Jon Tester: Get Out of My Trash

Jon Tester is, to the best of my knowledge, the first member of Congress to complain about FBI’s new investigative guidelines allowing agents to–among other thing–search potential informants’ trash.

As a strong believer in government accountability and person privacy rights, I find it unacceptable that you would lower the threshold further for engaging in surveillance on Americans who are not suspected of criminal wrongdoing. It is unconscionable for FBI to pursue policies that allow agents to search commercial or law enforcement databases–or even an individuals garbage–without adequate justification and proper record-keeping. I ask you to retain your current protocol, where agents must open such inquiries with due diligence before they can search for information. Until law enforcement agents have reason to investigate any American, it is unacceptable for those agents to cast a wide, non-specific net when they are evaluating a target as a potential informant.

I guess the other 534 members of Congress have no problem with the FBI rifling through their trash.

60 replies
  1. DWBartoo says:

    No “people” or no “problem”?

    Good on Senator Testor, for this, at least.

    We’ll have to wait and see if any other members of Congress, especially Dems, object.

    And, if they do object, then what they actually … wait for it … DO about their objection.

    Two differnt things.

    Ought to be exciting.

    Prolly take twenty minutes or so.

    Howdy Doody there, Members of Congress, got any thoughts, any reservations about ANY of this?

    Which one of you once said that the people ” …don’t know the half of it.”?

    Wanna share?

    If not … then why not?

    Cat got yer tongue or is “national security” and “endless war” involved?

    Oh wait, this is the “best Congress money can buy” and it’s “owned by the banks” … If there weren’t so many millionaires in Congress, I’d sure be worried that too many may have been “compromi$ed” … ain’t talkin’ hot-dog weiners here, mind ya, just simple collu$ion, “legal” bribery, and cunning complicity. Ya know, is Congre$$ confused, stupid, or is it boldly complicit?

    Never mind …

    Ain’t “Representative Democracy” a grand thing?

    What does that hand-writing on the wall say, you know, the scribbling beneath the big motto which reads “God is Love” …?

    Muh country, its “leadership” right, wrong, drunk, sober, or completely, psychopathically insane … and its people, deserve better, far better.


  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    WTF is the FBI not doing while its pouring through the trash of potential, rather than actual criminal suspects? Is all this just cover for populating the database and gleaning oppo research from any resource imaginable? And just who does this administration consider its most politically threatening opponents? Not Republicans, surely.

    • bobschacht says:

      I think I understand and agree with the point you’re making, but isn’t the phrase “potential criminal suspects” redundant? To what are we to oppose “potential suspects”? Actual suspects? What is the difference? Are “actual suspects” being actively investigated, while “potential suspects” are not currently being investigated?

      Bob in AZ

      • DWBartoo says:

        But Bob, the beauty of it is that “potential criminal suspects” includes everybody who is NOT on the “inside”. WHEN suspects are investigfated, if ever, hardly matters, as it is the potential of the thing, you know, for private contractors and the appropriate government agencies, looking forward, which is its genius.

        It is all encompassing, how “moral” that compass is … being entirely irrelevant … as is any semantic accuracy, which would only confusulate matters for the “in” crowd.

        You will recall GW’s most famous words, “You are either with us or against us.” which is, of course, known as the classic “argument with the big stick”.

        Following such a huge “change”, a “paradigm shift”, as the political class is wont to remind us … “After nine-eleven, EVERYTHING changed!!!”, things must be kept simple as “they” stick it to the rest of us, every one of whom (that’s “us”) being a potential threat to … well … to “something”.

        Remember, if you’ve done nothing wrong, then you’ve no need to fear ANY scrutiny, any time, or anywhere. In point of actual fact, you should be very proud that our great nation’s astute leadership brooks no dissention and tolerates no backwards whining and foot-dragging.

        That is why we are the champions of the world.

        I hope that satisfactorily clears up any lingering questions or doubts which you seem to persist, somewhat overmuch, upon having …


      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The distinction is between potential suspects (all of us) and actual criminal suspects about whom there is probable cause to warrant a search or to make it a reasonable use of police time to sift material someone has thrown away.

