2011-06-13 "Above the Law: FBI Agents Encouraged to Search Your Trash, Public Databases Just to Sniff Around For Crime" by Dennis Romero
What the hell happened to America after 9/11? Have we lost sight of our founding principles?
The FBI plans to issue new rules for its agents saying [http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/13/us/13fbi.html?_r=1&hp], essentially, that they can and should dig through our trash and search databases (Facebook, Twitter?) if people who aren't suspects but who are simply being assessed or looked at.
Scary? The news comes after ...
* a scathing report in the New Yorker [http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/05/23/110523fa_fact_mayer] about the government's failed case against U.S. intelligence worker and whistleblower Thomas Drake, in which former National Security Agency mathematician Bill Binney claims, according to the story ...
* that the agency now stores copies of all e-mails transmitted in America, in case the government wants to retrieve the details later. In the past few years, the N.S.A. has built enormous electronic-storage facilities in Texas and Utah. Binney says that an N.S.A. e-mail database can be searched with "dictionary selection," in the manner of Google.
The feds are in your trash, your email, and phone conversations, apparently.
The new FBI trash-digging policy will be a part of the agency's updated Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, a source tells the New York Times.
The changes apply not to criminal investigations but, apparently, to agents' ability simply to sniff around "proactively," according to the Times.
The paper states that some agents wanted the trash-sifting powers so they could use evidence found among refuse to pressure people to snitch on others.
(Great. So you might not even be the target of a federal probe or even suspected of a federal crime, but agents will use your discarded mattress tag to get you to flip on your neighborhood pot dealer).
The ACLU isn't happy, with Michael German, a former FBI agent turned ACLU lawyer, telling the paper: "Claiming additional authorities to investigate people only further raises the potential for abuse."
So watch your trash, people. Or ... put some real vile stuff in there. Like Anthony Weiner photos [http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2011/06/weiner_nude_photo_gym.php].