay, a firing or prison time (depending on the severity) for blatant lawlessness on the part of the corporations, they will continue to do as they please.

There. Now we've covered both halves of this corrupt equation.

The truly ironic part. . . (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508925)

The truly ironic part of all of this is that the FBI was originally created to investigate and oversee GOVERNMENT actions to prevent these sorts of abuses in the first place; to prevent tyranny and corruption. Now it is carrying out the exact opposite of its charter.

"Law Enforcement" is a misnomer (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 6 years ago | (#19508971)

Why is it that both the Department of Justice and FBI seem to be violating so many laws these days? Shouldn't our law enforcement agencies be setting good examples for the citizens? These agencies should be held more accountable than your average citizen, because its their job to know the difference between legal and illegal. Placing your government agencies above the laws they create and enforce is very dangerous and tends to lead to the creation of a police state.

A government without limits is far scarier than any terrorists could ever be.

Re:"Law Enforcement" is a misnomer (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#19509133)

Why is it that both the Department of Justice and FBI seem to be violating so many laws these days?

Maybe you're just finally paying attention to it? I'm finding more and more people who couldn't have cared less pre-9/11 are now up in arms about the smallest movement within government that is questionable.

Now here's my real question: Are you same people going to be so scrutinising and demanding when the next guy takes office?

So much of this just seem like political spin to get a Democrat in office that, frankly, I'm concerned that most people are going to turn a blind eye once they get "their boy" in office. What's worse yet is the people who don't think this kind of stuff doesn't go on under nearly every administration. As I see it Bush just finally took off the gloves and gave this kind of thing a face.

Or do you really think Bush was the first one to come up with stuff like the PATRIOT Act off the cuff?

Re:"Law Enforcement" is a misnomer (1)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 6 years ago | (#19510141)

Maybe you're just finally paying attention to it? I'm finding more and more people who couldn't have cared less pre-9/11 are now up in arms about the smallest movement within government that is questionable. Now here's my real question: Are you same people going to be so scrutinising and demanding when the next guy takes office? So much of this just seem like political spin to get a Democrat in office that, frankly, I'm concerned that most people are going to turn a blind eye once they get "their boy" in office. What's worse yet is the people who don't think this kind of stuff doesn't go on under nearly every administration. As I see it Bush just finally took off the gloves and gave this kind of thing a face. Or do you really think Bush was the first one to come up with stuff like the PATRIOT Act off the cuff?

Damn straight, both parties are big government, big nanny and big brother nowadays, if that wasn't the case since the parties originally got their names. Cindy Sheehan, the former leader of the anti-war movement was greeted graciously and shared stages with ranking democrats as the face and voice of the anti-Iraq movement until the Democrats took majorities in both houses of Congress. Cindy continued her fight, because hey, she was actually anti-war, who would've thought it! And when she started to question the Democrats about why they weren't withdrawing funding to end the war that party turned on her as well. It's amazing, anti-war while you aren't in office, get into office and well, we just wanted to be anti-war to score political points. And then just a little while ago she resigned, which was barely covered in the mainstream media. She had her message on her site that both parties in the end are the same and simply use human lives to score political points in order to gain seats of power, but the message wasn't really covered that well in the media and the debate goes on. Nobody stops the war, people keep dying and .gov keeps spying. Both parties are corrupt pieces of shit and both should promptly be out on their asses, but people can never seem to find an alternative.

Re:"Law Enforcement" is a misnomer (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#19510239)

but people can never seem to find an alternative.

No, people never take a chance on the alternative. Every election I've ever voted in there has always been a good representation of third party and indie candidates. Few ever get elected because people actually believe it's better to vote for who might win vs who represents them best. Maybe if people took the time and heart to vote for who represents them best maybe they'd have a chance to win.

Re:"Law Enforcement" is a misnomer (1)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 6 years ago | (#19510339)

No, people never take a chance on the alternative. Every election I've ever voted in there has always been a good representation of third party and indie candidates. Few ever get elected because people actually believe it's better to vote for who might win vs who represents them best. Maybe if people took the time and heart to vote for who represents them best maybe they'd have a chance to win.

Why is this though? You ever asked that question? Other countries have party systems but more diverse representation. The answer is pretty easy, it's the winner-takes-all majority idea in the Constitution. It's a simple mistake that will never get fixed simply because the two parties that will ever conceivably win a majority in either Congress chamber don't want it fixed. They don't see the two-party system as broken, and so it'll never get fixed. If you expect everyone to suddenly jump ship from one major party to some minor third party that's unlikely to ever happen. If there was some reason, other than to work toward having a majority in Congress, to vote for a local third party member I think you'd find a lot of people doing it. But if their party doesn't win Congress, it really doesn't matter who is their representative, the representative might as well not be in the building if they don't agree with the majority, and that's why a lot of times they aren't.