        The FBI and other federal spy agencies have invested huge sums in developing s/w to troll and sift its data bases. Since they rely on statistical inferences, they need as large a data base as possible in order to discern patterns and to make predictions.

        None of that relates to actual criminal conduct, the investigation of which is considered old hat, barely suitable for local law enforcement. No, the new meme is to prevent crime, which requires knowing the behavior that inevitably or even possibly precedes it.

        Access to the data that would document it – which we ridiculously generate by allowing cars, cell phones, pda’s, computers, cable connections and what not to track our behavior minute to minute – requires tossing the Fourth Amendment and so it’s been tossed. That it has been will be slowly leaked until its a commonplace and goes unchallenged except by extremists and literalists, the kind who would still read a book in some futurist Star Trek world of digital only data. There is a parallel process that accompanies that. It entails similar leaks regarding how absurd it is for a consumer to expect any privacy at all. Absent a “reasonable expectation of privacy”, there’s no penalty for invading it.

        • DWBartoo says:

          Superb assessment of “where” we are “at”.

          Not tomorrow, not next week or next month … but right now.

          I’m thinking that Zinn’s suggestions and example ought to be reviewed daily, by everyone, … for the duration …

          And those who meet here would be wise to heed your suggestions, as well.


    • NMvoiceofreason says:

      [Under settled law, discarded garbage placed on the side of the street for pickup does not fall within any recognized privacy interest protected by the Fourth Amendment. See California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35, 40-42 (1988); United States v. Kramer, 711 F.2d 789, 792 (7th Cir. 1983); United States v. Crowell, 586 F.2d 1020, 1025 (4th Cir. 1978). When someone puts trash out for collection, he knows someone else (usually a total stranger) will be taking the garbage away — hopefully never to be seen again. An individual places “refuse at the curb for the express purpose of conveying it to a third party, the trash collector,” who might himself sort “through [the] trash or [permit] others, such as the police, to do so.” Greenwood, 486 U.S. at 40. When left by the side of the road, trash becomes “readily accessible to animals, children, scavengers, snoops, and other members of the public.”]
      Commonwealth v. Bryant, Record No. 2715-04-1 (VA 5/3/2005) (Va, 2005)

      Nothing to see here. Law enforcement doing what law enforcement does – and has done- for decades.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I’m quite sure my comment was scathing about the idea that trolling for real and virtual trash among the millions, about which the FBI has no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, is a reasonable use of scarce and expensive federal investigatory and prosecutorial time. It is not.

  3. Deep Harm says:

    Overall, one gets the impression from current policies that the sole purpose of the administration is to soften up Americans for a future corporate dictatorship.

    • marksb says:

      I’ve kinda’ been wondering the same thing. What else explains all this?
      And if it’s not planned, then we are sooooo stupid.

    • bluewombat says:

      Overall, one gets the impression from current policies that the sole purpose of the administration is to soften up Americans for a future corporate dictatorship.


  4. Jeff Kaye says:

    Are you going to write on Patrick Fitzgerald running the investigation into the Midwest union/antiwar activists?

    Article at the Washington Post:

    FBI agents took box after box of address books, family calendars, artwork and personal letters in their 10-hour raid in September of the century-old house shared by Stephanie Weiner and her husband….

    The search was part of a mysterious, ongoing nationwide terrorism investigation with an unusual target: prominent peace activists and politically active labor organizers.

    The probe — involving subpoenas to 23 people and raids of seven homes last fall — has triggered a high-powered protest against the Department of Justice and, in the process, could create some political discomfort for President Obama with his union supporters as he gears up for his reelection campaign….

    Those who have been subpoenaed, most of them non-Muslim, include clerical workers, educators and in one case a stay-at-home dad. Some are lesbian couples with young children — a point apparently noted by investigators, who infiltrated the activists’ circle with an undercover officer presenting herself as a lesbian mother.

