back to article FBI faked terror alerts to get phone records

The FBI fabricated terrorism emergencies to obtain thousands of phone records between 2002 and 2006, it's been revealed. The Bureau created "exigent letters" to get around rules that had already been significantly loosened by the Patriot Act. The letters were used to obtain some 2,000 phone records, The Washington Post reports …


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  1. Magnus_Pym


    ...nobody saw that coming.

    Oh wait. No. Everybody saw that coming.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hate to say it but some of us ...

    ....TOLD YOU SO!

    Lying sneaky m*therfuckers all of them! FBI, CIA, MI5, MI6, and all the other silly little self important, self serving QuaNGO departments...

    Best go out and get one of those tin-foil hats you so enjoyed mocking others for wearing all this time....

    But I suppose everything else they say is true right? Uhuh...Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me...

    1. Cameron Colley

      I think you'll find you mean:

      "Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." Apparently it's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee.

      At least, that's according to one of the scum who started this whole thing.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's this which makes me laugh whenever I hear people talking about China, it's almost as if whenever people start looking at the draconian, undemocratic, immoral, maddness that has enveloped western "democracies" suddenly western governments and their friends (google, et al) start waving their litte red sock puppet (I'm not refering to china being a sock puppet but that the imaginary man puts on his red socket and starts waving it so we do not pay attention to his other hand) going "arghh China is awful, we must do something, lalalalal look over here, China, it's bad!!! LALALALA pay attention to their baddness!! look they're spying on reporters, and human rights activists!!!"

    Not at all like the spying on reporters, human (and civil) rights activists being spied on in the UK or USA. We're working hard to catch China up, we'll get there sooner rather then later, but it'll still look like we're in a "democracy" becouse we'll still be able to consume things made by poor people. They may dissapear you, but your cell will have a TV in it. A nicer, kinder, friendlier kind of tyranny.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      China syndrome

      Actually, you can't separate this from the issue of China. It is the willingness of our so-called leaders to deal with China that has led to this position. They've learnt from the experts just how strong a hold a government with no scruples can maintain with the right laws and the right people to enforce those laws.

      China IS bad. Indeed, evil beyond comparison in the modern world. But our tolerance of that fact every time we buy something "made in China" is one of the root causes of the increasing corruption in the governments of the West.

    2. david wilson

      @AC 11:59

      >>"We're working hard to catch China up, we'll get there sooner rather then later,"


      If we're not absolutely different from something else, we must by definition be on a slippery slope towards it.

      After all, things *must* be getting worse, since it's not as if US (or UK) intelligence services ever dreamed of spying on political activists in the *past*, is it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @@AC 11:59

        A point not lost on me, just look at the activities directed towards union leaders in the UK in the 80s

        However things are getting easier and easier for those who wish to monitor citizens in greater numbers and greater depth then ever before.

        1. david wilson

          @@@AC 11:59

          >>"However things are getting easier and easier for those who wish to monitor citizens in greater numbers and greater depth then ever before."

          Possibly so, but someone still has to actually look at the data that gets collected, and that requires someone to *do* the looking, and a *reason* for looking, however swish the underlying technology might be.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @@@@AC 11:59

            However reasons now are becoming ever flimsier ("is this person letting their dog poo on the streets" is the kind of level that councils have been deploying the use of RIPA) also checking that people really live in school catchment areas is another way RIPA has been deployed. So I have little faith that all this new capacity wont be abused for whatever pet peeves future governments and civil authorities may have. What's tommorows extreme pornography going to be? Or hate speach, or anti government propaganda, (insert any number of things a government ten years down the line may not like.)

            Another problem is the potential for "fishing trips" when some official wants something actioned becouse nobodies been caught for braking a given new law (becouse it was a waste of time front page grabber for the red tops) so that the official can say that they're tough on a given crime (illegal downloading, naughty cartoons, possesion of material that may be useful for terrorism, so on and so forth.)

            Also then the potential for government to farm this kind of thing out to private companies for any number of reasons (someone like phorm in the case of IT information, or genetic profiling companies for DNA) Before you know it you're getting weird targeted ads, or you need to go to special meetings every few weeks becouse you have the "angry gene" or some such thing.