Re:"Law Enforcement" is a misnomer (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#19511233)

I think not having a majority of any party in congress is the solution. I don't think I can convince many of this but it is what it is. Not to say that I've thrown in the towel, I still vote third party, but I know that it will take a lot of time before people move in one direction or the other.

In some secret way I was hoping that there would be enough splintering at the points where Nader and Perot were in the mix that some of the moderates of both parties would have gone away from their own little party influences but this simply isn't the case.

Also, I think that aiming straight for the federal level is slightly over ambitious. Maybe some solid state and local officials can make some moderates more encouraged to try for third party victories.

Not to nitpick but... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19509009)

The vast majority of the new violations were instances in which telephone companies and Internet providers gave agents phone and e-mail records the agents did not request and were not authorized to collect.

Isn't this along the lines of me handing you a 20 for a 10 dollar bill, leaving your place of business only to return with the police proclaiming that you overcharged me?

While the 2 dozen or so counts of obtaining information by request that they didn't have rights to is very valid I find these other charges kind of dubious.

Re:Not to nitpick but... (2, Interesting)

parcel (145162) | more than 6 years ago | (#19509381)

Isn't this along the lines of me handing you a 20 for a 10 dollar bill, leaving your place of business only to return with the police proclaiming that you overcharged me?

From the article: The vast majority of the new violations were instances in which telephone companies and Internet providers gave agents phone and e-mail records the agents did not request and were not authorized to collect. The agents retained the information anyway in their files...

So to try to fit your analogy, it's more like you were given $10 extra in change, and knowingly and willfully kept it.

OK to Violate Privacy for Taxes? (1)

monxrtr (1105563) | more than 6 years ago | (#19509207)

Far too many that complain about this sort of thing on ./ are the exact same people who believe in violent forced income redistribution, including registering SSN, address, age, salary, bank account #, etc. just to work at a job and be robbed by the government. Alas, their wolf "cries" of privacy violation have lost luster.

"collecting data on US citizens" (3, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#19509357)

They were "collecting data on US citizens". I guess that's the modern way to say they were spying.

Who's the bigger asshole here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19509387)

The government agents asking for they aren't authorized for, or the telcos who just threw open the kimono and gave them more than what they asked for?

Costs are too great (3, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 6 years ago | (#19509423)


I _know_ that this is not likely to be a popular opinion. I _know_ that this is decidedly unpatriotic, but I want to say it anyway:

This just isn't worth it.

The cost of our 'war on terror' is far outstripping any harm that those 'terrorist' groups could have done to us. We have sacrificed the lives of young men and women to war than were lost on 9/11, by a long shot. We have likely spent, or at least will spend, far more money than we lost in that attack. We have lost our faith in our leadership's ability to keep us safe and happy at the same time. We're losing our civil liberties and are devolving into a police state.

WHY?

Is this all really, truly just because a handful of zealots MIGHT crash more planes into more buildings?

People joke about "if you do 'x', the terrorists win". In all seriousness, the truth is, if we are going to live in fear we may as well forfeit.

Re:Costs are too great (1, Insightful)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 6 years ago | (#19510275)

The cost of our 'war on terror' is far outstripping any harm that those 'terrorist' groups could have done to us. We have sacrificed the lives of young men and women to war than were lost on 9/11, by a long shot. We have likely spent, or at least will spend, far more money than we lost in that attack. We have lost our faith in our leadership's ability to keep us safe and happy at the same time. We're losing our civil liberties and are devolving into a police state.

Of course. However, you have to ask yourself why 9/11 is enough to mount a large "war on terror" spending billions around the globe and what Iraq has to do with 9/11. The answer is kind of staring us all in the face. 9/11 provides a great excuse for military spending and filtering of contracts and dough to certain people in positions of power in certain corporations. Someone wanted us to go to war before 9/11, a whole lot of people wanted us to. 9/11 is the *excuse* for the killing of the young men, but it's definitely not the reason they are dying. 9/11 is the excuse for the domestic spying, but it's not the reason why it's being done. People in power love to create wars and police states if they have the stomach for it. It's clear that our present leaders do indeed have the stomach for it. It's been said before by someone, and again I'm probably misquoting, that if Bush didn't have 9/11 he would've had to make one. I'm not saying 9/11 was fake or anything (those 9/11 conspiracy people are nuts), but it was certainly very convenient for him and his cronies.

