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FBI's Surveillance Grows by 100X
November 7, 2005 12:15 PM   Subscribe


 
"National security letters offer a case study of the impact of the Patriot Act outside the spotlight of political debate. Drafted in haste after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the law's 132 pages wrought scores of changes in the landscape of intelligence and law enforcement. Many received far more attention than the amendments to a seemingly pedestrian power to review 'transactional records.' But few if any other provisions touch as many ordinary Americans without their knowledge.

Senior FBI officials acknowledged in interviews that the proliferation of national security letters results primarily from the bureau's new authority to collect intimate facts about people who are not suspected of any wrongdoing. Criticized for failure to detect the Sept. 11 plot, the bureau now casts a much wider net, using national security letters to generate leads as well as to pursue them. Casual or unwitting contact with a suspect -- a single telephone call, for example -- may attract the attention of investigators and subject a person to scrutiny about which he never learns."
posted by digaman at 12:17 PM on November 7, 2005


*waves at FBI agent*
posted by matteo at 12:21 PM on November 7, 2005


*puts on pants, blushes*
posted by item at 12:22 PM on November 7, 2005


*waves goodbye to the Constitution*
posted by digaman at 12:24 PM on November 7, 2005


"The FBI knows you're reading MetaFilter."

So?
posted by mischief at 12:25 PM on November 7, 2005


Here's the relavent text to me : "'The Abuse Is in the Power Itself'
Those who favor the new rules maintain -- as Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, put it in a prepared statement -- that "there has not been one substantiated allegation of abuse of these lawful intelligence tools."

What the Bush administration means by abuse is unauthorized use of surveillance data -- for example, to blackmail an enemy or track an estranged spouse. Critics are focused elsewhere. What troubles them is not unofficial abuse but the official and routine intrusion into private lives.

To Jeffrey Breinholt, deputy chief of the Justice Department's counterterrorism section, the civil liberties objections "are eccentric." Data collection on the innocent, he said, does no harm unless "someone [decides] to act on the information, put you on a no-fly list or something." Only a serious error, he said, could lead the government, based on nothing more than someone's bank or phone records, "to freeze your assets or go after you criminally and you suffer consequences that are irreparable." He added: "It's a pretty small chance."

"I don't necessarily want somebody knowing what videos I rent or the fact that I like cartoons," said Mason, the Washington field office chief. But if those records "are never used against a person, if they're never used to put him in jail, or deprive him of a vote, et cetera, then what is the argument?"

Barr, the former congressman, said that "the abuse is in the power itself."

"As a conservative," he said, "I really resent an administration that calls itself conservative taking the position that the burden is on the citizen to show the government has abused power, and otherwise shut up and comply."

At the ACLU, staff attorney Jameel Jaffer spoke of "the profound chilling effect" of this kind of surveillance: "If the government monitors the Web sites that people visit and the books that they read, people will stop visiting disfavored Web sites and stop reading disfavored books. The FBI should not have unchecked authority to keep track of who visits [al-Jazeera's Web site] or who visits the Web site of the Federalist Society.""

In this section they bring up the argument "if you aren't doing anything wrong, you've nothing to worry about". I'm of the camp that's more along the lines of "don't speak up or we'll tel lthe world about that time you ate that steak off the floor (8 second rule, man), or worse (whatever thought crime/little petty indescretion you choose)." I really, really hate the idea of a stranger, even a government agent, watching my activities to see if I'm a good little boy. Republicans complain of a Nanny state, well, say hello to the Nanny.

Oh, and speak out loudly against this to anyone who thinks the Patriot Act, and National Security Letters in particular, are a good idea.
posted by daq at 12:26 PM on November 7, 2005


To think, they went through all that trouble to find out that I read Mefi, when they could have just clicked on my posting history.
posted by Bugbread at 12:28 PM on November 7, 2005


"speak out loudly against this to anyone who thinks the Patriot Act, and National Security Letters in particular, are a good idea."

