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FBI Employees Face Criminal Probe Over Patriot Act

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the keep-your-fingers-to-yourself dept.

Privacy 217

DevanJedi writes "According to an article at Wired.com , several FBI agents are under investigation for illegally acquiring information an American citizens. Overzealous agents used 'misleading emergency letters' obtain phone records of thousands of Americans. This marks the first time government officers have been prosecuted for misuse of the Patriot Act. From the article: 'Unit employees, who are not authorized to request records in investigations, sent form letters to telephone companies to acquire detailed billing information on specific phone numbers by falsely promising that subpoenas were already in the works. According to a third source, FBI officials also said at the meeting that some bureau employees have already been granted immunity from prosecution in the investigation. The third source, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, did not recall, however, that FBI officials described the investigation as "criminal."'"

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Wow...just wow (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19842579)

"FBI officials also said at the meeting that some bureau employees have already been granted immunity from prosecution in the investigation."

If this is true, I honestly don't know what to say anymore.

I'm moving to Antarctica.

Re:Wow...just wow (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842651)

"FBI officials also said at the meeting that some bureau employees have already been granted immunity from prosecution in the investigation."

If this is true, I honestly don't know what to say anymore.


I do. It's high time the American people hold the government accountable for its actions and use its power of the vote to alter the course of American history.

Pity no one gives a damn enough to do it, though.

Re:Wow...just wow (2, Insightful)

cromar (1103585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842707)

For some of us, who no one listens to and don't speak very well, the only course is to wait for a revolution.

I do what little I can and I vote. It hasn't been working for shit.

Re:Wow...just wow (3, Insightful)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843135)

>>>the only course is to wait for a revolution.

You'll be waiting a long time my friend. Anyone vocal enough to suggest starting a revolution becomes the enemy.... or disappears.

Re:Wow...just wow (2, Insightful)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843555)

They're sent to Siberia aren't they? Oh wait, you're talking about the USA?

Re:Wow...just wow (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843575)

yea so we jsut send them to that government sponsored resort in cuba

by the way - nice sig

Re:Wow...just wow (2, Insightful)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843715)

I forgot about that place, wow, the parallels are even more scary now between the USSR and the USSA.

Re:Wow...just wow (0, Troll)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843933)

Yeah, like when Stalin put 7 million of his citizens into death camps. That's just like the US.

Grow up you fucking drama queen.

Re:Wow...just wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19842793)

Oh sure. Vote for the lesser of two evils. And I'm not so sure there's a lesser evil any more. The Democrats sound better than Republicans on some points, but they sound exactly the same on many important ones. And then of course the Democrats are a little short on action.

Seriously, what's the point of voting for the lesser of two evils when even the lesser evil is too evil now?

Re:Wow...just wow (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19843265)

And then of course the Democrats are a little short on action.

Then you should be voting for them every time. What's better for the people, a governemnt that does a lot, or a government that does less? Even the Republicans say smaller governemnt (despite the actions of the last 3 Republican presidents being the opposite of that philosophy). So, since the Democrats are ineffective, that means they get less done. That can only be better for us.

Make government impotent, vote Democrat.

Re:Wow...just wow (-1, Troll)

kinglink (195330) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843323)

After the 2006 elections it's obvious that the Democrats are just trying to get elected to get elected. They care less for this country than the average voter. The "try anything" to get elected seemed to work, until the public realized that the Democrats weren't even going to pretend to fulfill the promises they made. Why else is Congress' approval rating lower or the same as Bush's (not something I put trust in, but everyone else believes in it)?

Let's stop pulling our puds and realize a couple things. Bush won in 2004, that means people believed in him vs. Kerry. That means more people agreed that the Iraq war had to be fought rather than pulling out our troops. Kerry was a bad candidate and flip flopped but the main issue was the war on terror, and Kerry sounded like he might have pulled us out of the war. Even if there's a 50 percent chance he'd follow through there's a chance. People instead voted for Bush.

I'm sick of polls telling me people want to pull out of Iraq, that republicans in congress want to pull out, that Bush's support is eroding. Instead look at the facts. Democrats got into office in 2006 running on a variety of campaigns, and some of those campaigns were "pro-war". The term Republicrat came up, it stood for Democrats who acted like Republicans. If the democrats are right and people want out of the war why the hell would anyone pretend to be pro-war to be elected? Why is it that in a barely majority democratic senate the democrats are unable to even pass bills against bush's ideas even if Bush is going to veto them. Why is Bush still looking good if his support is all but out from under him.

The answer is the reports are wrong.

I'm not saying this country is good but instead of this "lesser of two evils" insult we give Bush, realize that no matter what way you cut it, Bush got into office for not one but two terms. Bush was elected over Kerry by a clear margin, and to try to discredit that is falsehood. Kerry sounded good, but when the Americans spoke the best way they know how (at the actual polls) Bush won.

But go ahead and believe that Obama and Hillary are going to win because the polls are telling you, and they might go to the main election, and besure to act surprised again when the polls are proven wrong. If anything the Democratic party relies to much on polling, and not enough on understanding and giving the people what they want.

Re:Wow...just wow (1)

a-zarkon! (1030790) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843109)

How exactly are you going to find out your privacy has been abused? It's a national security issue - your file is going into a deep cellar. If you're found to be guilty, they'll read the highlights of their investigation into the record at the secret tribunal. This stuff won't be subject to FOIA.

