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Old 03-18-2007, 11:12 PM  
|Zach| |Zach| is offline
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The significance of the FBI's law-breaking

The significance of the FBI's law-breaking

A front-page Washington Post article this morning reports that the FBI's illegal use of NSLs was known inside the FBI but continued anyway. The real value of this article is that it keeps this scandal in the spotlight, because there has, thus far, been too little appreciation for just how serious and threatening this rampant FBI lawbreaking really is. The seriousness of this scandal has been, understandably, slightly obscured by the sheer number of other DOJ scandals, so it is worthwhile to note what makes this so significant.

In essence, the FBI and our nation's telecommunications companies have secretly created a framework whereby the FBI can obtain -- instantaneously and without limits -- any information it asks for. The Patriot Act already substantially expanded the circumstances under which the FBI can obtain such records without the need for subpoenas or any judicial process, and it left in place only the most minimal limitations and protections. But it is those very minimal safeguards which the FBI continuously violated in order to obtain whatever information its agents desired, about any Americans they targeted, with literally no limits of any kind.

In order to obtain telephone records within this FBI-telecom framework, FBI agents have been simply furnishing letters to the telecom companies -- not even NSLs, just plain letters from an agent -- assuring the telecom companies that (a) the records were needed immediately due to "exigent circumstances" and (b) a subpoena for the records had been submitted to the U.S. Attorneys Office and was in the process of being finalized. Upon receiving that letter, the telecoms provided any records the FBI requested -- instantaneously, via computer.

At times, they would request records for multiple numbers at once, and sometimes for hundreds of numbers. From the DOJ's IG Report (.pdf):



But the law does not allow any such process. They simply invented it outside of any legal framework in order to get the information they wanted. The FBI and the telecom companies, on their own, have basically created a lawless framework whereby FBI agents can obtain whatever information they ask for with no safeguards.

Worse, in many of these cases where these letters were provided, they were completely false -- both because there were no "exigent" circumstances of any kind and there were no subpoenas that were submitted or being processed. So the FBI agents who submitted these instruction letters repeatedly made false statements in order to obtain highly intrusive records. This is the crux of the abuse:



Far worse still, one of the very few safeguards remaining after the Patriot Act is that the records sought by the FBI must at least relate to an actual national security investigation. That is not just some bureaucratic or petty record-keeping requirement. That is what ensures an actual nexus between the records the FBI obtains concerning your private activities and a real national security purpose. Without that limitation, the FBI just has the free-floating power to compile dossiers on whomever they want.

Yet in hundreds of cases (at least), the FBI sought these records even though there was no pending investigation to which the records related. That means that there were no limits on the telecommunications records which the FBI sought and obtained. They just asked for whatever records they wanted, said whatever they had to say in their lawless letters to get them (even when such statements were false), and the telecom companies instantaneously provided the data to the FBI.

As Lambert at Corrente Wire documented, the FBI not only has the right, but the obligation, to store all of the records it obtains on computer data bases which, as I noted earlier this week, are accessible by tens of thousands of government employees, outside private companies, and even foreign governments. The abolition of most legal safeguards on the power of the Federal Government to obtain and store data about the private lives of American citizens is already itself scandalous, but the fact that the FBI has been continuously violating even those few remaining limitations and instead literally obtaining, with the full-scale cooperation of private telecom companies, any information it asks for -- and making false statements in the process -- is a profoundly disturbing revelation. And one should not even need to explain why that is so.

It really ought to go without saying that the Federal Government does not have as one of its purposes the compiling and storing of data about the private lives of citizens. To the extent such activities are necessary to forward genuine law enforcement or investigative purposes, stringent limitations and oversight are critical, otherwise abuse is inevitable. Yet here, the Federal Government has literally been operating in total secrecy for the last six years, wildly expanding its power to obtain whatever information it wants about any Americans it targets, for whatever reasons, and vast data bases are being created and expanded.