Or just because you hate the righties.
posted by mischief at 12:30 PM on November 7, 2005


The FBI is a bunch of--- adsfgrdtfhjn

NO CARRIER
posted by keswick at 12:31 PM on November 7, 2005


as Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)

KANSAS REPRESENT!
posted by geoff. at 12:34 PM on November 7, 2005


Funny, I would have thought a gross invasion of privacy like this -- surveilling nearly everyone who stayed in Vegas for a few days? -- would be a matter of concern to anyone interested in excessive government spending, which "the righties" used to be interested in. But don't worry, mischief, I know you're just trying to cloud the air.
posted by digaman at 12:34 PM on November 7, 2005


mischief writes "Or just because you hate the righties."

Or just because you got tired of quoting Ben Franklin to them.
posted by nkyad at 12:36 PM on November 7, 2005



Follow up
from the NYT.
posted by dougny at 12:38 PM on November 7, 2005


...But the FBI probably can't read Metafilter themselves. Rather frighteningly they are one of the most technically retarded agencies in government. (If anyone cares I know for a fact that the White House firewall shuts out MeFi).

I'd relax, they may have the data but they don't know what the hell to do with it, at least from what I gather chatting to agents in town. For instance, they still don't have an encrypted network for transmitting case files and spend a fortune on special secure FedEx shipments to pass info around the country, and not like recieving information faster than ground shipping is at all imperative to law enforcement. (In fact it looks like the only law enforcement agency with any tech savvy at all is the ATF). They're hiring private analysts as fast as they can but they still have no idea what to do with all their electronic data.
posted by Heminator at 12:38 PM on November 7, 2005


I am surprised that the righties are doing this, cuz government surveillance is more from the province of the lefties.

$5 is 'excessive government spending'? Well, yeah, but we have bigger fish to fry than worrying about Rothko's real-world occupation. Rothko is the resident narc, nicht wahr? ;-P

And if Rothko isn't our FBI agent, who is? dios? amberglow? Matt Haughey?
posted by mischief at 12:39 PM on November 7, 2005


Hey, if you're innocent you've got nothing to hide.
posted by mullingitover at 12:39 PM on November 7, 2005


(If anyone cares I know for a fact that the White House firewall shuts out MeFi).

Dish. NOW.
posted by keswick at 12:40 PM on November 7, 2005


Heminator : "If anyone cares I know for a fact that the White House firewall shuts out MeFi"

Not a challenge, just a question: How do you know?
posted by Bugbread at 12:42 PM on November 7, 2005


I am surprised that the righties are doing this, cuz government surveillance is more from the province of the lefties.
posted by mischief


Just out of curiosity, why would you say this? I thought that most "lefties" were the card-carrying-members-of-the-ACLU types. (I know I am.) And I thought that the ACLU was pretty much against governmental surveillance, free speech zones, etc.

On what are you basing this odd statement of yours?
posted by leftcoastbob at 12:43 PM on November 7, 2005


Rothko is the resident narc, nicht wahr? ;-P

Mischief, wtf? Put down the keyboard and step away from the monitor, punk.
posted by Rothko at 12:45 PM on November 7, 2005


Cause we lefties are crazy paranoid freaks. If we think it's the other side that's part of the conspiracy, it's because we are actually the conspiracy and are just unwilling to admit it.
posted by panoptican at 12:46 PM on November 7, 2005


I think we are all part of of a big constiparacy.
posted by srboisvert at 12:48 PM on November 7, 2005


panoptican--I guess that makes as much sense as any explanation mischief could come up with.
posted by leftcoastbob at 12:48 PM on November 7, 2005


It's not the righties' province because before Shrub came along, the righties' were a) pretty much against any government interference in private lives, and b) their distaste for large government and excessive spending.

Then Shrub came along and turned conservativism on its head. ACLU only became active against governmental surveillance and free speech zones after Shrub became pres, before that ACLU was primarily a civil rights vehicle.

Surveillance is more in line with leftie attitudes because of their love for tax and spend, moreso their love for making sure they get every last penny out of businesses and citizens.
posted by mischief at 12:51 PM on November 7, 2005


“Or just because you hate the righties.
posted by mischief at 12:30 PM PST on November 7 [!]
Or just because you got tired of quoting Ben Franklin to them.
posted by nkyad at 12:36 PM PST on November 7 [!]”


Yeah, I like to read stuff...huh huh....

repeat from article:
"As a conservative," he said, "I really resent an administration that calls itself conservative taking the position that the burden is on the citizen to show the government has abused power, and otherwise shut up and comply."