I actually don't have anything to hide, and to be honest I don't care if they investigate the bejeebers out of me. My concern is more about having some kind of false-positive on me come out of their "Terrist-Finder-2007 SP1" software. What happens when I accidentally trip the rule that alerts on purchase of fertilizer and diesel within a 48 hour period because there's a few zeros missing in the rule definition (I buy 20lbs of fertilizer and 20 gallons of diesel). OK bad example, but do you see what I'm saying? All of a sudden I'm a person of interest and subject to all kinds of additional scrutiny and harrassment - probably from the time of the false positive til they get around to actually investigating me. Could take years. In the mean time I'm screwed every time I want to get on a plane, change a bank account, get a loan, etc.

What about other uses of the investigations beyond revenge? I bet there's commercial value to insurance companies, banks, others who want to assess risk or track down someone who is defaulting on a loan. If you're a federal employee with immunity from prosecution, and you have an offer for $10k from some company for deep background info on a few citizens....nah that could never happen.

Re:Wow...just wow (4, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842695)

Immunity is usually granted in exchange for testimony. If they're granting immunity from prosecution to someone who knew about it but did not participate, or small offenders to convict a big offender, I can live with this. They should still be fired, but I'd rather punish the big offenders than every small fish.

Watch Bush Confess To Valerie Plame Leak (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19842767)

The World's Most Dangerous Criminal [youtube.com] admits he revealed Valerie Plame as a covert agent.

Re:Wow...just wow (1)

A non-mouse Coward (1103675) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842993)

You'll need this [thenorthface.com] .

Re:Wow...just wow (4, Informative)

beheaderaswp (549877) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843411)

"If this is true, I honestly don't know what to say anymore.

I'm moving to Antarctica."

This isn't anything new.

The last time we had anything like this going on was during and after the Nixon administration. In those days it was an FBI program called COINTELPRO- which infiltrated (CIA style) and collected evidence against a semi-terrorist organization called the "Weather Underground". In fact their evidence was so tainted by rights violations, that with the exception of David Gilbert, who got a life rap for murder, they all walked.

Gilbert of course was involved in an armored car robbery in New York, and charged in New York, so even he walked in regard to the COINTELPRO charges.

The others, who used to blow things up (though they warned people about the bombs so that no one would get hurt), were summarily released one after another once the federal courts got hold of the evidence of FBI wrong doing.

In fact, the evidence that freed them, was in fact STOLEN by them out of an FBI office in Mississippi (If memory serves).

This is nothing new. And under this administration not suprising. And the courts did the right thing... evidence that is "fruit of the poisoned vine" should never be allowed.

Let's hope this latest flap is far less agregious.

Re:Wow...just wow (0)

dave562 (969951) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843709)

It is typical. You need to grant a few people immunity to get them to dish the dirt on their co-workers. As citizens, we just have to hope that the prosecuters handle the situation appropriately. They should flip the little guys to catch the big fish, as opposed to letting the big fish off in exchange for a bunch of little guys.

One thing's for sure (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19842583)

They were acting on direct orders from George Bush.

Good Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19842835)


Although, he was just delivering the original order from President-VICE Richard B. Cheney, or, at least, a President-VICE Richard B.
Cheney Lookalike.

Why was Saddam Hussein described as living in a spider-hole and Cheney's bunker is described as an undisclosed, secure location?

Re:Good Point (2, Interesting)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843199)

Why was Saddam Hussein described as living in a spider-hole and Cheney's bunker is described as an undisclosed, secure location?

Because Saddam Hussein lived in an actual dirty hole in the ground big enough for one person, and Dick Cheney was off hunting at the estates of rich buddies.

Has Cheney ever gone on a publicly-known vacation? No, he's always been at "undisclosed locations" which the American people falsely assumed were secure bunkers in our post-9/11 delusions that the administration was competent. The whole Harry Whittington shooting blew the lid off of that. The whole "undisclosed location" bit is just another manifestation of Cheney's obsession with secrecy.

It Figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19842633)

Now you know where some of the bullies who hassled people in grade school ended up working.

Pardons (4, Insightful)

athloi (1075845) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842655)

Do the little guys get pardons too? It sure would be embittering to see Scooter Libby go free when salt of the earth NWO grunts got sent to prison.

Re:Pardons (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842725)

Do the little guys get pardons too? It sure would be embittering to see Scooter Libby go free when salt of the earth NWO grunts got sent to prison.
Cue Abu Ghraib: It's just a few bad apples.
This was not official policy.
No Officers will go to jail.

Though I hope the Administration isn't dumb enough to try that line again.
Congress is much more inclined to apply its oversight powers these days.

Re:Pardons (5, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842777)

Do the little guys get pardons too? It sure would be embittering to see Scooter Libby go free when salt of the earth NWO grunts got sent to prison.

Well, there is a big difference between what Scooter Libby did and what these guys are doing. Scooter was prosecuted for perjury. His "recollection" of a conversation was different than that of the guy he spoke with. No one was in danger over what Scooter did.

What these FBI guys are doing is unforgivable. They are literally endangering the lives of all of us. By abusing the PATRIOT Act, they are risking having it taken away from those agents who would use it legally to prevent some sort of terrorist attack from happening again.

That is inexcusable... or unpardonable.

