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...

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Michael, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 7:57am

    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.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 8:00am

    Gender assumption?

    I read the linked article, and didn't spot any mention of the gender of this secretary - so references to "she" and "her" in this article appear to be assumptions.

    Just wanted to point that out...

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    HegemonicDistortion (profile), Aug 12th, 2014 @ 8:06am

    CFAA

    Seems this behavior might "exceed authorized access" under the DOJ's current interpretation. I'm sure Steven Heymann (or his DC counterpart) will get right on it.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 8:13am

    Seems like a pattern...

    1. Declare war on something.
    2. Violate laws in name of said war.
    3. Profit.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Michael, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 8:19am

    Re: Seems like a pattern...

    3. Retire and take job consulting for $1m per month
    4. Profit


    all better.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    KoD, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 8:22am

    That last line makes me very sad and very angry..

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 8:27am

    Not Mine

    "So, the DEA wasted nearly a million dollars to get private info that it could have obtained for free"

    Why should the DEA worry, I mean, it's not like it's their personal money or anything?

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Aug 12th, 2014 @ 8:27am

    presumably...

    she knows where some skeletons are, THAT is the coin of the realm in washingtoon...

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 8:58am

    Re: Re: Seems like a pattern...

    I was referring to the government in general not any particular individual.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Dan, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 9:28am

    Forfeitures - Follow the Money

    It was suggested elsewhere that if they obtained the passenger data through cooperation with Amtrack Law Enforcement then they have to share any forfeitures. By getting the data from an informant they don't have to share.

     

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

  11.  
    icon
    Lucifer (profile), Aug 12th, 2014 @ 9:33am

    Re: Gender assumption?

    Offended Sir?

    Then refund the dough.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 9:52am

    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.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 9:58am

    Re: Re: Gender assumption?

    The linked article simple referred to "the employee".

    Other potential options are "he or she" and "him or her".

    In any case, it's no big deal, but it might be confusing later if the identity becomes known and it turns out to be a man.

     

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

  14.  
    icon
    LduN (profile), Aug 12th, 2014 @ 10:55am

    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!!!

     

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

  15.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 12th, 2014 @ 10:55am

    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.

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 12:56pm

    The US government never holds anyone accountable. That's why their organization continues to descend in public opinion.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 5:02pm

    Re:

    Dear Michael,

    Sorry, but we already have all of that information. You don't need to send it to us again. Don't worry, if you find out anything else, we'll be the first to know.

    NSA^D^D^DDEA.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2014 @ 7:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

     

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

  19.  
    icon
    Bergman (profile), Aug 12th, 2014 @ 8:25pm

    Re: CFAA

    If you or I did it, it would be called bribery and we'd go to prison.

    But because someone sworn to uphold the law did it, it's apparently okay.

     

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

  20.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 13th, 2014 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Michael, Aug 14th, 2014 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re:

    Dear NSA/DEA Pirates,

    Please stop stealing my intellectual property. Because you have stolen this information from me already, I will offer you a license for it at the low, low price of 1.2 billion dollars.

    Please think of the corn farmers.

     

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


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