The Exigent Letter IG Report

Remember how I suggested that yesterday’s WaPo story on exigent letters might be an attempt to pre-empt the IG Report?

Well, here’s that IG Report.

I’m working on a longer post, but MadDog can’t wait, so consider this a working thread.

  1. MadDog says:

    Ta EW!

    MadDog has ants in his pants. *g*

    So in that case, I’ll re-post my last comment:

    On the page 4 Table of Contents of this document (Beware! 306 page PDF), the IG report describes something they call:

    …Hot Number [redacted]…

    In further reading (starting on page 93) about “Hot Number [redacted]“, I’m betting that the [redacted] word is “Trapping”.

    The character count seems to fit, and the context in the document describes a belief on the part of some DOJ folks that this fits under the “Pen Register Act” and these:

    …Pen registers…require court orders (pen/trap orders) and are issued for a fixed period of time, not to exceed 60 days…

    Further statements in the document show that the FBI/DOJ’s use of Hot Number Trapping without a court order are illegal and violate the Pen Register Act.

  2. bobschacht says:

    Interesting that the censorship starts in the table of contents, in the outline of Chapter Two, Section V.C., on “Community of Interest/Calling Circle [Censored(10)]”, consisting of 4 parts, each one with a partly censored title:
    1. Community of Interest [censored(10)]
    2. Community of Interest [censored(20+)] for the FBI
    3. Company A’s use of Community of Interest [censored(30+)]
    4. FBI Guidance on Community of Interest [censored(10)] Requests

    The numbers in parenthesis indicate my rough estimate of the number of letters in the censored word(s). This is perhaps the most heavily censored part of the TOC.

    Bob in AZ

    • MadDog says:

      …This is perhaps the most heavily censored part of the TOC…

      When you get to the actual sections that TOC for “Community of Interest/Calling Circle” describes, you’ll find that they are almost entirely redacted.

      I do believe there is something they don’t want us to know.

  3. MadDog says:

    Just jumping back and forth between the Table of Contents and specific sections.

    On page 5 of the TOC, there is “Section II – Seeking Reporters’ Telephone Records Without Required Approvals…”

    That actual section starts on page 102 and surprisingly, much is nonsensically redacted.

    I say “nonsensically” because both the NYT and WaPo, whose reporters were targets of the illegal snooping, both know exactly what articles generated the illegal snooping, know what dates the articles were published, who the reporters were, etcetera, etcetera.

    That said, there seem to be some “interesting” redactions that portend some highly illegal stuff (think TSP and driftnetting).

    Such as this on page 105:

    …On November 5, [stupid redaction], the case agent sent an e-mail asking another Special Agent in the [stupid redaction] Field Office to inquire, in the agent’s capacity as his squad’s liaison to the CAU (Note: that acronym stands for the Communications Analysis Unit of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division), whether the on-site communications service providers could obtain telephone toll records of U.S. persons making [real stupid redaction] calls [stupid redaction]. The case agent’s November 5 e-mail listed 12 [another stupid redaction] telephone numbers, 8 of which were identified in the e-mail as belonging to Washington Post reporters [multiple word stupid redaction] and Washington Post researcher [multiple word stupid redaction] and New York Times reporters [multiple word stupid redaction]

    So let me translate here:

    First, “real stupid redaction” = “any”.

    Second, “another stupid redaction” = “domestic”.

    Third, “multiple word stupid redaction” = the friggin’ names of the NYT and WaPo folks!

    I wonder what the Latin is for “redaction ad absurdum”?

    • emptywheel says:

      And we know the reporters’ names:

      The searches became public when Mueller, the FBI director, contacted top editors at the two newspapers in August 2008 and apologized for the breach of reporters’ phone records. The reporters were Ellen Nakashima of The Post, who had been based in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Raymond Bonner and Jane Perlez of the Times, who had also been working in Jakarta.

      • MadDog says:

        I wouldn’t be surprised if the DOJ/FBI began another investigation to determine who told the NYT and WaPo the actual names of the NYT and WaPo folks.

        And lo and behold, they found it was FBI Director Mueller, so they immediately classified the results of that investigation as a National Security secret. *g*

        Clowns…in really big clown shoes…driving really small clown cars! *g*

          • MadDog says:

            Actually now that I read further (page 114), the ever-present FBI General Counsel Valerie “It’s only a technical violation” Caproni was the initial confessor to the NYT and WaPo about the names.

            Mueller evidently was later (footnote 126 on page 115) in a separate phone call.

    • MsAnnaNOLA says:

      Ok did I how did I miss that the govt agencies have “on-site” communications service providers? Is that disturbing to anyone else?

      Am I reading this correctly that AT&T and their ilk have personnel at the FBI?