    All 23 of the activists invoked their right not to testify before a grand jury, defying U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, whose office is spearheading the investigation.

    I’d write something but have only this quick break to post comment…

  5. orionATL says:

    good for senator tester.

    i think he and sen baucus are reflecting the sentiments, the wise sentiments i would add, of montana’s citizens.

  6. MadDog says:

    OT – Just started reading some ACLU document dump material from late last week:

    Torture Documents Released 12/15/2009: OLC Miscellaneous Batch

    On page 14 of this 79 page PDF, this OLC document was new to me and not available at OLC’s website:

    …Memorandum for William J. Haynes Il, General Counsel, Department of Defense, from John C. Yoo, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, Re: Whether U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan are Legally Obligated to Prevent Certain Conduct by Others (Dec. 11,2001)…

    Additionally, the ACLU’s document dump also included this:

    ACLU Receives Documents Pertaining to the CIA’s “High Value Detainee” Program on 10/15/2010

    • MadDog says:

      While reading through the ACLU OLC document dump and also scanning the OLC website for some of the mentioned opinions, I started reading this John Yoo OLC War Powers opinion from September 25, 2001:

      The President’s Constitutional Authority To Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorists And Nations Supporting Them

      The President may deploy military force preemptively against terrorist organizations or the States that harbor or support them, whether or not they can be linked to the specific terrorist incidents of September 11

      (My Bold)

      As far as I can tell, this Yoo OLC opinion is still in effect and has not been withdrawn by the Obama Administration.

      I wonder if the Obama Administration is using this Yoo opinion as the central basis for ignoring the War Powers Resolution with regard to our actions in places like Libya, Yemen, Somalia, etc.?

        • MadDog says:

          Yoo was obsessed with it, as well as Addington and Flanigan.

          And in Yoo’s War Powers OLC opinion, it seems his inclusion of the preemptive aspect was thrown in as an afterthought because he spends only a cursory amount of time in the long opinion addressing it.

      • Jeff Kaye says:

        Bradbury in secret briefing, 2007:

        As a general matter, we can say with confidence that the holding of detainees without communication to the outside world or notification of third parties is consistent with the Geneva Conventions.

        Wow. I hope Bradbury gets to experience such incarceration some day, and be treated in a manner “consistent with the Geneva Conventions,” i.e., held without any communication with the outside world, or without notification to any third party.

        • Mary says:

          Mukasey refused to allow him to investigated for his roles (he was too close to sol and too plainly and clearly wrapped up in bad acts) but notice that Holder never did anything either.

          One pretty interesting thing is that from the info that did come out of the Comey emails, Gonzales specifically and very likely Bradbury new absolutely about the “preliminaries” that accompanied the renditions and refused to incorporate tht information into any of the memos.

    • MadDog says:

      And again from page 14 of the 79 page PDF, another missing OLC opinion:

      …Memorandum for the Files, from Jack L. Goldsmith, III, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, Re: Whether a POW may be offered certain advantages and benefits in exchange for cooperation (July 15, 2004)…

      • MadDog says:

        And another missing OLC opinion:

        …Memorandum for the Files, from Howard C. Nielson,Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and: [redacted – 3-4 words] Attorney-Adviser, Office of Legal Counsel, Re: The Notification Requirements of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions (Oct. 4, 2004)…

        • MadDog says:

          And from page 43 of the 79 page PDF, another missing OLC opinion:

          …July 14, 2004, Assistant Attorney General Jack L. Goldsmith III letter memorandum to CIA General Counsel Scott W. Muller, “re: Status of Abdallah Ahmad Muhammad al-Sharif Under the Fourth Geneva Convention,” classified TOP SECRET/[redacted word]/ORCON,NOFORN…

          • MadDog says:

            And on page 43 again, not an OLC opinion, but:

            …July 22, 2004, Acting Assistant Attorney General Daniel B. Levin letter memorandum to CIA General Counsel Scott W. Muller, untitled, subject: seeking information on an interrogation technique, classified TOP SECRET/[redacted word]/NOFORN…

