ICE Wants To Be Yet Another Federal Agency With Access To Unminimized Surveillance

from the get-some-backdoor-searches-to-go-with-the-front-door-raids dept

Officials at ICE are pitching a dangerous idea to an administration likely to give it some consideration. It wants a seat at the grown-up table where it can partake of unminimized intel directly.

Internal advocates for joining the America’s spy agencies—known as the Intelligence Community or the IC—focus on the potential benefits to the agency’s work on counterproliferation, money laundering, counterterror, and cybercrime. The official added that joining the IC could also be useful for the agency’s immigration enforcement work––in particular, their efforts to find and arrest undocumented immigrants with criminal arrest warrants (known in ICE as fugitive aliens).

At this point, no one other than a few ICE officials really wants this to happen. Privacy and accountability activists say the last thing the White House should do is give the agency access to warrantless surveillance. ICE is a domestic enforcement agency and has no need to root around in foreign-facing data collections. The agency, however, feels foreign intel — along with the unmentioned backdoor searches of domestic communications — could aid it in tracking down drug traffickers, money launders, and various cybercriminals.

But it shouldn’t have direct access. Nor should it ever really need it. Information sharing has been expanded, thanks to the last president, which means ICE likely already receives second-hand info from other IC members like the DHS, FBI, and DEA. Former government officials are wary of the idea of direct intel access, noting that it would result in more complications, rather than better immigration and customs enforcement. Peter Vincent, ICE’s general counsel under Obama, had this to say:

Unlike most intelligence agencies, which focus on gathering information about America’s adversaries, ICE’s agents and officers deal with federal courts every day. If they use classified material to generate leads, that information could be inadmissible in court. Both the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, which are in the Intelligence Community, deal with this issue. Adjusting would be a challenge for ICE.

Vincent said this could create “many potential mission creep spectres, especially in this current climate,” and that he doesn’t think it would be necessary for ICE to join the Intelligence Community.

We’ve seen how well dips into NSA stores has worked for these two law enforcement agencies. Parallel construction becomes the rule, rather than the exception, and cases are far more likely to be dropped if defense lawyers and judges start asking too many questions about presented evidence.

Another former DHS intelligence official claims the added intel would do little more than “complicate the architecture,” making it harder for ICE to do its job. If critical information needs to be shared with ICE, it could be done by bringing the head of ICE in on intel meetings, rather than adding ICE into the IC mix and adding yet another set of minimization rules to intel sharing.

Bad idea or not, the push for ICE to join the Intelligence Community comes at the right time. While Trump has been extremely critical of other IC components — particularly the FBI — he’s very fond of his domestic immigration enforcers, having given them free rein to enforce the law in whatever way they see fit.

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Comments on “ICE Wants To Be Yet Another Federal Agency With Access To Unminimized Surveillance”

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31 Comments
Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

The logical conclusion of the quest for absolute power, absolutely

When all of these agencies have their access to complete scrutiny of everyone else in their respective searches for power, at some point they will realize that agency A is more powerful than agency B, C, D, etc.. Then the struggle will be between the agencies, and each agency will begin to target individuals in other agencies in order to compromise them. Of course there will then be retaliation, and who knows how much additional collateral damage.

This will most certainly be dangerous, but will it also be entertaining? Will there also be opportunities in this struggle to end them all?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The logical conclusion of the quest for absolute power, absolutely

Trademarking the term, “Alphabet Wars” now to describe the coming war of the TLA’s (Three Letter Agencies…)

I’ll sell t-shirts, mugs, beer, hard alcohol, rifles, ammunition, communication equipment, drones, basically anything and everything that I can sue Alphabet over…

Anonymous Coward says:

ICE is protecting domestic US of A territory against foreign invaders, so data from foreign countries such as about mass invasion plans or human trafficking could certainly be of use.

NOT “ICE is a domestic enforcement agency and has no need to root around in foreign-facing data collections.”

Techdirt basically sets immigrants above citizens.

Next STORY, this one is only too typical.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: ICE is protecting domestic US of A territory against foreign invaders, so data from foreign countries such as about mass invasion plans or human trafficking could certainly be of use.

