ACLU to Jim Comey: Welcome. Now Fix This.

Jim Comey has officially been in charge of the FBI for less than two weeks.

Today, in honor of Constitution Day, the ACLU just released a report showing how the FBI’s expanded mandate since 9/11 has led to Constitutional abuses.

Most of the details of the report have been reported here in depth. But the Big Data section includes some details I haven’t covered. It explains:

FBI collects Suspicious Activities Reports that duplicate — but lower the standard for — an existing database

Another major problem is that eGuardian effectively competes with another federal government SAR. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 established the Information Sharing Environment (ISE) to serve as the conduit for terrorism-related information sharing between state and local law enforcement and the federal government.114 A March 2013 Government Accountability Office report found that though the two programs share information between them, eGuardian uses a lower evidentiary threshold for inclusion of SARs, which creates risks and privacy problems.

The Government Accountability Office found that “many fusion centers have decided not to automatically share all of their ISE-SARs with eGuardian” because eGuardian doesn’t meet ISE standards.115 One fusion center said it would never provide SARs to eGuardian because of the fusion center’s privacy policy.116 The Government Accountability Office also found that the two systems “have overlapping goals and offer duplicative services.”117

FBI will soon have the equivalent of 20 pieces of intelligence on every American — and they share this broadly

An FBI budget request for fiscal year 2008 said the FBI had amassed databases containing 1.5 billion records, and two members of Congress described documents predicting the FBI would have 6 billion records by 2012, which they said would represent “20 separate ‘records’ for each man, woman and child in the United States.”119

[snip]

According to a 2012 Systems of Records Notice covering all FBI data warehouses, the information in these systems can be shared broadly, even with foreign entities and private companies, and for a multitude of law enforcement and non-law enforcement purposes.133

There’s far more in the report, chronicling the slow creep of abusive FBI techniques since 9/11.

Sadly, given that this has all been treated as legal, I doubt that Comey will do anything about it, even with ACLU’s demonstration that the dragnet has led FBI to miss real crimes.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

7 replies
  1. Citizen92 says:

    O/T

    Military security assumptions again in the news.

    DC Naval Yard shooter, as a contractor or Naval reservist, had a valid access ID that would get him in to most bases. And base security procedures require one only to present the badge. No technical screenings, mags, etc.

    Bradley Manning. Cleared as a soldier, given acces to endless sensitive files.

    What were the safeguards? Not weighted appropriately in face of the threat it seems.

  2. peasantparty says:

    Just found out the press conference will be held at 2:00 in front of the FBI building.

    Don’t really expect any changes. There are hidden hands that play the strings.

  3. jerryy says:

    Considering that the FBI has recently admitted ‘they’ were behind the attacks on the TOR network, along with the questions you are raising here, is there any effort underway to ask just what their purpose is these days?

    In the TOR attack they :

    Infiltrated computer systems in other countries.
    Planted malware on widespread numbers of computers in other counties.
    Ran a child porn operation.

    Think about the implications of all of that for a while… Due Process? The FBI retains stashes of child porn for its operations? Attacking other countries in civil matters as a matter of course (cyber attacks are supposed to be an act of war according to the admin)?

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