DEA Paid Amtrak Secretary $850,000 To Hand Over Confidential Passenger Lists For No Reason

from the uh,-wow dept

We’ve already written about the DEA’s deep involvement with the intelligence community, including them being trained to lie about getting info from the intelligence community when it uses it to bust drug dealers — a system known as parallel construction, which is encouraged throughout the agency. We also know that AT&T (and possibly others) have employees embedded at the DEA to provide it with even faster access to any information that the DEA wants. We’ve also covered how the DEA often gets unchecked access to private information and has been caught circumventing laws to get medical records without a warrant. The DEA is also the force behind the NSA’s recording of every phone call in the Bahamas.

Basically, as bad as the NSA, CIA and FBI may be, the DEA appears to be a pretty massive violator of civil liberties in pursuit of any and all information it can get its hands on. So, given that, it shouldn’t be even remotely surprising that the DEA apparently forked over $854,460 to a secretary working for Amtrak to get her to hand over private passenger information for a period of 20 years. Except there is this:

The DEA could have lawfully obtained [this information] for free through a law enforcement network.

Also, it seems worth noting that it took Amtrak’s inspector general 20 years to figure all this out, and then the operation decided to let the (unnamed) secretary retire (with $854,460 more than she “earned”) rather than face any discipline.

On Monday, the office of Amtrak Inspector General Tom Howard declined to identify the secretary or say why it took so long to uncover the payments. Howard’s report on the incident concluded, “We suggested policy changes and other measures to address control weaknesses that Amtrak management is considering.” DEA spokesman Matt Barden declined to comment.

So, the DEA wasted nearly a million dollars to get private info that it could have obtained for free — but which it probably shouldn’t be allowed to have without a warrant. And the “rogue” secretary who forked over this info, while padding her own income, gets off without any consequence at all. Good thing she didn’t download public domain material from the internet…

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Companies: amtrak

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Comments on “DEA Paid Amtrak Secretary $850,000 To Hand Over Confidential Passenger Lists For No Reason”

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21 Comments
Michael (profile) says:

Dear DEA,

I have information about a lot of people available to me and may be willing to part with some of it for a heavily discounted $750,000.

While the information I have may not be useful to you in investigating those selling drugs illegally, that does not seem to matter much to you so I am making this offer.

Thank you.

PS – NSA, if you get this before the DEA, please forward it to them. You may want some of this information as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Gender assumption?

Should the secretary have been referred to as “it”?

That’s frowned upon in writing – to refer to a singular person as “it” or “them” – so most writers will choose a gender-based pronoun, even if the gender is not identified. Mike chose the feminine pronoun. There are many writers today that exclusively choose the feminine pronoun when the subject’s gender is unknown.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Gender assumption?

Meh. “He or she”, “him or her”, etc., are clumsy. I hate it when writers do that. Also, writers do often get criticized for using “he” as the go-to pronoun when the gender is unknown (even though that is, in fact, correct English). Many writers mix it up as a s result and use “she” instead of “he” about half the time.

“it might be confusing later if the identity becomes known and it turns out to be a man.”

And if “he” was used, it would be equally confusing if it turned out to be a woman. There is no winning here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Gender assumption?

“writers do often get criticized for using “he” as the go-to pronoun when the gender is unknown”

Well, in this case since it was a secretary and a secretary job is presumed to be a feminine job one can argue that it is the use of she here that’s stereotypical.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Gender assumption?

I guess.

First, the “secretary” being discussed isn’t an office pool secretary, but an executive management position (which has never had a woman-oriented gender bias). Second, of all the office secretaries that I’ve known, — an admittedly small sample — it’s been pretty close to 50-50 on which gender they were.

It’s funny, now that I think of it, I subconsciously thought that the idea that secretaries are usually women was long gone. At least, when I hear “secretary” I don’t automatically think “woman” at all.

LduN (profile) says:

Maybe this was one of those FBI funded plots (with the DEA’s help so the FBI can keep their hands “clean”) that fell through the cracks? (I mean it only cost $1M over 20 years… can’t even buy a congress seat with that type of money) Imagine if the FBI had uncovered a plot that revealed so much personal inforation about people, that could have been shared with terrorists! People would of been so happy, and the gov. would have doubled their funding yearly for the next 100 years

Think of the children!!!

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