That said, frikkin finally.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:52 PM on November 7, 2005


Also, in turning conservativism on its head, Shrub likewise managed to turn liberalism completely over as well.
posted by mischief at 12:54 PM on November 7, 2005


Hey everyone, you too can be a loyal citizen.
posted by lalochezia at 12:54 PM on November 7, 2005


Hey! Maybe I'm the narc! heheh
posted by mischief at 12:55 PM on November 7, 2005


Anyone want aluminum foil? I've been buying it in bulk.
posted by nervousfritz at 12:58 PM on November 7, 2005


This is starting to feel like a PKDick novel.
posted by mischief at 1:01 PM on November 7, 2005


What happens in Vegas, doesn't necessarily stay in Vegas. Here is the link to a local report at the time. The FBI then said that they were only collecting data from hotels and airlines, when in fact they also collected car rental information and storage center rental information.

And the records are kept forever. The FBI does not need to destroy them at any time in the future.

McCarthyism is back folks. We need to stop this.
posted by SirOmega at 1:10 PM on November 7, 2005


Seriously, I'd be a lot more scared that the FBI has access to any large bank of sludge data (not where I surf, but where everybody surfs? Sounds easy to sift through) if they and the CIA seemed to have even had a clue that 9/11 was about to happen, or if they had even guessed that the Berlin Wall might come down when it did, etc. etc. etc.

It seems like the FBI is good a specific cases after a crime has been committed, but they waste too much time spying on churches in poor neighborhoods and crap like that to have a statistically significant chance of catching actual terrorists or criminals.

But I hope they get a chuckle out of the crap I look at on the internet.
posted by illovich at 1:11 PM on November 7, 2005


Herminator: ...the FBI... are one of the most technically retarded agencies in government. ...they may have the data but they don't know what the hell to do with it... They're hiring private analysts as fast as they can but they still have no idea what to do with all their electronic data.

Could it be that this very problem is where this bit comes in?
In late 2003, the Bush administration reversed a long-standing policy requiring agents to destroy their files on innocent American citizens, companies and residents when investigations closed. Late last month, President Bush signed Executive Order 13388, expanding access to those files for "state, local and tribal" governments and for "appropriate private sector entities," which are not defined.
In the same way that the vote-counters determine the outcome of an election, it's surely the people storing, sifting, filtering, and analyzing all this data who decide what it all means. It looks like the stage is set for private industry to blaze new trails into the world of law enforcement.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:16 PM on November 7, 2005


Just out of curiosity, why would you say this? I thought that most "lefties" were the card-carrying-members-of-the-ACLU types
posted by leftcoastbob at 12:43 PM PST on November 7 [!]

I have to go with mischeif on that.

If we’re equating “lefties” with ACLU (oddly, I give them money, and I’d be a “righty” to many eyes) we’d have to say “lefties” are “Democrats” and elected “Clinton” who created the “National Economic Council” almost immediately (1993) and the capabilities of “ECHELON” which - as one example - had the FBI and the NSA bugging the “Asian/Pacific Economic Conference” in Seattle.
Clinton also used something called “Executive Order 12949” to boost the physical search powers of the foreign intelligence surveilance court and authorized the Atty Gen to to approve physical searches, without a court order, to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods up to one year, if the Attorney General makes the certifications required by FISA and allowed for evidence gathered in FISA surveillance and searches to be used in criminal proceedings. And sealed any info regarding the order and evidence obtained under the order as classified so joe citizen can’t review the evidence against them and their attorneys can’t see the search warrants.
(PATRIOT ACT who?)



Also someone called “Janet Reno” (sort of the left-wing version of Gonzales - except she burned children instead of advocated torture, which is ok) opposed the exchange of encryption technology on the Internet (before it was the internets) and worked to establish the Federal Intrusion Detection Network which monitored civilian network traffic.



Say....anyone remember it was Tipper Gore who was in the PMRC? Anyone? Nah, those folks never do anything wrong. It was those damned right wingers trying to label record albums. (Not that there weren’t some involved).


But never mind. “Lefties” are all about the freedom.