            Note that this was the very same day that AG Ashcroft sent this to the CIA:

            Letter to John E. McLaughlin, Acting Director of Central Intelligence, from John D. Ashcroft, Attorney General (July 22, 2004) (1 page PDF)

            • MadDog says:

              And again on page 43, another OLC letter/opinion that is missing:

              …December 14, 2004, Acting Assistant Attorney General Daniel B. Levin letter to CIA Acting General Counsel John A. Rizzo, untitled, subject: [redacted 3-4 words], classified SECRET/[redacted word]/NOFORN…

              • MadDog says:

                And again on page 64, another OLC letter/opinion with no date that is missing:

                …Advice to the National Security Council regarding which terrorist organizations can be targeted [redacted 9-10 words]…

          • MadDog says:

            And from page 66 of the 79 page PDF, another 3 missing OLC “status” opinions:

            …Letter for Scott W. Muller, CIA General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency, from Jack L. Goldsmith III, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, Re: Status of [redacted 3-4 words] (June 23, 2004).

            Letter for Scott W. Muller, CIA General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency, from Jack L. Goldsmith III, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, Re: Status of [redacted 2-3 words] (June 23, 2004).

            Letter for Scott W. Muller, CIA General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency, from Jack L. Goldsmith III, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, Re: Status of [redacted 4-5 words] (July 16, 2004)…

              • MadDog says:

                You may be right, but the apparent context of these 3 “status” opinions immediately follows on page 66 the one I listed at # 16 above.

                And note that the first “status” opinion on page 66 redacts the name of the detainee whereas the apparent same OLC opinion on page 43 does not.

                But you may still be right on the drafts. I don’t know one way or another. *g*

                • MadDog says:

                  And in any event, I’m off to count some sheep. *g*

                  I don’t know whether this particular OLC document dump from the ACLU will get any further play, but I have to say that I found parts of it most interesting!


                  • MadDog says:

                    Ahhh…horse feathers! Just as I was going to head to bed, I decided to first check out the news on the NYT.

                    Sounds like another big deal:

                    Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants in Bin Laden Raid

                    …Some in Washington see the arrests as illustrative of the disconnect between Pakistani and American priorities at a time when they are supposed to be allies in the fight against Al Qaeda — instead of hunting down the support network that allowed Bin Laden to live comfortably for years, the Pakistani authorities are arresting those who assisted in the raid that killed the world’s most wanted man…

  7. Arbusto says:

    I’d thought the Hoover mindset died after he was buried in his pink tutu, but I guess each subsequent Director tries them on for size. As Daniel Ellsberg stated, the actions Nixon took, that forced him out of office in disgrace, are legal today. Where have all the good citizen politicians gone that our group politics could allow such a debasement of our rights while the citizenry sit idly by.

  8. wirerat1 says:

    Now now, we can’t let the terrorists win. Any objections is tantamount to being for the terrorists and killing more Americans. Gawd, thought you have figured that out by now (sic Patriot Act renewal).

    Funny that only Republicans seem to be able to make hay with this sort of thing. Rand Paul (not a Democrat) can hold the floor and make a fuss, a Republican can complain about the FBI, but what are the Democrats doing? Shunning those that would stand up for civil liberties?

  9. mzchief says:

    Tangetial– In Canadian governmental news from “CRTC Chair Calls for Rethink of Entire Regulatory System” (BroadcastMagazine.Com, June 13, 2011):

    In a speech prepared for the Banff World TV Festival, Konrad von Finckenstein, Chairman, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, outlined a number of media industry activities that are dynamically impacted by the new digital economy and emerging media creation and distribution platforms.

    In his prepared remarks, von Finckenstein wrote that “Regulatory change is necessary in our new digital world. We need new legislation and a new institutional framework. We cannot make the most of new opportunities when we are limited by the practices and the structures of the past.”

    What does this mean coming from the Harper Administration? How could this affect investigative reporting and its distribution with respect to the US?