And the ultimate and most pitiful irony of all is that the political movement that claimed to stand for a limited Federal Government is the same movement that has ushered in these invasive and lawless practices, resulting in a Federal Government that has more intrusive and more unchecked power to monitor the private lives of American citizens than, by far, it has ever had before. Independently, this whole system created by the FBI all but prevents any scrutiny, since the failure even to serve NSLs or subpoenas for these records makes it extremely difficult to determine which records were obtained and for what purpose -- a significant reason why the IG's office was unable to conclude whether these illegally obtained records were motivated by criminal intent.

The idea that this is just about some sort of bureaucratic negligence with some petty record-keeping requirements -- a defense being mounted by Bush followers -- is just insultingly stupid. The NSLs have been a source of intense controversy for years. Their potential for abuse is self-evident. And yet the FBI has created systems which allow it to circumvent the few safeguards which exist, and they have exploited that lawless system aggressively and repeatedly -- by making clearly false statements and obtaining records they are legally prohibited from obtaining -- all, according to the Post report, with the knowledge of many FBI lawyers and other managers, at the very least.

If we tolerate our government obtaining and storing information about our personal lives and private activities in clear violation of the laws we have enacted in order to limit those surveillance powers, what don't we tolerate? This lawbreaking is rooted in the same ideology of lawlessness that has governed our country since 2001. For that reason, this is the same question engendered by the NSA scandal, multiple revelations of other law-breaking, and now the revelations (almost certainly still incomplete) that the FBI has ignored the legal limitations on its power to monitor and store data concerning the private lives of American citizens.

-- Glenn Greenwald

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwa...nsl/index.html
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Old 03-20-2007, 06:15 PM   #106
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patteeu
How consistent. You're wrong as usual. I'll grant you that Zach's post leaves a little to be desired in the understandability category, but it's pretty unlikely that he was referring to the DOJ documents since his response comes just a few minutes after noa949 posted the first link to the documents and since his response is in a series of back and forth posts between Zach and Kotter in which the merits of the Salon editorial are being discussed. My response came long after the DOJ documents had been linked but that's irrelevant. I think my subsequent posts make it clear that I was talking about the editorial even if you couldn't figure it out from that original post and the overwhelming contextual clues.
Don't waste your time and mine, pat. You knew the link was on there, you knew the facts alleged in the Salon article were in fact accurately reported from the DOJ article, because the DOJ article was right there for you to peruse. The horse's mouth was right in front of you, and you called it all spin. Thus my point about reducing facts and evidence to "spin" when it fits your preconceptions and biases is dead on accurate with regard to your comment. End of story. Do with that what you like.
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Old 06-09-2013, 01:55 PM   #107
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I am shocked and outraged
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Old 06-09-2013, 02:03 PM   #108
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Originally Posted by dirk digler View Post
I am shocked and outraged
This! Going on here? I'm shocked!
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Old 06-09-2013, 02:13 PM   #109
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I had forgotten about this. One of those Kotter has bat shit in his brains threads.
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Old 06-09-2013, 02:28 PM   #110
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirk digler View Post
I am shocked and outraged
And yet the system just keeps on working, just like it should...despite the histrionics of partisan shills who have "IMPEACHMENT!!!" in their eyes.

And all the yapping, hyperventilation, hyperbole, and hand-wringing ain't gonna amount to a hill of beans in the end. Much ado about nothing, really; then, and now.
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Old 06-09-2013, 05:55 PM   #111
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Old 06-09-2013, 06:34 PM   #112
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Gotta love the CP archive.
It makes the herculean task of making rexjake and Mr. Kotter look foolish a little easier, and for that we thank you.
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Old 06-09-2013, 06:47 PM   #113
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Oh how cute. The moonbats are bumping old threads now.

yeah been there done that.
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:12 PM   #114
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It makes the herculean task of making rexjake and Mr. Kotter look foolish a little easier, and for that we thank you.
My contention that, ultimately, and politically we tend to make mountains out of mole hills...and that despite its flaws the system works. And the beat goes on.