Re:Costs are too great (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 6 years ago | (#19511925)

I'm not saying 9/11 was fake or anything (those 9/11 conspiracy people are nuts)..

Hmmmm.....I see....so it was logical for an immediate investigative commission to be created after the Challenger [wikipedia.org] explosion, but not illogical for this Bush administration to do everything possible to interdict any sort of investigative 9/11/01 commission from ever taking place, and finally when they capitulate to its existence, they refuse to allow it to have any subpoena powers, refuse to allow Bush and Cheney to testify under oath, severely underfund it, then try to have the American Business Representative of the BinLaden Group, Henry Kissinger, as the head of this investigative commission....Holy Crap!!!!

Would we like to define your very weird definition of "nuts"???

And FYI, numnuts, you might check out the passenger list (as would have been done during a real criminal investigation) of those four commercial airliners involved....you might just learn something....for a change!

Re:Costs are too great (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#19510451)

I _know_ that this is not likely to be a popular opinion. I _know_ that this is decidedly unpatriotic, but I want to say it anyway:

This just isn't worth it.

While I agree with you, you should probably dispense with the martyrdom. 95% of the readers here agree with you, and I'm sure you knew that when you posted.

More accurate would be to phrase your sentence "Just like everyone else here, I don't think this is worth it."

Re:Costs are too great (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#19511573)

Is this all really, truly just because a handful of zealots MIGHT crash more planes into more buildings? People joke about "if you do 'x', the terrorists win". In all seriousness, the truth is, if we are going to live in fear we may as well forfeit.

To sum up: If we sacrifice all our freedoms for the illusion of security, the terrorists win anyway...

Re:Costs are too great (1)

Darby (84953) | more than 6 years ago | (#19512009)


I _know_ that this is not likely to be a popular opinion. I _know_ that this is decidedly unpatriotic, but I want to say it anyway:


It's quite a popular opinion, held by the vast majority of Americans.
It's also a decidedly patriotic position that has been obvious to anyone with half a brain since before they even started trying to sell this bullshit war.

Are you seriously just pulling your head far enough out of your butt to have finally noticed this?

Bill Maher: mail myself a copy of the Constitution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19509539)

Bill Maher on Sacrifice

        Maher: And finally, new rule: liberals must stop saying President Bush hasn't asked Americans to sacrifice for the War on Terror. On the contrary, he's asked us to sacrifice something enormous: Our civil rights. (full transcript below the fold via IBN)

        Now, when I heard George Bush was reading my e-mails, I probably had the same reaction you did-George Bush can read?! (Laughter.) Yes he can, and this administration has read your phone records, credit card statements, mail, internet logs... I can't tell if their fighting the War on Terror or producing the next season of Cheater. (Laughter.) I mail myself a copy of the Constitution every morning, just on the hope they'll open it and see what it says! (Laughter and applause).

[google for this, the video in online]

-- Prof. Jonathan Vos Post

Frist 5top! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19509541)

[tux.org]? Are you *BSD but FreeBSD boUght the farm...

And the problem is? (1, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 6 years ago | (#19509563)

Ok, an internal audit found a few (a couple dozen so this piece says) places where they probably crossed the line. They found a problem and will now see what policy changes can be made to reduce the chances of it happening again. The system worked as designed. Massive government operation makes mistakes, film at 11. Hello! It's a massive inefficient government operation changed with the almost impossible task of doing both law enforcement AND anti terrorism/counter insurgency operations while Democtats insist they do it with both hands tied behind their backs and hopping on one foot. The amazing thing is they have managed to keep anything from going FOOM! for almost six years and only having a few excersions from the insane rules imposed on them.

Listen up you primitive screwheads, I really think we should be playing to win, if we keep screwing around with these assholes, sooner or later they are going to get another major win and we will lose another major landmark. There is a difference between law enforcement against citizens and spying on foreign powers and their operatives inside our shores. So yes there should be strong safeguards to prevent intelligence data (collected with few rules) from crossing back into law enforcement activities, but spy vs spy stuff can't play under the same patticake rules we go after the mob under or we lose. Because the mob isn't out to KILL us, only sell us things we want anyway but the nanny state doesn't think we should have.