Re:Pardons (2, Insightful)

forrestt (267374) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842861)

By abusing the PATRIOT Act, they are risking having it taken away

Then I, for one, say keep abusing it!!!

Re:Pardons (3, Informative)

terrymr (316118) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842885)

I thought the claim was that scooter kept changing his testimony in order to obstruct the investigation.

Re:Pardons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19842945)

I thought the claim was that scooter kept changing his testimony in order to obstruct the investigation.

Thats what people were saying last week, this week it's something else.

Re:Pardons (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843725)

for once my sig applys....

Re:Pardons (2, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843395)

Here is the quote from the actual indictment: [cnn.net]

When LIBBY spoke with Tim Russert of NBC News, on or about July 10,
i. Russert asked LIBBY if LIBBY knew that Wilson's wife worked for
the CIA, and told LIBBY that all the reporters knew it; and
ii. At the time of this conversation, LIBBY was surprised to hear that
Wilson's wife worked for the CIA;
According to Russert:

i. Russert did not ask LIBBY if LIBBY knew that Wilson's wife
worked for the CIA, nor did he tell LIBBY that all the reporters knew
it; and
ii. At the time of this conversation, LIBBY was well aware that
Wilson's wife worked at the CIA; in fact, LIBBY had participated in
multiple prior conversations concerning this topic, including on the
following occasions:...
Now it seems to me that this indictment assumes that it was Scooter who leaked the name. We now know that it was Armitage, who was never charged.

What these FBI guys are doing is unforgivable. (5, Insightful)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843021)

They are literally endangering the lives of all of us. By abusing the PATRIOT Act, they are risking having it taken away from those agents who would use it legally to prevent some sort of terrorist attack from happening again.

I hope it, the PATRIOT Act, is gotten rid of. It's not needed. And I was against it to begin with as well as against renewing it. They already had all the power needed to reduce the risk of terrorist attackes. Yes, I said "reduce the risk", as the risk can't be eliminated even in a police state run by a military dictator.

Falcon

Re:What these FBI guys are doing is unforgivable. (1)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843157)

Someone please respond to this post with a verifiable example of a terrorist action that was stopped by using provisions of the Patriot act. So far I have only seen it being used to lock up Americans doing stuff totally unrelated to terrorist activities and infringe on peoples privacy and liberty.

thwarted terrorist attacks (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843233)

Someone please respond to this post with a verifiable example of a terrorist action that was stopped by using provisions of the Patriot act. So far I have only seen it being used to lock up Americans doing stuff totally unrelated to terrorist activities and infringe on peoples privacy and liberty.

You'll never hear the FBI, or this admin, give a single example of a terrorist attcks that was thwarted by intel that could only of been gotten by the PATROIT Act. The Act was not needed!

Falcon

Re:What these FBI guys are doing is unforgivable. (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843605)

> Someone please respond to this post with a verifiable
> example of a terrorist action that was stopped by using
> provisions of the Patriot act.

Wait about 50 years. It took that long for the Venona Intercepts to be declassified, so that we now know that the Rosenbergs WERE guilty (Ethel less so), Alger Hiss WAS guilty, and Joe McCarthy might very well have had his evidence about the State Dept being filled with Soviet agents, but he could never reveal it (or the CIA people who originally leaked it to him would have had to kill him).

It took even longer for the British to admit to having helped us (the USA) intercept and decode the Zimmerman Telegram that was the proximate cause for our entry into WWI.

Re:What these FBI guys are doing is unforgivable. (4, Interesting)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843771)

Someone please respond to this post with a verifiable example of a terrorist action that was stopped by using provisions of the Patriot act. So far I have only seen it being used to lock up Americans doing stuff totally unrelated to terrorist activities and infringe on peoples privacy and liberty.
I wouldn't hold your breath. Not because its not possible that the PATRIOT Act hasn't been used to do what it was sold to do but simply because anyone who's in the know isn't likely to publicly publish anything about it. Consider that this is all about Intelligence and much of the handling of that involves "need to know" practices. Even vague details about what was collected or how it was collected can betray far too much information.

I don't doubt someone, somewhere out there knows how the PATRIOT Act has been used to combat terrorism. But that misses the point. The real issue here is one of abuse or, at the very least, risk of abuse.

If we could trust that power wouldn't be abused, we wouldn't have to worry about civil rights. We could allow those entrusted with our welfare complete power, safe in the knowledge that their actions weren't being guided by personal gain or bias. We'd know that they carefully considered their actions before taking them. And we'd be safer for it.

The reality is that people are human - even those who are entrusted with the duty to safeguard us all. As such, they are prone to all the bias and temptations people are always confronted with. Our laws, complete with checks and balances, are there to not only safeguard the population but to give pause to those who are entrusted with authority and take action against those who abuse that authority (or prove to be otherwise unworthy).

In short, the issue with the PATRIOT Act isn't whether it's effective against terrorists. It's a matter of whether it has the right checks-and-balance to ensure that it is both effective as well as resistant to abuse. History is proving abuse is widespread. And critics already point out that much of the power involved in the Act already existed... we've just stripped away the checks that are designed to curtail abuse. Odd, that.

Re:What these FBI guys are doing is unforgivable. (2, Funny)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843837)

What, do you expect the government to release a statement saying "Check it out guys, we stopped some terrorists who were trying to blow up three major metropolitan areas with nukes Russia lost track of back in '82... no need to panic, or grab all your guns and head for the hills, or start lynching brown people, kthxbye!"

