FBI Agents Getting More Power To Spy On People With Less Oversight

from the no,-that-won't-be-abused-at-all dept

The FBI has quite a history of abusing its powers in spying on people. Over the past few years, revelations of massive abuses of the National Security Letter (NSL) process to get info on people without proper oversight, has showed how agents will quite frequently go beyond what is legal to obtain info on people. So it seems quite troubling to find out that the FBI is adapting its manual for agents, known as “The Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide,” to let agents do electronic lookups on people without first justifying the reasons.

Under current rules, agents must open such an inquiry before they can search for information about a person in a commercial or law enforcement database. Under the new rules, agents will be allowed to search such databases without making a record about their decision.

We’ve seen over and over and over again, when people have access to giant databases of info (especially in the government) without clear tracking or oversight, that data gets abused. Allowing FBI agents to search willy nilly is a recipe for widespread abuse.

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Comments on “FBI Agents Getting More Power To Spy On People With Less Oversight”

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That Anonymous Coward says:

cue delusion 1 – Well it doesn’t affect me, because I am a good person.

And when they finally move the line to include you, who will be left to stand up and say its wrong?

cue delusion 2 – But but but Terrorism!

It is not something to can find like Waldo in a picture, throwing wider and wider nets might find you one, but at the expense of how many people to find the 1. How much time of this will be wasted digging through a very large pile of data on people who are not wrong doers?

cue delusion 3 – They would never abuse this!

Has experience taught you nothing? Even with the fairly relaxed “rules” they had before they still felt the need to skip those steps. When they can demand things on merely a post-it there is a huge flaw in the system that needs correction, not less rules.

They tie this up in the pretty bow of well terrorists are like a country, so we can get them that way. But at the same time they represent that terrorists are hard to catch because they work independently.

Laws like this are meant to get the Government soundbites that play well to the people, we are working harder to defend “The American Way ™”. And if anyone raises any issues they are painted as terrorist loving bastards. Terrorism its the new Communism. With these powers will we be revisited soon by the ghost of McCarthy and force people to testify on their friends who think the Government is selling out the people?

Terrorism, it is indeed a problem, but the methods being employed are far reaching knee-jerk reactions to the last attack or plan. They have not shown why they need these powers, save the catch all answer of but but but terrorism. While we are not approaching a police state as some people would claim, we are sliding back down that slope where we have files on everyone, good bad or indifferent.

When are we going to wake up to the fact we are going back to the 50s, but this time it will be McCarthy along with the special powers of the KGB to know everything about you. Yes we need to be vigilant about threats to ourselves but we need to reign in the hysteria and respond better not just wider.

Thomas (profile) says:

The rebirth..

of the Gestapo in the guise of the FBI. Himmler would be very proud of the spooks in Washington these days. Never mind McCarthy, think back to Himmler. Just wait till more people start vanishing into the maws of the spooks.

It doesn’t really matter if oversight is required – they will simply go ahead and do what they d*** well please and they know full well they will be able to get away with it. Anyone who opposes them publicly is seen as pro-terrorist.

Anonymous Coward says:

Their goal is to slowly take away our freedoms so that we do not notice. They try to make us feel that we are different from each other (black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Mexican, rich, poor, smart, elite, educated, middle-class, Jewish, catholic, young, old, etc.) but we are still all human. We are basically all the same. We forget this easily, and they know that. They are very smart, but they know that you hold all the power in the world if you choose to use it.

That is why they don’t want you to know that you are just like your neighbor. You breathe the same air, drink the same water and have been formed from the same minerals that were created over billions of years throughout our universe. They want to makes us feel separate so they can take away rights from some people while the majority either don’t care, don’t know or are all for it because from the start, these people are perceived as different. Therefore, once you become among the targeted demographic, no one will be there to fight for your rights. Your rights will be stripped away just as those before you were, the other humans that you did not stand up for when their rights were being trampled on. And as your rights are being yanked away in plain sight, others will look on and say ?well?the law is the law,? ?if they don?t like it they should leave,? ?it is for freedom? and freedom isn?t free,? ?if you aren?t doing anything wrong, then you don?t have anything to worry about,? the possibilities are endless.