/on preview: Oh yeah? YOUR side isn’t any better! Lookit the...etc.
Note for clarification: the “righties” are not my side. I’d be a conservative if it still meant what it was supposed to mean.


No offense leftcoastbob, lotsa people make the mistake of equating the whole labor/grassroots/anti-corporate/ACLU/ etc. schtick with the Dems. Much like people who are Repubs think they will get rich by osmosis. It’s a con.


"It looks like the stage is set for private industry to blaze new trails into the world of law enforcement."
posted by Western Infidels at 1:16 PM PST on November 7 [!]


The stage has been being set for quite some time now.
From the looks of things I'd say the first act is already underway.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:19 PM on November 7, 2005


mischief : "It's not the righties' province because before Shrub came along"

All my youth politics I learned from the Dead Kennedys, and they certainly presented spying on people as a Reagan thing. McCarthy was also a Republican during the Red Scare (but a Democrat before that).
posted by Bugbread at 1:20 PM on November 7, 2005


So, wait, according to Illovich and Herminator, this isn't a worry because the government is incompetent, and that's a good thing? How about we try limiting the powers of government and striving for a competent one? How's that sound?
posted by klangklangston at 1:20 PM on November 7, 2005


But, to be clear, I'm not saying the lefties have always been against spying on citizens. Just that it wasn't Shrub who ushered in the whole "righties want to spy" thing. As far back as I can remember, our government has wanted to spy on people, regardless of which end of the political spectrum was in charge.
posted by Bugbread at 1:22 PM on November 7, 2005


"As far back as I can remember, our government has wanted to spy on people, regardless of which end of the political spectrum was in charge."

I'll go along with that.
posted by mischief at 1:26 PM on November 7, 2005


Heminator's point is the one that always comforts me: Yes, somewhere out there is a computer monitoring all internet and telecommunications traffic. Unfortunately, there's no way in the world anyone can analyze all that data without getting bored out of their skulls. Same goes for surveillance cameras - sure, they're everywhere, but who actually wants to watch all those screens?

Even computers are no help: If you tried to only analyze data that contained the key words "terrorist" or "bomb", you'd still be overwhelmed. Until someone invents true AI, privacy is relatively assured.

Unless someone fingers you. Then you're screwed.
posted by fungible at 1:27 PM on November 7, 2005


/me fingers Dennis or Denise, depending on what he/she is wearing today
posted by mischief at 1:32 PM on November 7, 2005


"The FBI knows you're reading MetaFilter."

Ah, but does the FBI know I masturbate while reading it?

I mean, did they know before now?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:32 PM on November 7, 2005


"Justice Department officials noted frequently this year that Inspector General Glenn A. Fine reports twice a year on abuses of the Patriot Act and has yet to substantiate any complaint. (One investigation is pending.) Fine advertises his role, but there is a puzzle built into the mandate. Under what scenario could a person protest a search of his personal records if he is never notified?"

Just to be on the safe side, everyone who has done nothing wrong should submit a complaint to the Inspector General that the Patriot Act was used to unjustly acquire their personal information. It's the only way to be sure that the potential abuse gets investigated.
posted by justkevin at 1:32 PM on November 7, 2005


I just don't think Al Gore would have watched the Patriot Act go through. If terrorism is cancer killing the U.S., the Patriot Act is some incredibly strong chemotherapy.
posted by nervousfritz at 1:32 PM on November 7, 2005


Fingers you for what? Reading a book from a library? The point of the article, if one has read it, is that when data is gathered on citizens who may have made a phone call once to someone in a long chain of investigations, AND the data is kept around forever, AND the data is mined systematically, AND the data is shared with dozens of government agencies and undisclosed "private entities" by presidential order, AND corellated with website-visting habits and buying habits and living habits... you get the idea. The Glibness Index is running a little high for the topic under consideration.
posted by digaman at 1:32 PM on November 7, 2005


illovich: It seems like the FBI is good a specific cases after a crime has been committed...

If you have something in mind, I'd love to hear about it. My own (mostly vicarious) experience with the FBI left me unimpressed. What case / incident / situation has the FBI done a truly outstanding job with - say, in the last 20 years?

