FBI Admits It's Not Really About Law Enforcement Any More; Ignores Lots Of Crimes To Focus On Creating Fake Terror Plots

from the how-is-that-making-us-safer? dept

A couple years ago, it was revealed that the FBI noted in one of its "counterterrorism training manuals" that FBI agents could "bend or suspend the law and impinge upon the freedoms of others," which seemed kind of odd for a government agency who claimed its "primary function" was "law enforcement." You'd think that playing by the rules would be kind of important. However, as John Hudson at Foreign Policy has noted, at some point last summer, the FBI quietly changed its fact sheet, so that it no longer says that "law enforcement" is its primary function, replacing it with "national security."
Of course, I thought we already had a "national security" agency -- known as the "National Security Agency." Of course, while this may seem like a minor change, as the article notes, it is the reality behind the scenes. The FBI massively beefed up resources focused on "counterterrorism" and... then let all sorts of other crimes slide. Including crimes much more likely to impact Americans, like financial/white collar fraud.

Between 2001 and 2009, the FBI doubled the amount of agents dedicated to counterterrorism, according to a 2010 Inspector's General report. That period coincided with a steady decline in the overall number of criminal cases investigated nationally and a steep decline in the number of white-collar crime investigations.

"Violent crime, property crime and white-collar crime: All those things had reductions in the number of people available to investigate them," former FBI agent Brad Garrett told Foreign Policy. "Are there cases they missed? Probably."

The article correctly notes that this has had a big impact:
The reductions in white-collar crime investigations became obvious. Back in 2000, the FBI sent prosecutors 10,000 cases. That fell to a paltry 3,500 cases by 2005. "Had the FBI continued investigating financial crimes at the same rate as it had before the terror attacks, about 2,000 more white-collar criminals would be behind bars," the report concluded. As a result, the agency fielded criticism for failing to crack down on financial crimes ahead of the Great Recession and losing sight of real-estate fraud ahead of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.
The article accurately notes how the FBI has basically started ignoring a tremendous amount of financial/white collar crime, but unfortunately never bothers to do the flipside: to look at whether or not the FBI has been even remotely effective in the whole "national security" aspect that is now its "primary function." Because, from the evidence we've seen, it seems like a disaster. Rather than tracking down and capturing actual terrorists (remember how the FBI knew all about the Boston bombers, but did nothing about them?), it seems like the FBI has been coming up with ways to keep itself busy that have nothing to do with really protecting national security.

So... what has the FBI been doing? Well, every time we hear anything about the FBI and counterterrorism, it seems to be a case where the FBI has been spending a ton of resources to concoct completely made up terrorism plots, duping some hapless, totally unconnected person into taking part in this "plot" then arresting him with big bogus headlines about how they "stopped" a terrorist plot that wouldn't have even existed if the FBI hadn't set it up in the first place. And this is not something that the FBI has just done a couple times. It's happened over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. And those are just the stories that we wrote about that I can find in a quick search. I'm pretty sure there are a bunch more stories that we wrote about, let alone that have happened.

All of these efforts to stop their own damn "plots" screams of an agency that feels it needs to "do something" when there's really nothing to be done. Thousands of agents were reassigned from stopping real criminals to "counterterrorism" and when they found there were basically no terrorists around, they just started making their own in order to feel like they were doing something... and to have headlines to appease people upstairs. The government seems to have gone collectively insane when it comes to anything related to "terrorism."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 11:13am

    Under What Program

    Anyone who believes bullet #2 has not been paying attention to the new meaning of words from our government agencies.

    Let's see how that really reads...

    "We just have a file on everyone IN the united states - citizen or not"

    "We just happen to have 350 million files, which just happens to match the number of people in the US".

    Or the other game:

    First, define "keep". Second, define "file"

    "we don't have a FILE on them, just a lot of records about them".

    Hey.. I'm getting pretty good at this game... maybe they will call me and offer me a job - after all, they and/or the NSA have my contact information...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 11:21am

    It's kinda true.

    They can say that because all the data is with the NSA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 11:22am

    What the hell is the purpose of DHS then? ATF? And the NSA (National Security Agency - duh)?

     

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  4.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 11:24am

    But bringing actual criminals to justice is so gosh darn hard. Can't we just agree that it's easier for the FBI to make up its own "crimes" and then stop those "crimes"?! Yeah, I think we can.

