FBI Apparently Believes That Court Orders Are For Suckers

from the data-mining-the-FBI dept

Wired's invaluable Ryan Singel has been panning for gold in the muddy stream of FBI e-mails and other documents recently obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation under a Freedom of Information Act request, and has already hit a couple of intriguing nuggets, such as overeager agents' willingness to bypass court-order requirements when seeking cell phone records. The documents reveal how this caused tension and dispute even within the Bureau.

One e-mail, from a tech specialist in the FBI's Minneapolis office, complained that other agents would even pose as that specialist when calling telecom carriers, hoping to persuade them to turn over cell records without a judge's order. The cell information would apparently then be used as part of a high-tech tracking program that allowed agents to pinpoint a cell user's location.

Equally intriguing is the report that the Bureau's national-security wiretapping software recorded almost 28 million "session" intercepts in 2006. While it's not clear precisely what counts as a "session," this is obviously vastly more than the 2,176 FISA warrants (pdf) obtained by the government that year, at least some of which only covered physical searches. Unless terror suspects talk on the phone far more than the average teenager, the discrepancy hints that each warrant may have covered a very large number of individuals.

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Filed Under: domestic spying, fbi, warrants
Companies: fbi


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  1. identicon
    evilned, 21 Dec 2007 @ 5:42pm

    Before you start blaming Bush...

    Most of the readers here are to young to remember the days of J. Edgar Hoover. If you think these constitutional violations are a recent development, then you should take a look back at what the FBI did to people like the Kennedy's, Martin Luther King, and others.

    This is an institutional problem with the FBI and they have been hauled up in front of congress repeatedly since the death of Hoover.

    Of course, no one dared go after Hoover in the old days because he had so much on people. He pretty much created a secret police and answered to no one. He even denied the existence of the mafia until it practically slapped him in the face.

    Read all the history on it.

    I'm of the opinion that the FBI can't be reformed or salvaged. It needs to be disbanded and the managers and a large number of the agents dismissed. There are some very good ones and they can be folded into a new agency that is built from the ground up with a stated mission and proper oversight.

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