That is somehow, foolish?

Your idea of foolish, and mine....seem world's apart. I'm eager for your explanation (or Zach's) otherwise.

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Old 06-10-2013, 07:56 AM   #115
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Kotter View Post
My contention that, ultimately, and politically we tend to make mountains out of mole hills...and that despite its flaws the system works. And the beat goes on.

That is somehow, foolish?

Your idea of foolish, and mine....seem world's apart. I'm eager for your explanation (or Zach's) otherwise.

Seriously, you should have joined the KGB instead of teaching. This is far from being a molehill that is being turned into a big deal. You may be able to say that about Benghazi, which was incompetence but the NSA matter is NOT what America is about. It's people who think like you that has led us to where we are currrently. Wake up!

NSA collection operation strikes at the very heart of what the Founders felt was vital for the survival of our Republic—trust in their federal government. Now how can anyone be sure?

•When someone purchases a gun on line will their name be placed on a back-door gun registry?

•Are communications with a lawyer in a case involving the federal government being read by the Department of Justice, federal judges etc.?

•Will our communications with a doctor be read by a Health and Human Services Department, the IRS, and a goon in charge of enforcing the ACA heath care disaster.

•What about communications with a priest, minister or rabbi being heard by those who lust to remove all traces of religion from public life? Or anyone who doesn't support an abortion?

• Has electronic communication been placed into a dossier that can be used smear or blackmail when politically useful?
Above courtesy of Michael Scheuer former CIA head of binLaden counterrorism unit.
And then direct quotes below:

Osama bin Laden Predicted Obama’s War on the 4th Amendment


Quote:
And in the last week, we have learned that the bin Laden’s second prediction has come to pass in the Obama administration’s expansion of a Bush-era program to collect electronic information on U.S. citizens who are entirely unrelated to the war against the Islamists.

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What Americans will do about the attack on their Constitution it is another story.
If we do nothing then we are to blame for the state of the union.

A BIG deal needs to be made with the following being done:

Quote:
Impeachment and conviction of those elected officials – Democrat and Republican – and the judges who authorized, expanded, or condoned the all-inclusive NSA collection program seem absolutely necessary, as does the firing of those senior bureaucrats and military officers in the Intelligence Community, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, and Department of Justice who designed the operation. Is this is enough to restore Americans’ trust in and affection for their federal government? Well, I guess we will have to wait and see.

One thing does seem clear, however, and that is a failure to remove those responsible for deliberately violating the 4th Amendment would draw some very ominous battle lines in American society.
All of them are criminals in violation of the laws of this country. Ignore the sheep that speak, and make a bigger deal.
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Old 06-10-2013, 09:14 AM   #116
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Originally Posted by Mr. Kotter View Post
My contention that, ultimately, and politically we tend to make mountains out of mole hills...and that despite its flaws the system works. And the beat goes on.

That is somehow, foolish?

Your idea of foolish, and mine....seem world's apart. I'm eager for your explanation (or Zach's) otherwise.

Didn't say you and rexxy were foolish in the same manner. Your folly is picking a few foolish issues to take an emotional vehement stand on, and playing sanguine hipster on a lot of legitimately contentious issues.
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Old 06-10-2013, 01:43 PM   #117
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Didn't say you and rexxy were foolish in the same manner. Your folly is picking a few foolish issues to take an emotional vehement stand on, and playing sanguine hipster on a lot of legitimately contentious issues.
Also spending most the thread not even talking about the issue but the style of the post...and being wrong about it all at the same time.
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Old 06-10-2013, 02:39 PM   #118
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Moonbats, self report yourselves at once for bumping old threads.
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Old 06-10-2013, 03:12 PM   #119
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Old 06-10-2013, 03:39 PM   #120
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Moonbats, self report yourselves at once for bumping old threads.
Do I repeat myself? Very well I repeat myself.
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