     

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  5.  
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    voiceover (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 11:34am

    As a result, the agency fielded criticism for failing to crack down on financial crimes ahead of the Great Recession and losing sight of real-estate fraud ahead of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.

    Yeah, but that white-collar stuff ain't sexy. Kinda boring in fact. Makes my head hurt just thinking about it. Back to bed.

    (the success of American Hustle gives lie to that tho'. Maybe we just need a few more movies with Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams and the FBI might rediscover an interest?)

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 11:38am

    FBI's logic

    So in other words.

    FBI: White collar crimes, what white collar crimes? They're too hard to find because they don't exist.

    *Fat wall street banker runs by behind the FBI, carrying large bags of money*

    Banker: Woohoo! I'm rich for giving out giant toxic loans to fools who I knew would never pay them back, and then I lied to other buyers and sold the toxic loans at a huge profit, let them take all the loss! And I don't care that people like me are going to cause a great recession and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of economic damage!

    FBI: And anyway, we'd rather put more cooks in the kitchen of national security. Because you know that old saying, 'you can never have too many cooks in the kitchen'.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 11:45am

    Re: Under What Program

    Do you have experience in the movie business? It appears that they are in need of writers with special expertise in "plot development."

     

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  8.  
    icon
    Baldaur Regis (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 11:53am

    Before: Follow the money to catch the crooks.

    After: Follow the money to catch the gravy train.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 11:53am

    So that's why...

    The financial crisis has had zero people go to jail.

    Seriously, FBI, I know you can read this, get people to investigate that. There is ZERO chance that the banks didn't commit crime. In fact, I can point out that they committed theft and fraud with ease.

    You can't crash the economies of Western Europe and North America and not do something illegal in the process.

     

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  10.  
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    mattshow (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 11:56am

    Most tragically of all, the number of agents assigned to investigate files with a paranormal or supernatural element to them has fallen from 2 to 0 since 2008.

     

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  11.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 11:58am

    The FBI's counterterrorism focus didn't affect everything

    I'm sure the FBI's new focus on counterterrorism didn't affect their investigation of alleged copyright infringement.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 12:01pm

    Re: FBI's logic

    You need to get your facts straight...not all bankers are fat and they have people who carry their bags of money for them.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 12:04pm

    Warnings

    You mean the FBI warnings at the beginning of a movie are not true?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 12:11pm

    Good Times

    In the not too distant future white collar criminals will look back at their lucrative careers and think of these times as the "Golden Years".

     

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  15.  
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    sorrykb (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Warnings

    Anonymous Coward wrote
    You mean the FBI warnings at the beginning of a movie are not true?

    No, they're true, because Piracy = Terrorism.
    Or didn't you get that memo?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 12:14pm

    Re:

    Technically, the NSA collects the stuff and when it finds something interesting it passes it off to the FBI if it's a domestic matter or the CIA if it's a foreign one to look into. The ATF's basic job is that of a tax collector specifically tailored to those taxes created at the end of prohibition including the NFA of 1934 and various other taxes that have been added since then to alcohol, tobacco and firearms. DHS is a "do something" agency created domestically as a knee jerk reaction to 9-11.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re: FBI's logic

    And they have enough money to sue you for defamation you stereotyping bigot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: Warnings

    THAT kind of piracy isn't, but it supports it.

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2008/03/us-attorney-general-piracy-funds-terror/

    The then USAG said it so it MUST be true. Right?

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    KoD, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 12:48pm

    Why wouldn't the FBI want a piece of that pie? Solving crimes and capturing criminals is not nearly as fun as thwarting contrived plots and bagging terrorists.

    Coming soon...
    Copyright infringement added to list of terroristic activities (to make sure the FBI keeps its largest customer).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Under What Program

    There are probably a few infants who haven't had files started yet, so the statement is true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Ed Allen, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 1:00pm

    Re: FBI's logic

    I still think that uttering "national security" should be immediate grounds for a treason investigation. No executions but getting barred from both government service and lobbying for life seems perfectly reasonable to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Re: Under What Program

    Very few. New parents are heavily pressured into getting SSNs for their newborns the very day that they're born. That certainly goes into a new file.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Warnings

    Those warnings have never really been true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Re: FBI's logic

    not all bankers are fat and they have people who carry their bags of money for them.
    ... and many, if not most, do really well at living up to cockney rhyming slang... especially the merchant ones.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Internet Zen Master (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 1:50pm

    So...