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Well, from totally out in left field, when I was reading a book about economics, some interesting facts leapt out. The focus was on economics, but when you tie it up with some of EW’s stuff, it’s pretty intriguing:

        “…Global Crossing even sought to build capacity trading deals with energy companies to pump up its balance sheet and meet Wall Street earnings expectations. …[meanwhile, it had inked deals for networks that it could not build, and was playing a lot of shell games…]…Government contracts were an important source of recurring revenue, so it was important for Global Crossing to wield its political influence not just for legislation but for much-needed contracts that politicians could help the company obtain. It thus appeared particularly strategic of Global Crossing to appoint former US [Sec Def] William Cohen to the board of directors on April 16, 2001. Two months after Cohen’s arrival, Global Crossing Government Markets, a unit of Global Crossings Ltd, announced it had been selected to by the US Dept of Defense (DOD) to provide an advanced area-wide network for its Defenses Research and Engineering Network (DREN). The three-year contract, valued at $400 million, required Global Crossing to design virtual private networks throughout the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, and other territories….

        ‘Global Crossing was set up by bean counters and financial lawyers, not people who cared about the regulatory issues of what they were doing. They set up a series of shell companies across Europe to evade American regulations,’ said Michael Nighan in … February 2003. ‘This became problematic when they bid for the DOD contract. They never should have been able to get to that point, because they weren’t even based in the US, but in Bermuda.’ Officers of the company needed to have certain security clearances that they didn’t have.”

        Nomi Prins, Other People’s Money, pp. 210-211 (pbk)
        Note that this is about economics, but it suggests the kinds of blurriness perversions that occur with crony capitalism. I don’t offer this as an explanation for your question, but as one data point in a very big mix.

        This may be partly due to crony capitalism, along with other factors that together explain how this might have occurred. If you don’t have people with security clearances, or if your section is a subsidiary based in — Bermuda, Caymans, or other tax havens — then all kinds of weirdness is likely to occur.

        And recall that companies like Global Crossing, before they imploded, were traded on the NASDAQ. And when you think, “NASDAQ” don’t forget to wonder whether Bernie Madoff was on its board at that time.

      • TarheelDem says:

        On-site to whom is the question. The NSA for example was hoovering up all calls off of international switches in San Francisco and no doubt elsewhere. The NSA was effectively onsite there.

        Federal agencies have contracted out their IT and communications functions. If there is a large enough volume of communications, there might be staff from the telecom company on site for support.

        The FBI issues warranted wiretaps on communications as a routine activity; likely there are telecom company personnel at FBI offices who expedite the implementation of the request and set up the monitoring equipment.

        Should you worry? Well in part about the technology. But more so about what you can’t see — the authorization process for using the technology.

  4. wohjr says:

    There’s a sentence on page 28 (41 of the pdf) that implies that these letters were only used for searches that were “responsive” in some way, meaning, I think, that this 700+ number is way less than the actual number of searches conducted.

  5. bobschacht says:

    MsAnnaNOLA @ 14 [standard comment formatting features not available because my browser is hung up trying to download something in one of the sidebars]:

    “Am I reading this correctly that AT&T and their ilk have personnel at the FBI?”

    Of course. Let me explain. For decades (i.e., going back Before Bush II), the FBI, IIRC, has been trying to upgrade its computer system, without success. Their IT staff must be one of the most ineffective and incompetent IT organizations in the Federal Government, except possibly for the group of nincompoops “responsible” for archiving the emails of the Bush administration. Given that track record, you don’t expect that the FBI would have on staff people capable of running the vast hoovering operation they were doing, do you?

    Bob in AZ

  6. alabama says:

    “A mob is a mob, whether made up of Government officials acting under instructions from the Department of Justice, or of criminals and loafers and the vicious classes.”

    This is a good moment to celebrate two centenaries at once–those of Hoover’s FBI, and of Roger Baldwin’s ACLU.

    It all starts the Palmer Raids of 1918 and after, in which the DOJ was busily pursuing and deporting the likes of Emma Goldman. Baldwin responded by chartering the ACLU. The citation above comes from a Boston judge, George (?) Anderson, who threw out the DOJ’s charges–into the bin of a garbage truck that was idling outside his courthouse (or so I like to think, though Wikipedia doesn’t say this).

    The technology has changed, but since the FBI cannot keep up with technology–evidence that the FBI, like Freud’s Unconscious, doesn’t experience the passage of time–it will surely overlook the centenary of its own founding.

  7. nusayler says:

    Do we need any further proof that a) These guys are not exactly mental giants but more like indulged brats playing cops and robbers and if we’re counting on their brilliant work to keep us safe we might as well all get measured for keffiyehs and chadors b) The vaunted “safe guards and controls” are meaningless invitations to corruption?