It’s not about partisan politics. I have no particular interest in immigration policy. It just seems like Blue tries to make other people’s life more difficult and annoying. I’ve met a lot of immigrants who are just looking to improve life for themselves and their families. Wouldn’t you prefer an earnest person over an asshole who wants to make everyone else miserable?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s not hard to see why out_of_the_blue is in support of ICE – they were the ones who took down Dajaz1 with no evidence or provocation and put it on ice (pun intended) for five years, then quietly restored it without any apology or admission that they fucked up.

It’s a copyright fanboy’s wet dream.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: "data from foreign countries such as about mass invasion plans or human trafficking"

When state agents seek out evidence obtained in volation of the constitution and in violation of the rights of the public (yes, even when they are foreigners abroad) that is a crime by state agents against the people. (In the US it’s not enforced or punished, since state agents are abovet the law. But it’s still an injustice, and it’s still a crime.)

In civilized nations, when evidence is identified to be of this nature, even when it isn’t used directly to prosecute but rather to continue an investigation, it invalidates both. Civilization has fallen out of favor lately.

The NSA’s mass surveillance program was built with the spurious intent to treat terrorists as enemy combatants. But as such, now we treat the public as enemy combatants. The US no longer has an interest in serving the public and enforcing law, but to regard ordinary people as a threat and contain them.

The United States is an occupied territory by an enemy military. Our law enforcment agencies are turning into espionage agencies with military departments to enforce their will, they don’t intent to police, or enforce law they intend to sweep and clear.

When the public is the enemy there aren’t criminals. There are only combatants.

Lord_Unseen (profile) says:

Re: ICE is protecting domestic US of A territory against foreign invaders, so data from foreign countries such as about mass invasion plans or human trafficking could certainly be of use.

It doesn’t matter what your personal opinion of ICE is, it’s still a law enforcement agency. As such, they are bound by the 4th amendment, whether you like it or not. One thing you might notice about most Constitutional Amendments is that they don’t mention citizens anywhere. That means it has more of an effect of restricting law enforcement powers, no matter who they use those powers against.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: ICE is protecting domestic US of A territory against foreign invaders, so data from foreign countries such as about mass invasion plans or human trafficking could certainly be of use.

“restricting law enforcement powers,”

Words are cheap. There is no restriction when law enforcement is selective. Cops, DA, AG are given huge leeway.

Stella Ferguson (profile) says:

I recognize that there are national security interests that warrant the maintenance of extensive and sophisticated intelligence gathering apparatus; but to be frank, the NSA has undertaken a profound disservice to the American people. By undermining the rule of law, and by this I mean the obvious (though secret) abrogation of the Constitution, the Agency hasn’t merely undermined the confidence of the American people, they’ve betrayed our country.

I as dissertation writer say this with the strongest possible emphasis: Action must be taken immediately to deconstruct this evil betrayal of the American people. This isn’t merely an "emotional" response to revelations the administration so desperately wishes were still bottled-up. The American people expect that our common values and freedoms will not be undermined by our own government; and having found that this is indeed the case, a full, immediate, and complete deconstruction of the program must be seen to be accomplished and publicly verified. There must be HARSH penalties for any future "inadvertent" violation, including, but not limited to, minimum mandatory prison terms against each and every person that participates with such violation consistent with perpetration of a Class B felony, and compounded for each and every instance. A permanent independent Intelligence Oversight Agency must also be created, with full access to all intelligence gathering activities for all Federal agencies.

Nothing less can forestall America’s growing perception that its government is an enemy of the people.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Government undermining of our common values and freedoms.

We’ve had numerous articles right here on Techdirt that have analyzed released documents from within our agencies noting that the public is now regarded not as citizens with rights but enemy combatants.

We are assured by newsmedia that we, the general public have rights. But any given individual who dares to exercise those rights can still be pressured by the police (violently) to relinquish those rights. And they are.

But for now our news media and our fictions tell us we still have those rights. I’d be curious how much of the public still believes them.

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