I'm not trying to imply that the FBI is a clueless bunch of wannabees, or anything like that. I'm sure there are individual agents who work hard and want nothing more than to do a good job. But as an organization, what has the FBI demonstrated an aptitude for?
posted by Western Infidels at 1:33 PM on November 7, 2005


"I just don't think Al Gore would have watched the Patriot Act go through."

No, his solution would probably have been much worse. ;-P
posted by mischief at 1:35 PM on November 7, 2005


Actually, given the state of US "Intelligence" they're probably over at MetalFilter.

fungible, you're right, no one can monitor all the traffic but if they have a particular need then its not so hard to go searching for it amongst all that data.
posted by fenriq at 1:36 PM on November 7, 2005


I fingered mischief.
posted by Rothko at 1:37 PM on November 7, 2005


Like Al-Quaida, the FBI is attacking us because they hate our freedom.
posted by Slothrup at 1:37 PM on November 7, 2005


I don't think any of these issues will be solved until we lose the idea of government protecting us from anything. We expect the government to protect us from terrorists, which reasonably isn't 100% possible. But they've been given that mandate and to do that they need control all information,everywhere. Also impossible. But god bless 'em, they sure do try.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:38 PM on November 7, 2005


The point of the article, if one has read it, is that when data is gathered on citizens who may have made a phone call once to someone in a long chain of investigations, AND the data is kept around forever, AND the data is mined systematically, AND the data is shared with dozens of government agencies and undisclosed "private entities" by presidential order, AND correlated with website-visting habits and buying habits and living habits...

If you're worried about that, stop using credit cards (at least when you're buying your tinfoil).
posted by SweetJesus at 1:38 PM on November 7, 2005


*puts on sunglasses, adjusts shoulder holster, leans against post*
posted by quonsar at 1:40 PM on November 7, 2005


mischief: It's not the righties' province because before Shrub came along, the righties' were a) pretty much against any government interference in private lives, and b) their distaste for large government and excessive spending.

Such careless use of "right" and "left"!

The real difference between "right" and "left" on matters of personal freedom seems to me ot be that on the right, they're frightfully concerned with security in ownership, and on the left, they're frightfully concerned with security in their persons.

Put another way: One side would trump personal rights with property rights; the other wout trump propery rights with personal rights.

That's why liberals and libertarians have such a hard time working together toward common interests for very long.
posted by lodurr at 1:44 PM on November 7, 2005


Late last month, President Bush signed Executive Order 13388, expanding access to those files for "state, local and tribal" governments and for "appropriate private sector entities," which are not defined.

Something tells me this is somehow going to backfire. It isn't as though Bush is Mr. Popular right now. If people in his own party want to be re-elected, they should avoid the Admin. like the plague.
posted by j-urb at 1:44 PM on November 7, 2005


ACLU only became active against governmental surveillance and free speech zones after Shrub became pres, before that ACLU was primarily a civil rights vehicle.

Examples, please. The ACLU has always been in favor of free speech (Skokie, anyone?) and against government surveillance.

“lefties” are “Democrats” and elected “Clinton” who created the “National Economic Council” almost immediately

Clinton was a "centrist". Any attempt to describe him as some kind of "leftist" says volumes about your personal beliefs.

McCarthyism is back folks

This looks much more dangerous to me.
posted by Slothrup at 1:44 PM on November 7, 2005


Indeed, Slothrup.
posted by digaman at 1:47 PM on November 7, 2005


But as an organization, what has the FBI demonstrated an aptitude for?

Uhm, they hunt down aliens, don't they? Yeah, put that in yer pipe and smoke it.
posted by cmonkey at 1:48 PM on November 7, 2005


"free speech" is different from "free speech zones". The former is protected by the first amendment; the latter is some convoluted concept.
posted by mischief at 1:50 PM on November 7, 2005


Why would anyone trust that the capabilities of the FBI, NSA, CIA, ATF (insert various Other Government Agencies) as stated by an agent would be true?
posted by tzelig at 1:52 PM on November 7, 2005


"Clinton was a "centrist". Any attempt to describe him as some kind of "leftist" says volumes about your personal beliefs.