    If they're not investigating crime anymore, then what does FBI stand for?

    Federal Bureau of Inquisitors?

    Federal Bureau of Interrogation?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Web_Rat (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 1:51pm

    Before and After.....

    Let's recognize it for what it really is.......

    Before: FBI Fact Sheet

    After: FIB Fact Sheet

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    afisher, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 3:03pm

    FBI

    The problem is how to FIX the problem. Anyone believe that petitions would work? Changing administration? OK, how about "smaller gov't". Anyone here actually believe that we-the-people would actually have a say in who is retired / fired.

    There are excellent books on the foibles of the FBI and CIA. Now, some may agree there is a problem, but until we have a solution - we are no better than OWS - although they actually had some positive outcomes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 3:10pm

    Re: FBI

    You're looking for a single solution. It doesn't exist. Real change driven by the citizenry is possible -- it's been done over and over in US history. The thing is that never once did that change come quickly or because of a single kind of action.

    The bonfire of change is fueled with lots and lots of kindling. Petitions? Yes. Voting? yes. Writing to your congresspeople? Yes. Demonstrating? Yes. All of these things, and more, are needed -- and it works.

    People who worry that we have no way to fix the problem are simply ignorant of history (not to mention expressing a fatalism that works to make real change much more difficult.) The way forward is clear, and the past shows us what it is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 3:40pm

    Re:

    DHS was supposed to join all the intel together from all agencies so the fbi doesnt forget to share with the cia and nsa in whatever order ..so they dont drop the ball again like they did with 9/11

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 3:49pm

    This is no different than the war on drugs for years and years the cia was bringing in the drugs ad putting the cartels into place >>> fast forward to pre 9/11 ... cia trains then hangs them out to dry pow ..the war on terror .. when our intelligence (i say intelligence and chuckle)fails they go all out ..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    OldGeezer (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 3:51pm

    I have read that because of the FBI shifting all their resources after 9/11 for several years child porn also flourished with thousands of "Lolita" and "preteen" sites going unchecked for years. It has probably been more Google's efforts to report these sites that most of that has been curbed than any efforts by the FBI. Using Windows Explorer which had no Ad Block in the early 2000's It was not unusual to get pop ups boldly advertizing these sites while clicking on sites that had absolutely nothing to do with any kind of pornography.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 4:11pm

    Ah, the old "national security" banner. Whoever waves this banner around is above the law, because they operate under the secret laws of tyrants.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 4:43pm

    Like I said before, it's much easier to go after a non existing problem (or a problem that other agencies are already going after) than it is to go after a real problem (that few others are going after).

    "National security" is such an abstract term these days that it can basically involve doing nothing (or, at least, nothing difficult) whereas fraud is a much more practical and common crime and catching those that commit fraud requires some effort.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 4:44pm

    Re:

    Basically the FBI is taking the easy way out. They want to get paid the most for doing the least amount of work and what better way to convince the government to throw more money at them than to claim they are responsible for national security. It's for the children!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 4:55pm

    Re:

    and, if you think about it, when the government created the department of homeland security (& the TSA) and it started creating all these expensive national security departments where do you think all that money came from? Some of it likely cut into the budgets of other agencies like the FBI. Now the FBI sees how much these other national security agencies receive and now that the FBI is receiving less they can't afford to do as much to stop criminals and they want more money like these other agencies so they start playing to the whole national security bandwagon to get more federal funding. The end result is that the Department of national security, by diverting money away from what used to be a more efficient and experienced FBI (among other law enforcement agencies) towards a new and inexperienced department of homeland security, has made us less safe.

    and that's one of the problems with trying to 'fix' national security by always creating new agencies. These new agencies cost money and that diverts resources away from existing more experienced and hence more efficient law enforcement agencies towards new less experienced and hence less efficient law enforcement agencies which makes us less safe.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 5:00pm

    Re: Re:

    Not to mention spreading the same amount of resources across more agencies to do basically the same thing creates coordination problem. Each agency has fixed costs before they can become productive and by having multiple agencies do essentially the same thing you are re-duplicating all those fixed costs which means the same amount of money is being used less efficiently and so we are less safe.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: FBI's logic

    It's not defamation if it is true

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Re: Under What Program

    You mean like how the FBI foils its own terrorist plots?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    BeeAitch (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 5:28pm

    Re:

    I clicked the (imaginary) "sad but true" button.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    BeeAitch (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 5:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: FBI's logic

    Um, High Court-low court?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    BeeAitch (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 5:35pm

    Re: So that's why...