Re:What these FBI guys are doing is unforgivable. (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843937)

I hope it, the PATRIOT Act, is gotten rid of. It's not needed. And I was against it to begin with as well as against renewing it. They already had all the power needed to reduce the risk of terrorist attackes. Yes, I said "reduce the risk", as the risk can't be eliminated even in a police state run by a military dictator.

I've met a couple people in the FBI and this is a paraphrase of what they've told me about 9-11.

We knew something was coming. We didn't know what, how, where or even when. We could tell because of an increase in chatter, which we couldn't listen to, and activities that we couldn't watch. For example, we would get a tip that there would be a meeting of a terrorist cell at this location at this time. That tip would not be enough for us to get a warrant or it would not give us enough time to conduct surveillance. It was so bad that if a known terrorist came into a restaurant where I was eating and sat at the table next to me, I would have to leave because I would not have a warrant to listen in.
So yeah, we knew something was coming, but there was not a damn thing we could do about it.
And that is what the PATRIOT Act is supposed to fix. According to those I spoke with, they did not have the resources they needed to conduct effective anti-terror operations.

Trust me, the FBI does not want to spy on you if you are not planning a terrorist act. It is a complete waste of resources that are stretched thin already. They want to concentrate their efforts on stopping the next 9-11 and let you be. Of course, I'm speaking of the anti-terror group. I don't know what the mail fraud department wants to do, but then again, the PATRIOT Act does not apply to them unless terrorist start communicating via USPS.

Re:Pardons (1)

crotherm (160925) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843061)

No one was in danger over what Scooter did.
What he covered up was far more dangerous than this abuse by the FBI, but by your .sig I bet you would not think so.

What these FBI guys are doing is unforgivable. They are literally endangering the lives of all of us.
ROTFLMAO.... So tell me, what does your gut tell you about the impending terrorist attack?

Best. Troll. Ever. (0, Troll)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843127)

By abusing the PATRIOT Act, they are risking having it taken away from those agents who would use it legally to prevent some sort of terrorist attack from happening again.

That is inexcusable... or unpardonable.


You've been on a roll recently. I give it two thumbs up!
(Nice nick, BTW.)

Re:Pardons (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843313)

The real difference in what Scooter did and these guys is that these guys can't dish any dirt on the actual heads of Administration, where Scooter was in a position to leave his bosses twisting in the winds.

Re:Pardons (2, Interesting)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843497)

I'm sorry but what scooter fucking libby did was to 'out' a CIA field agent on behalf of dick 'the dickhead' cheney. He then lied about it and tried to obstruct the investigation.

Believe it or not, when you 'out' a CIA agent, you could be putting in danger the lives of many potential assets as well as any other agents who have in any way interacted with the one you outed. And then the chain continues, if one of those agents is discovered in connection with her, all of their assets and connections are also in danger of death.

There are pretty serious consequences to 'outing' a CIA agent, even if the agent you out is not of some huge importance. What he did was very illegal, immoral and purely an asshole thing to do to get back at someone 'the dickhead' was pissed off at. People might have died because of it.

Imagine if you decided to do something that risked the lives of our heroes purely because you were annoyed at someone politically... I guess it's also typical of this administration.

Re:Pardons (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843623)

If Scooter Libby "outed a CIA field agent" why wasn't he, or anyone else, charged for it? Valerie Plame was not a covert agent. Just because people say something over and over again, that doesn't make it true.

Re:Pardons (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843687)

No, it was Richard Armitage who "outed" a non-field agent (for the previous 5 or so years).

Fitzgerald found that out several days before he first talked to Libby; since his brief was to find out who leaked, and was it on purpose or just an accident, and he knew the answers to both, his investigation should have closed down then, and he should have denounced Armitage. Instead, Armitage stayed under cover, and Fitzgerald had fun investigating anyone else that he could, rather like the FBI agents under investigation.

Re:Pardons (1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843817)

Well, there is a big difference between what Scooter Libby did and what these guys are doing. Scooter was prosecuted for perjury. His "recollection" of a conversation was different than that of the guy he spoke with. No one was in danger over what Scooter did.

What these FBI guys are doing is unforgivable. They are literally endangering the lives of all of us. By abusing the PATRIOT Act, they are risking having it taken away from those agents who would use it legally to prevent some sort of terrorist attack from happening again.

That is inexcusable... or unpardonable.

It may be unpardonable but maybe it will be commutable.

I am glad... (2, Insightful)

cromar (1103585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842661)

I am glad some small parts of our oppressive nanny state are breaking, at least. I hope it not too little, too late.

I'm so sick of this shit.

Look higher! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19842663)

If a lot of people engage in the same bad behavior, either it's endorsed or they're terribly stupid.

The article summary, edited (again) by me (1)

Evanisincontrol (830057) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842693)

"According to an article at Wired.com, several FBI agents are under investigation for illegally acquiring information [on] American citizens. Overzealous agents used 'misleading emergency letters' [to] obtain phone records of thousands of Americans. This marks the first time government officers have been prosecuted for misuse of the Patriot Act. From the article: 'Unit employees, who are not authorized to request records in investigations, sent form letters to telephone companies to acquire detailed billing information on specific phone numbers by falsely promising that subpoenas were already in the works. According to a third source, FBI officials also said at the meeting that some bureau employees have already been granted immunity from prosecution in the investigation. The third source, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, did not recall, however, that FBI officials described the investigation as "criminal."'"