Did the German citizens want to murder Jewish people in concentration camps? Most likely not. However, the rights of the Jewish people were slowly eroded to the point where the common German citizen had no problem with limiting their rights and ultimately murdering them. Do you think that the German citizens would have stood up for the Jewish people if on day one of Hitler being in power he laid out his plans for the persecution of the Jewish people and his plans for world dominance? Yes! They would have stopped that shi t right then.

Hitler was smart, and he surrounded himself with the smartest scientists, politicians, generals and propagandists (the media). Slowly but surely the population was shouting his mantra and falling into line. In hindsight, if the German people had stood up and said no, the actions would have stopped. Alas, they did not.

Our government has learned much from that era. Why leave the advancements that Hitler had made in technology, warfare, physiological/mind control, propaganda, etc. to be wasted, or worse, used by the Russians? These tools have been used to create a new quest for supremacy.

Guess what? You have all opted in. They know how you think. They know what to show you to make you hungry. They know what to show you to make you thirsty. They know what to show you to make you horny. They know what to show you to make you mad. They know what to show you to make you sad, depressed and to want all kinds of things that you don?t need. They know how you will vote. They know how you will act if they take away your rights and they use this to take away as much as they can without you going ape sh it. And now you know.

So, do not buy their ?food,? drinks, useless crap, propaganda (main-stream media, cable TV, newspapers, magazines), don?t use their banks (use local credit unions or banks if possible) and demand transparency and accountability. You do not need to do everything at once, but you can start with the things that are easier and see how far you can take it. Anyone who claims that the man or the system holds them down, but doesn?t do any of these things clearly does not know what they are talking about.

Do not fear, for you are the government. The people have the power. Tell your family, your neighbor, your colleagues and everyone you meet that we are all in this together and it is only us that can determine our future. Take a step out of the box and picture the world in 100 years.

Anonymous Coward says:


“But Facebook…”

Is one of the databases that the feds have unlimited, unmonitored access to. Keep in mind that everything you tell any social network is immediately available to (a) the feds and (b) any of the hackers talented enough to break into that social network…which is “many of them”, given the absolutely pathetic security that social networks have in place.

FormerAC (profile) says:

The conspiracy theorist in me ...

The conspiracy theorist in me always cringes when I hear about things like this. Let me clue you in to how he thinks …

We know our friendly US government has worked deals to get messages they want implanted in prime time TV shows.
We know our friendly US government is working very hard to either completely eliminate those pesky Bill of Rights things, or to make it legal for some US spy agency to spy on every single person on the planet.
We know that on most TV shows, anyone who asks for a lawyer before being interviewed by the cops is absolutely, 100% guilty, just because he has a lawyer.
We know that our current prime time TV landscape is absolutely flooded with cop dramas (how many CSIs? Law and Orders? NCIS? Criminal Minds? Mentalist? White Collar? In Plain Sight etc etc) do we see every week? Is there any point, on any one of those dramas where someone is NOT painted as guilty when they ask for their lawyer?
We know that it makes great television for those cops to hack the FBI database of this or that. Or illegally wiretap someone they “know” is guilty. Or slam an ax into a table to intimidate an underage suspect (w/o lawyer of course!) into giving a false confession?

Is is really that hard to believe that there are people somewhere pulling strings like this? Flood the popular media with the right message while giving the FBI the powers to fight evil that our heroes on TV have?

I must be crazy to think like that.


Anonymous Coward says:

The conspiracy theorist in me ...

“We know our friendly US government has worked deals to get messages they want implanted in prime time TV shows.”

Please tell me this is true, the “US government”, all 2,823,777 people, rubbing their hands together, saying muahaha while plotting to take over the world by implanting subliminal messages on TV.