            At the end of the day, you don't want anyone too have too much data in one place, sure the risk may be minimal, but I recon it's more likely then being blown up by terrorists.

            Also from a "finding terrorists" point of view we saw yet again how having too much data meant that someone was missed. So why put everybodies civil and human rights at risk on the off chance they might catch a terrorist. Besides there are far more dangerous things in the world, MRSA for instance, alchole related violance, etc... In fact the best cure for terrorists would probably be laughing at them more, but we're all a bit scared of making fun of people nowdays, a bit non pc. People would probably say it was racist. Oh well.

            1. david wilson

              @@@@@AC 11:59

              >>"However reasons now are becoming ever flimsier ("is this person letting their dog poo on the streets" is the kind of level that councils have been deploying the use of RIPA)"

              So if I *was* a dog owner who was letting my dog shit everywhere, you're suggesting that it's better to have someone confront me in public (possibly mob-handed if they think I might kick off) than find out where I live and write to me, and/or film me doing it so I can't simply deny it later?

              What expectation of *privacy* should I (or anyone else) have about public antisocial behaviour?

              As for all the stuff about what an Evil Future Government *might* do, you might as well argue that we shouldn't have any prisons, since even though currently they're only for locking up convicted criminals or people on remand, they *could* be used to lock up people who merely disagree with the government.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Watch, as nobody cares...

    Which is how and why western governments can continually get away with this crap. Populations have been socially engineered to become docile, cynical, selfish and largely politically disengaged - along with a shallow, deferential and disinclined media. All of which amounts to a perfect environment in which governments, along with their LEA's, can wilfully misbehave without fear of any serious oversight or criticism.

    It's good to El Reg keeping a consistent eye on what is happening with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act here in the UK. This is one of the few remaining news outlets that has kept this very worrying issue in its headlines, whilst mainstream media - of course - seems unwilling or unable to report on it at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Bill Hicks

      As the late, great Bill Hicks said, 'Go back to sleep America, your government is in charge. Get fat, lazy and stupid in front of your TVs. Think what we say and everything will be OK.'

      1. Anonymous Coward

        nearly :) if you want the actual outburst from the late, great Bill Hicks, and the actual wording..

        Memorably sampled by Adam Freeland in this tune (which I think Bill would have understood):

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Disclosure requirement

    There needs to be a disclosure requirement. So that any third party who receives a RIPA/et al request for information needs to inform the target of that request about it.

    If the official wants to keep it secret then they need to go to court to get a proper warrant, not these 'letters signed by senior officials'.

    That way, we find out about all the RIPA requests that were not reported to the commissioner, and we find out about all the abusive ones, where the Officer/Health and Safety gnome/coastguard/PCSO... etc. lied when making the request.

    UK is such a mess.

  6. Paul Smith

    witty comment

    "The [Justice Department] report is not expected to find — nor were there — any intentional attempts to obtain records that counterterrorism personnel knew they were not legally entitled to obtain,"

    So why weren't the records obtained legally? Are they using the Nixon defence "If I do it, it is not illegal", or perhaps my personal favourite "Illegal? I do not think that word means what you think it means".

    1. Mike Moyle


      They seem to be using the classic We-Did-Nothing-Wrong-And-We'll-Never-Do-It-Again "defense".

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    So America

    Still believe you are the 'Land of the Free'?

    Not that it is much better here in the UK.

  8. Mike Shepherd

    The boy who cried "wolf"

    Someone didn't read their fables.

  9. blackworx
    Big Brother


    "The [Justice Department] report is not expected to find — nor were there — any intentional attempts to obtain records that counterterrorism personnel knew they were not legally entitled to obtain," said assistant director of public affairs Michael Kortan.

    So. Not really what you'd describe as repentant then.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    were not legally entitled to

    That is, with a proper warrant. It's a little legal thing that you ciminals in government don't really understand.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The only surprise...

    ... is that anyone is surprised any longer?

    But what does it all matter? We have HD TV, soap operas and football - who could want more?