    P.S. Regarding Brigette DePape from Manitoba: “Michael Moore offers job to fired Senate page” (CBC.Com, June 5, 2011). :-)

  10. jo6pac says:

    I think this a great jobs program in as half of Amerika will be hired to watch the other half. If they’re listen to phone, reading email, and going through the garbage will they be paying my bills and taken the garbage with them so I can end service?

    It’s pretty simple really they’re getting ready to finish off the middle class and want have everything in place to strike us down.

    Everything is on schedule, please move along

    • eCAHNomics says:

      Who will watch the half who are watchers?

      And the wages?

      Guessing minimum wage legislation will be rescinded before this happens.

      • jo6pac says:

        It will be mostly child labors of course and they will be taken from their parents at an early age to be trained. Any volunteers?

        Who will watch the half who are watchers?

        One of my favorite lines from Enemy of the State.

  11. DWBartoo says:

    Why yes, bluewombat, like the carnival barker says, “Ladies and germs, you haven’t seen ANYTHING yet … this is just the preliminary “workup”, there are more thrills, spills and plenty of rousing excitement ahead, dead ahead, just sit on back and enjoy the show … some of you may even be singled out to participate … you’ve just no idea how lucky you all are, yes indeedy do!!!”


  12. bigbrother says:

    J Edgar Hoover invented the vacuum cleaner for the FBI trash team, he would be proud as would President Hoover of the Obama administration’s forward look past the looting of Americans’ retirement by the Ponzi schemers on Wall street. The march of fascist policy is more and more open. The constitution is now considered a dated historic relic as the press podium owned by the Oligarchy spins reality for those on soma or to busy slaving to need it.

  13. MadDog says:

    And again on page 64, another OLC letter/opinion with that is missing:

    …Oral advice from John Eisenberg to [redacted 2 words] Central Intelligence Agency, that Majid Khan, an alien in CIA custody outside of the United States with apparent status as an asylee, has neither constitutional right nor rights under section 208 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. There is also a draft memo for the files dated September 14, 2005, which memorializes the facts as explained to the OLC and sets forth our legal analysis…

  14. MadDog says:

    And again, on page 79 of the 79 page PDF, these very interesting missing OLC opinions:

    …1. – 21 April 2003 – Memo for Scott E. Muller, GC/CIA: Re: Interpretations of 50 U.S.C. § 413b(f) (SECRET)

    2. – 29 May 2003 – Memo for Scott E. Muller, GC/CIA; Subject: Criminal Liability of CIA Officials under 18 U.S.C. §§ 2339A or 2339B for Providing Material Support or Resources to Terrorists (TOP SECRET/[redacted]/NOFORN)

    3. – 30 May 2003 – Memo For John B. Bellinger, III, Legal Adviser, NSC; Subject: Exercises of CIA Authority and “Covert Action” (SECRET)

    4. – 30 May 2003 – Memo for Scott E. Muller; Subject: [redacted sentence] (SECRET)

    5. – 22 September 2003 – Memo for Scott E. Muller; Subject: [redacted 2-3 words] (TOP SECRET/[redacted 7-8 words]…

    (My Bold)

    A missing OLC opinion about the liability of CIA officials for providing material support or resources to terrorists???

    That one sounds like a one big fookin’ deal to me!

    • MadDog says:

      Oh, and I forgot to mention about this one:

      …1. – 21 April 2003 – Memo for Scott E. Muller, GC/CIA: Re: Interpretations of 50 U.S.C. § 413b(f) (SECRET)…

      What are they talking about here you ask? This:

      …50 USC 413b(f) states that “no covert action may be conducted which is intended to influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies, or media…”

      That too sounds like a one big fookin’ deal to me!

    • Mary says:

      Ditto – good catch.