Not counting the part that was copied and pasted directly from the article, this summary only has three sentences. Two of them had errors. Is there an editor in the house?

Re:The article summary, edited (again) by me (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842923)

> Is there an editor in the house?

No. HTH.

Re:The article summary, edited (again) by me (1)

DevanJedi (892762) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843031)

Don't blame me; that wasn't the wording I used in my original submission>/a>! [scienceaddiction.com]

What we'll never know.. (4, Insightful)

foodnugget (663749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842699)

This is my main argument against the whole "we know what we're doing with this power" argument being put forward.

We, as citizens, have no idea why these records were sought, and what was done with them. Were they altered? Were the requests ultimately put to use that saved lives or harmed them? How many made it through without being caught? How will we ever know for sure?

The example for restricting power I like to put forward for arguments sake:
Lets say you're, say, 35 years old, recently divorced, ready to move on and find yourself a new girl. Looking around, you meet someone in a bar, she's recently divorced too. Things are going well for the two of you, when all of a sudden, some charges are brought up on you.
Turns out, her former husband is employed at [pick your favorite cloak and dagger agency], and not happy about his wife dating again.

Are these charges real? are they made up?

Of course, I'm not proposing that this searching power will only be used for such purposes, or that fraudulent data could be put in, but where is the recourse for when some unhinged person attempts to abuse their position?

Similarly, lets say you're in a car accident with the son/daughter of a similarly employed person. They have unknown, potentially damaging power to affect your life and cause you serious trouble in an effort to change the outcome of the situation/extract revenge.

This kind of unchecked power *will* be abused. BOFHs aren't just in server rooms, they're in every employment position imaginable, and there is a nonzero percentage of them who will abuse their position for any reason. I've only given two, I'm certain you can think of many, many more!

Re:What we'll never know.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19842789)

So the trick being not to bugger a spook's wife.

Justice systems are inherently flawed by the enforcers, of course. But unless you can propose a method that involves a low corruption rate (maybe somewhere in the genome is the good cop marker?) things like these are to be expected.

Re:What we'll never know.. (1)

foodnugget (663749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842865)

Certainly they're expected. I was kind of hoping for a system that is a little more open than the one we have. "Here's the data on this alleged criminal. Here's how we got it. Here's when we got it. Here's how we got it (with issues to protect the undercover). Here's 20 unrelated people who can confirm it. This is, AFAIK, how it was supposed to work. Jury of ones' peers? Now, all you ever hear about are stories where volumes of evidence and certain words are disallowed for one reason or another, and rarely does it seem that the disallowing works in the favor of the person whose life is about to be ruined.

Re:What we'll never know.. (4, Interesting)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843643)

Unfortunately, it became legal precedent in the early, formative years of the USA (and probably before) to "undo" the proceedings against a criminal for which the evidence against him was acquired illegally. This is due to a lack of logical understanding and separation of duties. Now we have an entire legal culture built around loopholes and exploitation thereof. Consider a scenario in two different ways:

A murder is discovered, and a suspect is charged. The police illegally search the suspect to find a "smoking gun" piece of evidence. There's no question in anyone's mind that this person is the murderer. The person even admits that they did it.

Scenario #1 - "Reality": The weasel/lawyer defending the suspect gets the case thrown out because the police conducted their search illegally. All evidence against the murderer already presented in this case is considered inadmissable because it may have been affected by the illegal search. The killer goes free.

Scenario #2 - "The Right Way": The "tainted evidence" defense is pure crap and doesn't work. Heck, it's not even attempted. The killer gets what's coming to him. BUT... the police still carried out that illegal search. Bring charges against the officers responsible for the illegal search. Dismiss them (fire them) and fine them, then bar them from ever serving as a police officer ever again. In fact, disallow them from being a security guard, private detective, or even a toll booth operator. They should never be in a position of responsibility for the physical safety or authority to grant access to property in the primary responsibilities of their job ever again. This way, you get a system that properly punishes crime, while deterring counter-criminal-crime in the process.

Bottom line: these FBI agents are criminals and should be prosecuted as such.

Re:What we'll never know.. (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843803)

Scenario #2 is some of the most blindingly obviously insightful ways of how things should work in a just world that I have read in quite some time. It's so obvious that it seems insane that Scenario #1 is the way that things really happen.

Re:What we'll never know.. (1)

fohat (168135) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842807)

I swear man I didn't know she was your daughter!

Re:What we'll never know.. (1)

blhack (921171) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843645)

Wasn't this a scene in hackers, and the plot of a few billion dollars worth of summer blockbusters?

Re:What we'll never know.. (4, Interesting)

grcumb (781340) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843655)

Lets say you're, say, 35 years old, recently divorced, ready to move on and find yourself a new girl. Looking around, you meet someone in a bar, she's recently divorced too. Things are going well for the two of you, when all of a sudden, some charges are brought up on you. Turns out, her former husband is employed at [pick your favorite cloak and dagger agency], and not happy about his wife dating again.

Are these charges real? are they made up?