Shrub is also a centrist. Any attempt to describe him as some kind of 'rightist' says volumes about your personal beliefs. That Gore lost to such a complete and utter idiot speaks volumes about how much more fucked up the democrats are than are the republicans.
posted by mischief at 1:53 PM on November 7, 2005


Shrub is also a centrist. Any attempt to describe him as some kind of 'rightist' says volumes about your personal beliefs.

Maybe -- but if so, it's a different kind of centrism than that identified with Clinton, who actively sought positions to the right of the Democrats in Congress.

That Gore lost to such a complete and utter idiot speaks volumes about how much more fucked up the democrats are than are the republicans.

Boy you got that right.
posted by Slothrup at 1:56 PM on November 7, 2005


Centrist can describe a lot of things.
posted by mischief at 1:59 PM on November 7, 2005


Note to FBI:

ooOoo
posted by JKevinKing at 2:01 PM on November 7, 2005


That Gore lost to such a complete and utter idiot speaks volumes about how much more fucked up the democrats are than are the republicans.

Gore didn't lose. It was a tie. /otto
posted by Rothko at 2:06 PM on November 7, 2005


All this argument about "lefties" vs "righties" in the major American political parties. In the global political left/right spectrum the Democrats and Republicans are about as far apart as two peas in a pod. Even Canada has more diversity in our major political parties than the US does, and we're nothing compared to many European countries.

That's not to say there isn't more diversity withing the American public, but that sure isn't represented in your politicians.
posted by raedyn at 2:10 PM on November 7, 2005


The FBI is just trying to catch up on current events via MeFi's handy new "newsfilter" tag.
posted by tpl1212 at 2:23 PM on November 7, 2005


Maybe I'm the narc

No, I am Spartacus!

uh, wait...
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:33 PM on November 7, 2005


Heminator : "If anyone cares I know for a fact that the White House firewall shuts out MeFi"

Not a challenge, just a question: How do you know?


He's using their open WiFi access point.
posted by phearlez at 2:40 PM on November 7, 2005


Apropros of not much else, I heard a rumor that Bush was watching old reruns of the West Wing to try and figure out what to do next.
posted by fenriq at 2:42 PM on November 7, 2005


I just don't think Al Gore would have watched the Patriot Act go through.
posted by nervousfritz at 1:32 PM PST on November 7 [!]


Why wouldn't he have? I don't see any evidence he was a "better man."
I see no reason he would have either, nervousfritz.
But if all things remained equal excepting that he was president during 9/11....

Is "shit storm" hyphenated?



Clinton was a "centrist". Any attempt to describe him as
some kind of "leftist" says volumes about your personal beliefs.
posted by Slothrup at 1:44 PM PST on November 7 [!]



I remember this one time, I wanted to post a reply to some shithead on Mefi instead of thinking or anything so I isolated one sentence affirmed the consequent and generalized that all, even non-serious or for sake of example, attempts justified an ad hominem circumstantial attack on this guy's personal beliefs instead of noticing that his statement was predicated on an "if" statement made by someone else and I just drained all the compexity out of it like how all sorts of stuff was in quotes and qualified for
humorous effect instead of comprehending or even really reading where the guy was coming from and so negated the desire on his part to put any extra effort into his posts like humor or wry wit or commonality of experiance.

....I looked totally cool.


It's the only way to be sure that the potential abuse gets investigated.
posted by justkevin at 1:32 PM PST on November 7 [!]


Nuke the site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

/see what I did there? I noticed what he posted and I added something humorous from pop culture to it in a manner often referred to as "over the top."



In the global political left/right spectrum the Democrats and Republicans are about as far apart as two peas in a pod.
posted by raedyn at 2:10 PM PST on November 7 [!]


I agree raedyn. I would add that the depth behind the two are about the same as well. What happened under Clinton seems to be about the same as what happened under Bush so far in terms of civil liberties.