      But as you can see, apparently under the Breuer standard, the issue is whether or not they broke the law AND disclosed. ;)

      • MadDog says:

        Regarding this one:

        …2. – 29 May 2003 – Memo for Scott E. Muller, GC/CIA; Subject: Criminal Liability of CIA Officials under 18 U.S.C. §§ 2339A or 2339B for Providing Material Support or Resources to Terrorists (TOP SECRET/[redacted]/NOFORN)…

        Given the timing of this OLC opinion, I’d infer it likely has to do with the CIA’s involvement with the State Department designated terrorist organization MEK after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

        Of course, I could well be wrong and the OLC opinion could be about some other terrorist organization that the CIA was providing material support or resources to, but in either case, I’d sure like to see this “Get Out of Jail Free” card/OLC opinion.

        • Mary says:

          MEK would make sense. When was it that Rumsfeld thought they could solve that whole thing by just getting the MEK to change their name to something else, so, you know, they wouldn’t be MEK? Or am I misremembering that?

          The timing did set it up to really and truly be a get out of jail free card for the CIA role in the sleeping bag/fake executions/torture killing of Gen Mowhoush later that fall.

          Unfortunately, with the CIA, there is a whole slew of other possible options. I caught part of a few “Covert Affairs” episodes over a weekend a bit ago, while correcting docs and doing laundry. It’s interesting how, after 24, the push is now on to glamorize and “good girl” the Agency as the new PR.

          • MadDog says:

            And knowing the Bush/Cheney OLC, that opinion was probably generalized deliberately to cover MEK and anyone else they wanted the CIA to consort with.

  15. xargaw says:

    When I was a kid we had incinerators and burned all our trash. Now we have a wood stove in our garage to keep my husband’s workshop warm in the winter and also to burn most of our mail and old records. No shredding at our house, we burn. We do it because of identity theft which has happened to us twice. Now, there is just another reason to burn.

    • Peterr says:

      Another option would be shred and then compost it or feed it to a worm box.

      I’d love to see the warrant application that says the FBI wants to search someone’s compost pile.

  16. textynn says:

    Well, I hate litter boxes and have always trained my cats to go outside except when the snow is deep. But Im thinking, maybe, cat shit laced garbage is the answer. A couple of cats can create a lot of cat crap and I usually empty my litter box into a full bag of garbage(it just pours down into it)right before I take it out.

    Seriously, I don’t really have anything to hide but I like my privacy. Don’t want anyone keeping records on me or taking advantage of my weaknesses. I don’t feel this is about security and terror either. I feel it is all about the elite keeping tabs on everyone like their personal cattle. God forbid we have a great new business idea or try to get a state bank going or have a resource they don’t know about. That’s what this is really about.

  17. Mary says:

    OT but related. I read this Harper’s piece by Scott Horton this mornin, where he quotes from Jane Mayer’s piece about Drake’s case, and I suddenly have insight into the current DOJ.

    Apparently Lanny Breuer told Mayer, as summarized by Horton:

    … that the prosecution was “almost obligatory” (even though it was only the fifth such prosecution in history) because “you don’t get to break the law and disclose classified information just because you want to.”

    I never realized the “and” was there before. I’ve been trained in construction, but sure as hell missed this one.

    Now it’s all clear. If you’re in the Exec branch, you do get to break the law, it’s just that when you do, it’s classified. What you can’t do is break the law AND disclose.

    Got it. They need to get Lan the Man out there more often. He sure can straighten things out in a hurry.

  18. fatster says:

    Ex-Spy Alleges Effort to Discredit Bush Critic [Juan Cole]

    “Since a series of Watergate-era abuses involving spying on White House political enemies, the C.I.A. and other spy agencies have been prohibited from collecting intelligence concerning the activities of American citizens inside the United States.
    . . .
    “iMr. Smith and several other experts on national security law said the question of whether government officials had crossed the line in the Cole matter would depend on the exact nature of any White House requests and whether any collection activities conducted by intelligence officials had been overly intrusive.”

    Does “overly intrusive” include going through yr garbage?


    • fatster says:

      Should have added this (from the article):

      “Intelligence officials confirmed that the assistant sent e-mails to an analyst seeking information about Professor Cole in 2006. They said he had done so at the request of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence [Negroponte was Director at the time], which had been asked by White House officials to find out why Professor Cole had been invited to CIA-sponsored conferences.”

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