Re:And the problem is? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19510549)

The problem is this is supposed to be the land of the free. Many people sacrificed their lives in order to keep it that. If you're willing to give up YOUR freedom in the name of safety, I'll lock the door on your padded cell myself. The rest of us will go on living outside your cell, facing the threats from tornados, car crashes, and terrorists. With any luck, we might even recognize their causes. With even more luck, we might address the root issues (hint, it's not that someone has a gun/bacterium/nuke).

I'm leaving the military after 18 years because of the arrogance this country is exhibiting. It's clear to me that our real problem is people like you who cannot look beyond a few terrorist trees, to see the forest. Then again, maybe we've already had our chance. Time for a global reset. I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Name's Ash. Housewares.

Re:And the problem is? (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 6 years ago | (#19510913)


Well then I guess they can have the damn landmark. I'll keep my freedoms, thank you.

Re:And the problem is? (1)

Darby (84953) | more than 6 years ago | (#19512155)

They found a problem and will now see what policy changes can be made to reduce the chances of it happening again. The system worked as designed.Massive government operation makes mistakes, film at 11. Hello! It's a massive inefficient government operation changed with the almost impossible task of doing both law enforcement AND anti terrorism/counter insurgency operations while Democtats insist they do it with both hands tied behind their backs and hopping on one foot./i.

Oh, right, of course it must alwayts be the fault of the evil Democrats. Clearly they only want to hurt poor innocent president Bush.
Obviously all the laws that were put into place for the purpose of protecting the citizens of this nation from the government over the years should immediately be thrown out and we should all jump on the Fascist bandwagon because jmorris42 got scared of the largely made up threat of terrorism, wet his pants and sat on the curb crying his cowardly little eyes out while screaming for the big nanny state to protect him from the threat that they largely made up.

Here's a better idea.
How about you grow a pair, grow up, and act like a man for once in your life instead of being a crying little pussy coward?

This is, after all, the land of the free and the home of the brave.
That means since you're far too cowardly to live in a free country that this isn't your land and it ain't your home.

So either man up or get packing you whining little bitch.

Re:And the problem is? (0, Troll)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 6 years ago | (#19512189)

The amazing thing is they have managed to keep anything from going FOOM! for almost six years....

Hmmm...let's see: was there any such 9/11/01 attack prior to Bush taking office? No, only after. Hmmm...has there been another day - the first in American history - when a series of American military exercises (three in number) took place on the exact same day, in the exact same time frame, replicating the very terrorist attacks that took place that day? (That would be plane hi-jackings and planes flying into government buildings - with a biowarfare exercise going on in NYC that very same day - conveniently placing certain people away from the Emergency Ops Center at the WTC.) Negative on that as well.

Gee...what a peculiar, mind-numbing set of coincidences which transpired that day - and only that day!

Listen up you primitive screwheads, I really think we should be playing to win...

Hmmm.....so let's completely destablize the Middle East by attacking the one secular country not involved with 9/11/01 attacks and which Osama (you might remember he's supposed to have something to do with that stuff) considers his mortal enemies. Next, the USA should attack Osama's second mortal enemy, Iran (again, another country which had nothing to do with 9/11/01 - I believe that was supposed to be the work of those Bush family friends, the bin Ladens)? Over 1/2 a trillion dollars spent - still no Osama and the Taliban are stronger than ever - but at least that drug trafficking is stronger than ever from Afghanistan - something which always occurs whenever a Bush is in - or near - the White House.

Re:And the problem is? (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 6 years ago | (#19512981)

> Hmmm...let's see: was there any such 9/11/01 attack prior to Bush taking office?

Oh God, I'm actually going to argue with an idiot "Truther." But this shit needs to be answered instead of ignored. When you morons first started spouting this nonsense sane people ignored you, but recent surveys show your sickness has now infected large segments of the socialist/left/netcrazies population.

Guess you forgot the first attempt to knock the WTC down during the Clinton Administration. Or the multitude of attacks on US interests outside the US going back to the Iran hostage incident. No, lets forget all that, because terrorism didn't exist until Bushitler invented it as a method of inducing fear amongst the sheeple so he could become dictator for life. And lets forget that you morons can't even agree whether Bushitler is the stupidist person ever to hold high office or the most cunning evil genius ever born.

No Occams Razor for you. You reject the simple plain Truth and invent wild conspiracy theories. But straight up, for a multitude of reasons there are now about a billion people who want us and our entire way of life wiped from the map and even the history books. Most aren't willing to actually do more than cheer on the few engaged in actual war with us at the moment but it gives the terrorists ample support and cover. If even 0.1% are potential combatants that gives a million foes, honoring no rule of civilized warfare, willing to use WMD the second they cab manufactire, buy or steal one and utterly devoted to our total destruction. They can't be reasoned with, they must be hunted down and killed. The sooner we face that and get serious about our task the better our odds of survival.