I dunno, looks to me like the money is going in different pockets. And I think too much emphasis is on the office of president as well, which is part of the problem here.
Too much executive branch. Not enough of the two houses. And very little representation on behalf of Joe Citizen.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:33 PM on November 7, 2005


the bureau's new authority to collect intimate facts about people who are not suspected of any wrongdoing

new authority? j. edgar hoover anyone? anyone?
posted by quonsar at 3:49 PM on November 7, 2005


As far as I'm concerned the FBI can fuck itself. Same goes for every Agent who needs to be called "Special."
posted by davy at 4:06 PM on November 7, 2005


Make lemonade. Post such fascinating stuff that the agents will forsake their starched shirts and ties for jeans and message T-shirts. Turn the upright square shouldered cops into round-shouldered pot-bellied web surfers hunched over keyboards, staying up way past bed time unable to sleep until the last scrap of MetaFilter/MetaTalk/Ask MetaFilter is read.
posted by Cranberry at 4:12 PM on November 7, 2005


Almost forgot: add a liink to MetaChat
posted by Cranberry at 4:14 PM on November 7, 2005


The document contains no data.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:27 PM on November 7, 2005


I haven't seen anyone bring up the problem of mistaken identity yet. We've all seen how easy it is for innocent people to suddenly find themselves on a 'no-fly list'. They eventually find out when they try to travel and can then initiate corrective actions.

If, however, the victims of such bureaucratic blunder are not allowed to know if they are erroneously linked to some 'bad guy' and further, if no one is allowed to talk about it, then that person will spend the rest of his/her life in a nightmare of ever increasing proportions.

Quonsar (welcome back) nailed it when he reminded us about Hoover. It is well known that he kept dossiers on most important pols so that he could blackmail them into favoring his FBI. What kind of pressure might be applied by a Rove-driven administration on political foes or deemed 'enemies' given easy access to such a database?
posted by RMALCOLM at 4:33 PM on November 7, 2005


The FBI computer system is managed by an outside firm, that has it's fingers in many pies, the least of which would be mine. The FBI gathers info that is fed into the systems of huge private for profit corporations, that can use the info however they like. The problem here is that our government does seem to be several large corporations, and their corporation friends. There has been no privacy for some time now. The private sector knows exactly as much about us as they want to and their information has always been for sale to the US government, handling inquiries, that have been illegal for government to make.

I always wondered why people sleep in pajamas, now I realize they know exactly how private things are. Maybe those women in burkas and huts have some of the only privacy left.
posted by Oyéah at 5:14 PM on November 7, 2005


What kind of pressure might be applied by a Rove-driven administration on political foes or deemed 'enemies' given easy access to such a database?
posted by RMALCOLM at 4:33 PM PST on November 7 [!]


Also, is there quid pro quo? Could someone who had - something - on Rove, have access to that apparatus?

Of course what could anyone have had on J. Edgar Hoover?

Or could the information be shared with administration friendly corporations?

What bothers me about Enron and other corporate scandals is not simply the malice, but the amount of forethought that went into it.
One does not gain that amount of power and wealth by being sloppy.

....which perhaps explains why I don't have much power or wealth. At least I don't wear a dress. (It's a kilt!)
posted by Smedleyman at 5:15 PM on November 7, 2005


Oyéah, stop reading my mind.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:16 PM on November 7, 2005


"As a conservative," he said, "I really resent an administration that calls itself conservative taking the position that the burden is on the citizen to show the government has abused power, and otherwise shut up and comply."
posted by angry modem at 5:41 PM on November 7, 2005


Can we just clear up this Hoover wore a dress crap? It's never been proven to any degree and according to most sources is highly unlikely (but even if he did - so fucking what? He should be hated for his anti-civil rights activities and general failures against organised crime rather than a non-existant prediliction for women's clothing.).
posted by longbaugh at 6:15 PM on November 7, 2005


Longbaugh,

Ultimately, it doesn't make a difference if Hoover wore a dress. It's his own business. However, it's a joyful thought because a) he wouldn't have thought the same about us and b) it's funny for the same reason that Bill O'Reily's phone sex scandal is funny: the guy is a righteous asshole and it's always good to take those people down a peg (a whole peg!) and put their human weaknesses on display.