Or, your crazy.

Aerilus says:


you don’t watch a lot of movies do you. letting any one have access without a reason or consulting a supervisor means that is can be misused by dirty agents. it takes three seconds to go ask your boss or fill out a form to ask to use the database. In turn you don’t get agents doing favors or conducting personal investigations and thinking twice before misusing their power.

Patrick (profile) says:


I agree with almost every point you made except, “While we are not approaching a police state as some people would claim”.

We are more of a Police State then Nazi Germany ever was. Considering all the policing agencies; from your home town, your county, your state and the federal government, e.i. local/city police, country sheriff, state police/trooper, state run investigation service (states version of the FBI), ICE, IRS, CIA, ATF (Federal & States) just to name a few.
But wait there’s more, most folks don’t think about when referring to policing agencies let’s not forget about code enforcement, FCC, Fed. Trade Comm., ASPCA, DCF (Children & Family Services), SEC, TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority), DEA, many local municipal power & water authorities and many others.

If you look at all the agencies that have policing and or investigation powers, we are in a “Police State”.

That Anonymous Coward says:


You missed my correction, sometimes when I am thinking my response my fingers decide to skip some of the words and I missed the word quickly.

I do feel we are moving towards a police state, some people claim it is here now but I think they are slowly dragging their feet in that direction to keep people from noticing the slide.

Many people who want to point out this slide are often portrayed as freedom hating people, and sometimes use language that makes it easier for the other side to deflect away from the real issue into a debate over the words. You compare it to Nazi Germany to evoke a response, the problem is the other side wants to focus on how they are not gassing people and rounding up a religious group into camps. They avoid the discussion about how they behave in very similar ways recording peoples movements and compiling other information so they can use that when it becomes needed.

Until people stop just accepting the idea of let us do this or a terrorist will pop out from under your bed and question the reasoning used for these expanded powers we will get more of the same.

kirillian (profile) says:


Not 100% true. The Germans as well as anyone else in the world at that time knew perfectly well that Hitler hated and planned to kill the Jews. He wrote about it well before he came to power…MeinKampf anyone? It was the best-selling book in all of Germany for a couple years. And sold pretty darned well around the world. Hitler’s plans were there for all to see.

Now, granted…I don’t think people necessarily understood what they were reading, but surely, with that many people buying the book and an amount of them reading it, someone thought about it? I don’t really think that the German people are as innocent in that regard as you spoke of. It doesn’t make sense. They would have to be stupid to NOT know.

I think the more reasonable explanation is that Hitler appealed to their sense of nationality because they were a broken people. The brokenness of their state after World War I was horrible. The alliance from that First War wanted Germany to pay for and take responsibility for the entire first war. Germany fell from being a world power to being virtually a 2nd or 3rd rate nation…and its people felt that. They just wanted to feel national pride, etc. THAT’s why they didnt care that Hitler planned to kill Jews – they just looked the other way. They just wanted to believe in Hitler and were willing to accept whatever cost.

So, I’m not really countering your entire argument. I feel this actually makes it stronger…because this more closely parallels what we see today than you pointed out. We, as a nation, are having the wool pulled over our eyes over the whole terrorism thing or concerning copyright or patent or many various things that we as a nation value greatly (pretty much anything stemming from capitalism it appears). We’re willing to sacrifice everything it seems because we’d rather just turn our faces aside and pretend that we’re not giving up freedoms because we just WANT to believe the lies.

Bobby says:

FBI? Did someone say "FBI?"

I’ve made a parody logo of the FBI “Piracy Warning.” It’s free of copyright (under fair use) and free to post anywhere and everywhere. I posted it to my business website, where it can be viewed and downloaded. http://tcfdm.com/FBI.jpg
I suppose the FBI might come calling, without smiles on their faces. Oh, well. I have the right to say whatever I want about the government. It says so on an old piece of parchment.

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