Next we have to find a way to drain the swamp that breeds these fanatics. It doesn't look like Bush's plan to do it by spreading the blessings of liberty is working out so we need a plan B. And I really hope we come up with one because in the end, if we don't find a better way, it will come down to us or them. And I'd hate to see the West have to massacre that many people.

> Hmmm.....so let's completely destablize the Middle East by attacking the one secular country not involved with
> 9/11/01 attacks and which Osama (you might remember he's supposed to have something to do with that stuff)
> considers his mortal enemies.

Considering what was passing for 'stable' in the Middle East, sure! Primitive 7th century theocracies and dictators who can only agree that killing jews and Americans is good thing? Blow that status quo right the hell up! We (unwisely in my humble opinion) turned a blind eye to the horrible conditions in the ME for decades in the interest of 'stability'. That might have had a certain logic during the Cold War but we are paying a terrible price now.

And no, Saddam was not directly involved in 9/11. But the guy WAS a direct sponsor of terrorism and was growing a relationship with Al Qaeda despite their differences, remember that agreement on killing jews and Americans tends to trump all of their other differences when it comes crunch time. Lets remember just how many known terrorists were publicly sheltered by Saddam. Lets remember that Saddam was openly sponsoring multiple terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East. Saddam was directly paying the families of suicide bombers to encourage more to kill civilians. Lets remember that the US (and UN endorsed Coalition) was still formally at War with Iraq. Until Saddam was certified as in compliance with the terms of the Cease Fire a formal state was War remained.

> Over 1/2 a trillion dollars spent - still no Osama and the Taliban are stronger than ever -

Not even in the same ballpark with objective reality. Before we invaded Afganistan the Taliban were the undisputed rulers, openly oppressing damn near everyone and giving Al Qaeda a free hand to run training camps, etc. No the Taliban are not defeated, operating now out of remote areas of Pakistan, but they no longer rule much actual territory.

And yes it would be good to be able to stick UBL's head on a pointy stick in front of the White House (and that's exactly what I'd do were I in charge, put his head on a stick and toss the body into a meat grinder with a pig.) but he lives a life of fear these days instead of causing it. And eventually his luck will run out. Meanwhile we have decimated his organization. Now it is evolving and mutating, attempting to find a way to strike back. But our side never said this War would be easy or swift, from day one it was stated it would be epic struggle lasting at least a generation.

Criminal Cops (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#19510087)

When you (except you, the FBI agent snooping on this message) or I "overstep bounds" like those the FBI "overstepped" in this operation, we're guilty of breaking the law. We're criminals. The people the FBI are responsible for arresting and pushing into the justice system that jails us.

Who at the FBI will even get fired for their crimes? Who will be charged? No one. They should be held to a higher standard than are civilians, because of the stakes at risk in their control, and the trust they're given based on their superior integrity. But instead, no one every gets fired, no one is ever charged.

We cannot be surprised when cops not only do crimes repeatedly when they're not punished, but are more tempted to do them, their integrity undermined. Because by failing to hold them to account, to pay for their crimes, we demonstrate that our laws are arbitrary, our government merely force, not justice.

alright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19510405)

That does it. I love this country too much for the government to go and destroy it. Time for armed rebellion.

Re:alright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19512977)

That does it. I love this country too much for the government to go and destroy it. Time for armed rebellion.


Aren't behaving just a little insensitively towards amputees?

Uh-oh! (3, Funny)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 6 years ago | (#19514119)

Sounds like there are going to be a few more wholly unrelated firings that Alberto Gonzales will naturally have nothing to do with coming up!

You have to give them some credit (1)

M0nk-e (1104673) | more than 6 years ago | (#19514767)

Overstepping boundaries? You have to give them some credit for trying it the Jack Bauer way.

Hit 'em where it hurt$ (1)

Newt-dog (528340) | more than 6 years ago | (#19515663)

Sometimes you need to hold them to the GOLD standard -- for every breach of privacy infraction they need to fork over $1,000 - $10,000. (depending on the infraction)

For instance: I get a lot less spam faxes since you can sue a company for $500 - $1,000 in small claims court for EACH spam fax you get. (in California) When I get a spam fax, I call and give them 1 warning, then I'll sue. I haven't gotten 1 since I started doing that.

If the FBI had a watchdog committee audit them and cut everyone a check from the FBI budget for each infraction, either we would profit, or they would coverup more.
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