    And - after all - our respective governments are only trying to protect us all from the troublemakers and foreigners who think they can get away with being different...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    One day....

    someone will wake up and we will get rid of all the self serving gits.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Er.... no....

      .... tragically - they won't.

      Governments, politicians and assorted tinpot dictators have been pulling these tricks for 1000s of years - aided and abetted by legions of jobsworths and people who find security in 'only doing their jobs'. The tragedy being that they always work with enough of the population to be effective. And presumably will always work, as long as people prefer security to liberty, and unquestioned answers to unanswered questions.

      " is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country." ----Herman Goering at the Nuremberg Trials.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    It's all about democracy....

    Bush(snr),Clinton(Bill),Bush(jnr),Clinton(Hill-2nd in command). Wow. What democracy. That's since about 1981 or so. You chumps must love not living in China. What a choice. And it leads to this. Suppose the gullable twats will just start to accept that they have no privacy and that life is a public forum. I wonder when folks will start to dissapear? Fix it people! Together :) I'd post useful URL's but I doubt El Reg would let my post through :D Maybe I'll try some day :) Get Connected.

    1. david wilson

      @AC 16:59

      >>"Bush(snr),Clinton(Bill),Bush(jnr),Clinton(Hill-2nd in command). Wow. What democracy. That's since about 1981 or so. "

      I guess you're not old enough to remember the '80s or Reagan, then?

      FFS, you're on the *Internet*.

      It'd only have taken you a few seconds to check, but you evidently thought your response here was too urgent to risk delaying.

      I think you were mistaken.

  14. SouthernWaylander

    Freedom should be delisted from Oxford Dictionary

    The meaning of freedom shoud be changed.... To what I don't know anymore. They monitor your calls, your tv habits, your shopping habits, your surfing habits, your working habits, your eating habits, medical records, driving records and so the list goes on. For how long do they plan to keep this up? To what extent will this be pushed? Parents in the US apparently have the option of 'chipping' their new borns, so they can track them down wherever they are, at any given time.

    How did all the scared pansies get this far in life, and who did they have to pay to kill the competition and tweak the evolutionary chain.... They already have my data, but none of the bastards want to pay my bank loan for me.

    Well, all this bullshit should technically push the unemployment rate down.... right? I mean, someone has to shovel the shit and go through all of the data they are 'reviewing'.

    1. david wilson


      >>"They monitor your calls, your tv habits, your shopping habits,..."

      Who's this 'they' then?

      One Big Monolithic 'THEM', or various smaller ones?

      Personally I very much doubt anyone is listening to any calls I make, or paying any attention to who I call. Likely the same goes for most/all of the ACs who post on these topics are saying.

      Like most people, I'm not significant enough for anyone to waste time snooping on, and if no *human* is going to personally look at my phone records, from a privacy perspective, whether those records exist just with my telecoms provider or also with MI5/GCHQ/whoever doesn't seem to matter a great deal.

      They're no obvious way anyone could monitor my TV habits, since nothing I watch TV with has any outbound connection.

      Apart from online, most of my shopping is via cash, but even if everything I bought was traceable, I doubt that much I buy would be of interest. Possibly the electronic components, if I was otherwise suspect, but then I'm not Muslim, into animal rights, or an ex-BNP guy living with his mum, which drops my likely interest factor on that front close to zero.

      Not sure how 'they' could monitor my eating habits either - can't be bothered to get/carry/use a loyalty card.

  15. Barbara in Austin
    Black Helicopters


    Funny how evolution is equated to "technology"... that really makes me laugh!

    Time to toss the cell phones away and go back to smoke signals.. easy to read, a real bitch to write... but think of all the money we'll *save* (government) by having all our communications out in the open! it's time to rev up the engines on the old global warming bandwagon-- how better than mass burnings??

    I dug out my old abacus to use instead of excel... wow! These columns make so much more sense!!

    PS: Hey El Reg!! When a person signs up for this balleyhoobulletinboardbashing, El Reg asks "How many employees" and answer number one says: "Less than 10"... LESS?? What be this "less than 10" person?? OH!! You must mean FEWER!!! peeves need stroking when encountered...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thats why they named it the Patriot Act

    So they can convince themselves that surveilling honest citizens is patriotic!!