Congratulations! You just described The Trial [wikipedia.org] , by Franz Kafka. The story was written in Czechoslovakia, just prior to the rise of Fascism in Europe, but I'm sure that the purest coincidence.

don't get too excited (3, Insightful)

mytrip (940886) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842703)

There is no chance of anyone getting more than a slap on the wrist over this. The government hasnt let the law gets in its way yet.

Re:don't get too excited (1)

WindowlessView (703773) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843377)

There is no chance of anyone getting more than a slap on the wrist over this

When it comes to the Bush Administration nothing is a coincidence.

This is a group that manages one thing well - news. How convenient that this comes out when the congress, in particular Senators Leahy and Spector and the Judicial Committee, are actively looking into amending the Patriot Act, etc. This will be an Abu Ghraib type operation where a few nobodies get their asses kicked and the higher ups will pretend to be SHOCKED that civil abuses were committed. "But don't worry, we're on top of it now and no need for any changes or further oversight. We are self-policing. Really."

To be expected (1)

jkiol (1050424) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842717)

But the good side of it is the glimmer of hope that they will be held accountable. Maybe I'm day-dreaming.

Day Dream... (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842899)

The FBI is investigating activities senior officials knew were occurring for years. The only reason they are investigating is because enough people turned whistle blower that Congress is on the verge of launching their own investigation. By starting their own internal investigation, they can use the Neo-Con party line when questioned by Congress: "Sir, I am not at liberty to discuss the matters of an on going investigation."

In the end, the election year will distract Congress, the FBI will conclude their investigation, give out a few wrist slaps, and the new oversight committee will require more signatures on things.

The truly scary part though, is that the investigation is not looking at the legality of the data collection, but at the process that was followed to collect the data. Had Gonzo sat down and signed all of those subpoenas, everyone would be in the clear and the FBI would still be kicking out requests in droves.

-Rick

Re:To be expected (1)

Sczi (1030288) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842983)

No, it's not just you. I'm hopeful too on this one. My buddy at work and I were talking about the offense itself earlier, so I just told him that some FBI were maybe going to be charged for it, and he just scoffed and mumbled, but I am still cautiously optimistic. We have such a great system here, in theory. I have to believe that it's just a matter of time before the pendulum swings the other way, and I keep hoping for the best (and a chance to vote).

The sickening part is that there is the FISA court where the FBI can go, basically 24/7, and they can get a warrant for damn near anything that sounds remotely reasonable. The FISA court is so lenient, they (fbi or whoever) can even go ahead with their search and then get the warrant retroactively. But no, that's not good enough. They can't even be bothered to consider getting a warrant, they just fill out some papers, type up a letter, and mail it to the phone company. Then the phone company has to jump through hoops and do the searcher's dirty work. But even that is too inconvenient, because now we find out they haven't even been filling out the paperwork. So they can basically get anything they want, on a whim.

Give an inch, take a mile, anyone? These civil liberty violations are clearly institutional at this point.

Re:To be expected (1)

Darby (84953) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843701)

Maybe I'm day-dreaming.

You are, but enjoy it while you can ;-)

not yet prosecuted! (2, Insightful)

c_jonescc (528041) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842727)

The abstract claims that this is the first prosecution of Patriot Act abuse, however, the article claims only that this is an investigation that has the POSSIBILITY to lead to the first prosecution.

And looking at prosecutions of government abuse under the current admin, I wouldn't exactly count on it happening.

So let me get this straight... (2, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842763)

Someone said that they think a few people who were probably working for the FBI may have done something that could have been construed as illegal, and that there may, or may not be an investigation, and that if there were an investigation it could possibly be of a criminal investigation nature, all of which may be rendered moot because someone thought they heard someone else say that the people that someone thought might have committed a crime may have already been granted immunity?

I'm all for the investigation of the allegations, removal of the perpetrators from the FBI, as well as imprisonment for any of them that are convicted of committed criminal offenses. But how about we wait 15 minutes before printing this story and figure out what the hell is actually going on first?!?

-Rick

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843303)

But how about we wait 15 minutes ...

When users expect pages to load within 4sec? This would be a cycle of 165pages - you must be a time traveller!

CC.

quick poll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19842853)

You can have mouthsecks or boobsecks with a. With b you get poopsecks and regularsecks, and an ugly mouth.

choose

Press core, grow a pair (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842859)

The third source, who also spoke on condition of anonymity,

Sure would be nice if the US Press Core grew a pair. Everywhere else in the world, officials put their name to their comments because the press won't print comments without any name; there's no accountability, so people have no incentive to tell the truth, so there's no point in printing the comments. I'm so fed up with US politicians and officials covering their asses with "anonymous" comments, and the press core lapping it up.

For chrissakes, some of these people are even telling the press exactly how to "anonymously" describe them: Cheney, for example, always demands to be quoted as "a senior Bush administration official." [npr.org]

Re:Press core, grow a pair (1)

A non-mouse Coward (1103675) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843049)

some of these people are even telling the press exactly how to "anonymously" describe them: Cheney, for example, always demands to be quoted as "a senior Bush administration official." [npr.org]
We could mod this funny only if it weren't true. Mod sad???

anonymous sources (2, Insightful)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843119)

I'm so fed up with US politicians and officials covering their asses with "anonymous" comments, and the press core lapping it up.

So, you want to get rid of anonymous sources then? Perhaps you didn't live through Watergate [wikipedia.org] which eventually led to Nixon's impeachment. "Follow the money" said one source to a newspaper reporter.