But why the hell are you sticking up for Hoover about anything? I mean, as far as some characters go, it's perfectly alright to trample their memories with malicious lies, myths, and outright falsehoods. I mean, everyone knows that Joe McCarthy ate out of the litterbox. It is so a fact; just look it up.
posted by Jon-o at 7:42 PM on November 7, 2005


.
posted by kozad at 7:49 PM on November 7, 2005


I dunno, I've just assumed from early childhood on that the Feds track and monitor, if sporadically, everything I'm doing, from financial transactions to phone calls to chat boards. This seems mild compared to what I think is *really* going on.
posted by postmodernmillie at 9:12 PM on November 7, 2005


Oooh, that sounded sort of conspiracy theorist, and I'm not quite a MindGuard beanie-type person. Well, I'm sure they're not interested in everything I'm doing, but some things, sure.
posted by postmodernmillie at 9:18 PM on November 7, 2005


Do they know I bought a pound of black powder last week?
Do they know I've fitted my hunting bows with new strings and have frequented the public archery range over the last month and a half?
Do they know that I primarially bid on knives on Ebay?
Combine that with what I post here, and it looks like they've got quite a case to take me out of Society. For the good of the rest of you, of course.
posted by Balisong at 9:33 PM on November 7, 2005


I've always wondered if the Iowa tests in elementary school and other achievement tests mark you as being worthy of ongoing surveillance should you happen to score really high. I mean, the smartest people in the population are the ones to watch, right?
posted by postmodernmillie at 10:16 PM on November 7, 2005


I dunno longbaugh, whether he wore dresses or not somebody had something on him. Otherwise Momo wouldn't have gotten away with as much as he did.


Well, I'm sure they're not interested in everything I'm doing, but some things, sure.
posted by postmodernmillie at 9:18 PM PST on November 7 [!]


I was talking to a buddy of mine about surveillance and such. His words of wisdom: "What are they going to do? Watch me jerk off?"


Really, we can only hope.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:25 AM on November 8, 2005


I am surprised that the righties are doing this, cuz government surveillance is more from the province of the lefties.

Left and Right have nothing to do with this. Government is a beast that hungers for power and control over the public it is supposed to serve, regardless of the faction that is currently in favor.
posted by moonbiter at 4:18 AM on November 8, 2005


justkevin writes "Just to be on the safe side, everyone who has done nothing wrong should submit a complaint to the Inspector General that the Patriot Act was used to unjustly acquire their personal information."

Meh. I'd bet dollars-to-donuts that such complaints quickly make it to the rounded filing cabinet these days.
posted by clevershark at 5:41 AM on November 8, 2005


you folk seem remarkably uninformed about hoover, a gay-hating gay man who promoted his lover to second in command, used federal funds to improve his home, and gathered an immense amount of dirt on everyone he could, and used it viciously to destroy his enemies and acheive his own goals. perhaps the most feared man in washington history, he befriended mobsters and killers and some speculate that he was easy on organized crime because they had photographic proof of his proclivities. the man was truly a monster, and the organization he molded was a dangerous and corrupt secret police, its image a product of blatant PR and media manipulation. i don't know what it is now, beyond something to be prudently suspicious of...
posted by quonsar at 10:59 AM on November 8, 2005


(looks out from cafe window, makes a check mark by 'agent quonsar')
posted by fleacircus at 12:04 PM on November 8, 2005


Crooks and Liars has a News Hour interview with Barton Gellman, the reporter who wrote the story.

In 2001, the Associated Press reported that the FBI had lost "more than 180 computers...along with some 450 weapons."
posted by kirkaracha at 12:41 PM on November 8, 2005


The FBI knows you're reading MetaFilter. [WashPost link]

Oh noes! That means they know my terrible secret: that every single MeFi account...is a sock puppet...of mine!
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:54 PM on November 8, 2005


“you folk seem remarkably uninformed about hoover... the man was truly a monster”
posted by quonsar at 10:59 AM PST on November 8 [!]


Inept too. Didn’t he - when it was revealed he’d never personally make an arrest, go out to arrest a guy and forget handcuffs? I understand “Speed” had to take his tie off to tie up the arrestee’s hands.
Who could make that stuff up?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:40 PM on November 8, 2005


they still have no idea what to do with all their electronic data

I can vouch for some of this. I used to be an operator working with NCIC, a database run by the FBI that holds law enforcement information on stolen stuff, wanted persons, missing persons, things like that. The thing uses 1960s technology. I am not exaggerating. I was amazed that the system functioned at all, really.
posted by beth at 11:00 AM on November 9, 2005


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