  17. cor

    So... let's hand McKinnon over then eh?

    After all, the means by which the FBI gathered their charges together was not intentionally loaded or biased or fictitious or dodgy or.....

    F.B.I. = Fibs Bu11 Indictments

  18. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    They live

    We sleep.

    You can guess what's in my pocket.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    nothing to hide

    If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

    How naeve people are when they use that phrase.

  20. Gaz 6

    I can't respond

    Or my head will explode due to how ticked off I am! And they'll get away with usual.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Osiris Is A Black God

    Well, right now, any crazy paranoid suspicion seems to be fnord more mild than the reality in most developed country, time to indulge in conspiracy theories to relax. Reality is getting far too scary.

  22. Simon 39

    Oh my....

    Remember how the US used to point at the Soviets and say to us:

    "This! This is the sort of thing we're protecting you from!".


  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nixon icon?

    Please can we have a Nixon icon?

    At least Nixon had the decency to leave office.

  24. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    @Michael Kortan

    "The [Justice Department] report is not expected to find — nor were there — any intentional attempts to obtain records that counterterrorism personnel knew they were not legally entitled to obtain," said assistant director of public affairs Michael Kortan."


    What a load of crap and a dick thing for him to say. Breaking down what he says.. "intentional".. NOBODY accidentally works over the phone company for records, that's intentional. "Knew they were not legally entitled". OK, did they use the legally mandated procedures to request these records? No? Then they were not legally entitled to them and they knew it. So are there going to be arrests or at least some forced resignations?

    Don't blame me, I voted libertarian.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    @ Disclosure requirement

    What a fantastically daft idea - what would be the point of carrying out covert surveillance of someone if you then tell the target that you are watching them? You may as well say "Don't do anything illegal for the next 5 days cos we'll be watching you." Anyone stupid enough to ignore that should be locked up if only for their own protection.

    To anyone who keeps bleating on about councils and other bodies using the regulations to police 'petty' problems - get a life. You seem to be obsessed with the idea of surveillance being used to check for dog fouling and watching people abusing the law to get their children into the school of their choice which, incidentally, means another, perhaps more deserving, child misses out. You're convinced that RIPA is only for the security services to use - bollocks. Read up on the public health issues around dog shit. See where this occurs the most and then look to see if the authority has the personnel to monitor these areas 24/7. Look at fly-tipping and the damage it causes not just to the environment but also landowners' wallets. I bet that you don't like benefit cheats. How do you propose authorities, charged with the duty to protect public money, get evidence without covertly watching the theiving gits? Tell them in advance? Get court orders each and every time? Hire private dectectives? All these cost money which the taxpayer has to fund. Using RIPA allows public authorities, that have the powers (these are limited), to carry out operations to catch persistent offenders and prosecute them.

    If an authority is stupid enough to try and hide operations from the commissioner then they deserve all the crap they get but please don't tar all of us with the same brush. Yes, I'm a local govt officer hence the AC but if you want to find out what surveilance has been carried out by any public body, just ask for the register under FOI rules. You'll probably get it except for maybe any 'live' files. Find out the truth before you cry foul.

  26. Anonymous Coward


    I don't mind when these people do the right things for the right reasons, but when the FBI stands for "The Fucking Bureau of Intimidation" - being based upon faked invasions of other countries to steal their oil from a president who is a brain damaged scumbag junkie..... and his pack of bastard thieves; and a gutless military heirarchy - who chose to become tax payer funded gun toting standover merchants for the banks of the USA...

    All tallied up with the "lets go along with this crap" by the arseholes in the FBI........

    Along with the "faked" patriot act, and the "faked" subpoenas for the information........

    Fuck the lot of them in the US and A.

    1. david wilson


      I think you were probably thinking about the CIA in at least some of that post.

      The FBI doesn't really do much international stuff.

      If you really must rant, it's probably better to educate yourself first.

  27. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    You cab tell when Terror-Bosses are lying

    Their mouths move.


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