Falcon

Re:anonymous sources (1)

Darby (84953) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843785)

Perhaps you didn't live through Watergate which eventually led to Nixon's impeachment.

Wow, that's news to me.
When was Nixon impeached exactly?

Re:Press core [sic], grow a pair (1)

volpe (58112) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843925)

Cheney, for example, always demands to be quoted as "a senior Bush administration official."

Wait, doesn't that, by his own admission, make him part of the executive branch?

(BTW, it's "corps")

Prediction. (4, Insightful)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842871)

Wow, if only there was some way we could have predicted this?

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
  - Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Re:Prediction. (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843289)

I never saw it coming. Not the actual crimes mind you, but the pre-2008 accountability.
Seeing the crimes coming was just a matter of knowing history and applying logic.

Even so, I should've seen the weak accountability coming. Immunity to prosecution? What a gyp. Well, I'd like say that maybe we'll see some Supreme Court action as a result of the prosecution of this, but I don't hold high hopes for that working out well after last month's run of rulings.

Another good saying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19843455)

Often, I wonder if being able to know the future would actually help me any. After all, there's another saying:

Those who foresee misfortune suffer it twice.

Politics (4, Insightful)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842875)

Please Please Please, let one of the FBI agents be working on request of the whitehouse staff.

I'd hate to see it be just average schmoes just stalking their ex-girl/boy friends.

Also, subpoenas first you lame ass telcos, checks and balances....

Bush Fatigue (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842877)

I'm getting tired of seeing so many stories about the illegal activities of the Bush Administration here at Slashdot.

But not nearly as tired as I am of having a president and vice president who have corrupted the entire structure of the Executive Branch and who have weakened the foundation of our Nation.

To those of you who think these stories don't belong at a site that's for "News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters", I'd say that while the illegality and corruption of the Bush Administration, and their poisonous use of technology to take away our rights and consolidate power is no longer "news", it certainly qualifies as "stuff that matters".

I invite any of you who don't think that both Bush and Cheney should be removed from office to please explain. Today, I learned from the Wall Street Journal that there are still 26% of the population (Harris Poll) who support the President. I really need to know why. I have enough faith in the fairness and decency of the American people that it surprises me that Bush's support is still in double digits.

Re:Bush Fatigue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19843073)

that 26% would support the devil himself if he was (or pretended to be):

1. Christian (ironic isn't it?)
2. Republican

Re:Bush Fatigue (5, Insightful)

Cheesey (70139) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843651)

That 26% would support the devil himself if he was (or pretended to be):

1. Christian (ironic isn't it?)
2. Republican


"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." - Sinclair Lewis, 1935

I must admit I was initially unsure about voting for Adolf Hitler, but when I heard about his sensible pro-life stance and opposition to non-Christians, I was all for him. I mean, those are the issues that really matter, right? His foreign policy decisions have also been first rate. I think the invasion of France has been a damn good idea, and we'll definitely defeat the insurgents in the next few months. And with their new powers, the Gestapo have been doing a fine job of eradicating the terrorist threat in the Fatherland. I often see them making arrests, which just goes to show how lucky we are to have them - our enemies are everywhere. I'm sure that the stories of human rights abuses in internment camps like Auschwitz are just liberal lies. So that's why I support our President. He's a fine Christian man, and I will not even listen to anyone who doesn't think so.

Re:Bush Fatigue (2)

Sczi (1030288) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843093)

Why 26% like him: he's protecting us from terrorists, and his economic policies are good for the country.

Or that's the theory.. I'm not sure I buy it. But I'm sure you already know these arguments. In fact, I suspect you were waiting in anticipation for the first sentence, and if it weren't for this sentence, you'd be getting ready to copy and pasting your retorts right now.

Dig it: you and I probably agree, but... I dunno, some people just really legitimately feel that way. A buddy described it very well the other day after we watched Transformers. He said meeting a Bushbot is like talking to a normal person, they seem sane, etc, and then they start spouting off the Bush line like they honestly believe it, and he just gazes in horror as if they had ripped away their flesh to expose a robot skeleton. Heh, at the time, it was a very poignant image.

Re:Bush Fatigue (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843721)

he's protecting us from terrorists, and his economic policies are good for the country.
Which country?

Re:Bush Fatigue (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843177)

They support Bush because they believe that either what he's doing is being done for a worthwhile goal or because they believe he's a good person.
The first reason is a restatement of the end justifying the means: if they believed that it was necessary to light babies on fire to keep America safe, they'd approve of him lighting babies on fire.
The second is simply admiration/fanboyism.
Both blind people to the consequences of actions, and both are (part of ) the reason that laws, and following the written laws, is the basis for civilization.

Re:Bush Fatigue (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843217)

Your faith is based on the assumption that the majority of people are intellectually honest enough to change their opinion in the face of new evidence.

The bulk of those who are still solid bushies are living in a persistent fantasy world. They think the war in Iraq will be "won"...whatever the hell that means, since we still don't seem to have a defined goal other than it going away. They think we went there in the first place for the "right reasons." They think the reason the terrists haven't blown up the Sears tower is because we're "fighting them over there" and not just because terrorists as a whole tend not to be all that successful.

I don't think anything would convince them they're wrong. I mean literally anything; if he was caught on tape having sex with an underage boy, they'd say it was a liberal framejob. There is practically nothing they won't believe is someone else's fault. They're emotionally wedded to their position. If things were reversed, we'd see a similar number of liberal weenies blaming it all on the conservatives.