    You can't crash the economies of Western Europe and North America and not do something illegal in the process.

    Define "illegal". /s?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    BeeAitch (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 5:46pm

    Re: Good Times

    Kind of like the Robber Barons of the late 19th century?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    nasch (profile), Jan 6th, 2014 @ 9:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Under What Program

    New parents are heavily pressured into getting SSNs for their newborns the very day that they're born. That certainly goes into a new file.

    Sure, but at the FBI? It's not impossible, but is there any evidence that the FBI keeps a database of newborns?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2014 @ 11:10pm

    Re: Re:

    You're absolutely right. And I'm sure when the government realise this as well, they will react by creating the Security Coordination Agency (to better coordinate the agencies), the Security Training Agency (to ensure the new agents will be as experienced and effective), and the Security Funding Department (to ensure that all the agencies are getting the funding the need) to deal with the problem you just raised.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 12:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Under What Program

    Sure, but at the FBI? It's not impossible, but is there any evidence that the FBI keeps a database of newborns?

    Well, there has to be someone who keeps putting all those babies on the no-fly lists.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    ryuugami, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 12:39am

    Re: So...

    If they're not investigating crime anymore, then what does FBI stand for?

    Funding Before Investigation.

    (At the risk of killing the joke by explaining it, I have to point out that the meaning of "before" taken here is "has a higher priority then".)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 6:12am

    Re: Re: FBI

    ^This. A million times this.

    Is everyone paying attention?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 6:51am

    Everyone seems to think terror plots are created to make the FBI's work easier. As if TPTB really care how hard the FBI works. No-one mentioning that fake terrorism serves to keep the masses scared, controllable and willing to relent unconditionally to any entity that claims to protect them. When the enemy and the guardian are one and the same, we are little more than drone, slave prisoners. It is a totalitarian dictatorship, nothing less. Democracy is a lie, a moral weapon to conquer nations and beings.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Jan 7th, 2014 @ 7:32am

    Re: Re: So that's why...

    Everything is illegal in some form or another. There isn't a person alive that doesn't commit some crime.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    IronM@sk, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 8:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Under What Program

    /facepalm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    icon
    Vincent Clement (profile), Jan 7th, 2014 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re:

    ...or drop the ball like they did with the Boston Marathon bombers.

    It's okay to travel to a part of the world known for terrorist activities and return back to the USA and then have a foreign intelligence agency ask the FBI to look into a few guys. But it is not okay for you to travel if the name of your 2-year old son matches a name on the no-fly list and then the same thing happens when he is 8-years old.

    Yup, DHS is doing a wonderful job fighting terrorism.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    any moose cow word, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re:

    Except you got that one backwards, it was the NSA that dropped the ball with 9/11. They knew who the hijackers were and what they had been up to before they entered the US, but then failed to report any of it to the FBI.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    any moose cow word, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 2:43pm

    Re: So that's why...

    Technically, with so many statutes on the books, everyone at some point or another has committed a crime. It's merely a matter of the government not being committed to enforcing the laws. Now, they're not even committed to enforcing the important laws either. Apparently "nationally security" has nothing to with stopping crime.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    any moose cow word, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 2:45pm

    Re: The FBI's counterterrorism focus didn't affect everything

    That's part of "national security" now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 8th, 2014 @ 11:14am

    Re: Re: So that's why...

    Not only that, nearly everyone breaks at least one law every single day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    kamo, Jan 10th, 2014 @ 9:23am

    "remember how the FBI knew all about the Boston bombers, but did nothing about them?"

    It's a sad situation when all the juicy conspiracy plots turn out to be simple incompetence...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 3:13am

    Fbi chasing copyright terrorests, anyone? We'll blame the economic meltdown on that...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    Michael Price, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 8:20am

    Taking the nonexistent focus off.

    From memory the FBI wasn't all that good at finding financial crime when it was actually trying.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    ModernSurvival, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Under What Program

    The FBI likely doesn't keep a file on every citizen, they don't have to. Folks like the NSA do so for them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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