It's sad to say, but there just aren't a lot of free-thinkers in the world. It just shows up more here because things have gotten so polarized.

Re:Bush Fatigue (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843481)

But not nearly as tired as I am of having a president and vice president who have corrupted the entire structure of the Executive Branch and who have weakened the foundation of our Nation.

Don't you keep up with the news? The vice-president isn't a member of the Executive Branch.

Re:Bush Fatigue (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843829)

It comes down to this, most of the stories turn out to be like Dan Rather's Texas Air National Guard story, "false, but accurate".

Demographics (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842881)

According to a third source, FBI officials also said at the meeting that some bureau employees have already been granted immunity from prosecution in the investigation.
And in the end, they'll all get immunity for testifying against each other. At which point, the charges will be dropped because there aren't any defendants left. Of course, the records will be sealed for national security so we'll never know.

The third source, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, did not recall, however, that FBI officials described the investigation as "criminal."'"
Oops! Mentioning that is itself a violation of the (secret) secrecy clauses in the Patriot Act. We'll never hear from that source again.

"Employees"? (2, Insightful)

A non-mouse Coward (1103675) | more than 7 years ago | (#19842967)

Slashdot editors make it look like the administrative assistants, custodians, and assembly line workers are evil or something. Call it like it is: try "agents".

Re:"Employees"? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843357)

Slashdot editors make it look like the administrative assistants, custodians, and assembly line workers are evil or something.


Um, the "employees" bit is a direct quote from TFA, so if someone is distorting something by calling them that, its not "Slashdot editors".

Call it like it is: try "agents".


The involved employees in the part quoted were apparently from an analytical support unit that did not have the authorized power to conduct its own investigations; it is not at all clear to me that "agents" is a proper description of the employees involved.

"slashdotliberalwhining" tag? WTF??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19843051)

That's the stupidest fucking tag I've heard of since I've been at Microsoft!

The Song Remains the Same (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843059)

...granted immunity from prosecution
...did not recall
...criminal

*Sigh* Same old, same old for the US government.

Also Curious.. (1)

AdamBot (1124511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843143)

why his approval ratings remain so high at 26%. Possibly they're giving free NRA memberships with the Pat Robertson protein shakes now...

Re:Also Curious.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19843243)

Maybe Diebold is collecting the statistics...?

"Slashdot liberal whining"? (5, Insightful)

TomorrowPlusX (571956) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843169)

One of the tags for this article is "slashdotliberalwhining".

Just seeing that broke my heart, makes me want to cry. What have we come to when holding our officials responsible for their actions accounts to "liberal whining"?

I know we'll never hold Bush accountable, nor Cheney nor any of the real players in this situation. But still, America is supposed to be free, and part of that is punishing police, soldiers, fbi agents, or even presidents when they break the law. The idea that somehow they are above the law, the very *idea* that they are above the law kind of obviates the whole fucking spirit of freedom and why America was founded.

Let me say this exactly once: These FBI agents are *citizens*, and so are soliders, and so are Bush and Cheney. They are not above the law.

I'm not saying this as a liberal ( though I am one ) nor as a libertarian ( though I also sort of am one ) but as a human being, and as an american. A deeply frightened and ashamed-for-my-countrymen american.

Re:"Slashdot liberal whining"? (0, Troll)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843423)

They are also not below the law. The "liberal whining" is the part where you are assuming guilt without facts or convictions. Just like the other 10 stories just like it in the news today.

Re:"Slashdot liberal whining"? (1)

TomorrowPlusX (571956) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843527)

At issue here are people -- I assume like yourself given your tone -- who believe that the government can be trusted to make the investigation and everything will be OK, so don't worry yer pretty little heads about it.

The government can only be trusted to do the right thing when we -- the citizens -- are able to watch the process.

See, It Works (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843369)

We have this thing in the US called the "legal system". Folks are actually innocent till proven guilty. As opposed to al you you lynch mobbers ready to hang anyone who happens to not subscribe you your ideas or ideals.

Re:See, It Works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19843621)

Folks are actually innocent till proven guilty.

For all your blabbering about "liberal" whining over that, you might want to get your reality check from DeLay being clobbered by the Republicans' own guilty until proven innocent ethics rules. Also try getting off any of the various lists the Republicans created to label you without any due process.

Carry on with your handwaving.

Unit employees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19843413)

If they were UNIT employees, they were probably protecting us from the CyberMen or the Daleks, so I would excuse the perceived transgressions. It's just terrible that they're taking the fall and can't even speak about what they were *really* up to!

Equal Justice?... yes try not to choke on that (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19843691)

What I want to know is when do we get to spend $70 million in taxpayer dollars and sick a Ken Starr-like special investigator on the current administration? Somehow 70m spent on finding out if our president lied about spooging on an interns dress seems kinda foolish and contrite compared to the antics of this current crop of criminals.(oops I meant politicians) Although, I wish Bill had thought of executive privilege when it came to his admin being forced to testify. Seems to work well for Bush/Cheney & Co.

anarsist (1)

anarsist (1126773) | more than 7 years ago | (#19843891)

"FBI officials also said at the meeting that some bureau employees have already been granted immunity from prosecution in the investigation." i don't believe this!!!.. :S
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