back to article For the past five years, every FBI secret spy court request to snoop on Americans has sucked, says watchdog

The FBI has not followed internal rules when applying to spy on US citizens for at least five years, according to an extraordinary report [PDF] by the Department of Justice’s inspector general. The failure to follow so-called Woods Procedures, designed to make sure the FBI’s submissions for secret spying are correct, puts a …

  1. Magani
    Holmes

    I'm shocked, I tell you!

    The process is wide open to abuse, critics have argued, and so it turns out to have been the case.

    Who would have thought folks in positions of authority would do such a thing.

    </sarcasm>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm shocked, I tell you!

      Unethical system ripe for abuse is being abused and used unethically. News at 11.

      --

      These can also be granted retroactively if the agency needs to move quickly.

      Oh that's just gold:

      "Let Us In!"

      "Do you have a warrant?"

      "Yes!"

      "Can I see it?"

      "No!"

      "Why not?"

      "We don't have it yet"

      "So... you don't have a warrant then?"

      "No, we do"

      "...but..."

      "We just don't have one right now"

      "...but..."

      "We will have had a warrant right now. After we apply to get one later. Assuming we actually get it"

      "..."

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: I'm shocked, I tell you!

        Reality:

        "Let Us In!"

        "Do you have a warrant?"

        "Yes!"

        "Can I see it?"

        [door implodes, several large men in protective gear rush in and stick multiple automatic weapons in your face, as others cuff you and lead you away]

        "No!"

  2. HildyJ Silver badge
    Mushroom

    And even sadder

    "sign that the FBI cannot be trusted to follow its own rules"

    Which makes it infinitesimally better than NSA which has no rules.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And even sadder

      Actually, they have 1 rule.

      I'll let you guess which rule they ignore.

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

        Re: And even sadder

        Actually, they have 2 rules:

        Rule 1: The FBI is always right.

        Rule 2: When the FBI is wrong, Rule 1 applies.

  3. Old one

    Fruit of the poisoned tree

    IF the warrants were not valid then any evidence obtained is fruit of the poisoned tree. Any criminal charges that arose from a tainted FISA warrant must be overturned. Its the same as entrapment where evidence is obtained by fraudulent methods.

    1. jerkyflexoff

      Re: Fruit of the poisoned tree

      Couldn't agree more, police think they are above the law.

      1. Anguilla
        Big Brother

        Re: Fruit of the poisoned tree

        ""Couldn't agree more, police think they are above the law""

        That can be said of The Hong Kong 'filth' too !!!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fruit of the poisoned tree

          They aint got nothing on the Met.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fruit of the poisoned tree

      Does "not following internal rules" make them invalid?

  4. ThinkingMonkey

    However, they DO promise to do better in other areas

    The never-ending demands from the FBI, and really the Justice Department in general, for companies to provide back-doors into any and all encryption "will be utilized ONLY when proper permission from judges has been sought and given." So there. They promise to really, really do it by the book this time. For anyone unfamiliar with the FBI's hate of encryption, Google for (several years ago) the FBI Director at the time having posters placed in Internet cafes suggesting that anyone seeing anyone else using Tor or encryption should immediately report it. Since criminals are usually the people using Tor and encryption apparently.

    Personally, I was not put on this Earth to ease the jobs of law enforcement. I would never knowingly hinder it, obviously, so yes, I am 100% for every single terrorist act that's foiled but not at the expense of my own security and privacy. For example there will probably never come a time when instead of walking to my mailbox out by the road, I ask my neighbor to open it and read it to me over the telephone. "I don't have anything to hide, but I don't have anything I want to show you, either."

    1. Robert Helpmann??
      Childcatcher

      Re: However, they DO promise to do better in other areas

      ...I am 100% for every single terrorist act that's foiled but not at the expense of my own security and privacy.

      Likewise. I do not want to be terrorized by anyone or any group, foreign or domestic, government or private. Rights are not a one-or-the-other affair. The loss of any is to be feared.

  5. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    It's not just the FBI to blame

    The FBI was a different organization before 9/11, after 9/11 it was blamed for the governments failures and retasked to virtually abandon criminal investigations and instead move into the "terrorism" world, an area where it had little experience. I expect that once the details of these investigations are released, what we will see is standard police procedures for local criminal investigations being misapplied in an attempt to block terrorism and international political interference.

    The problem is not the FBI, it's the governments control over the FBI - for example, we have stop and search laws in the UK, giving the police the right to stop and search anyone anywhere, have you ever seem these applied to stop and search an MP in parliament? The governments give the police the powers but would consider it illegal if it was applied to themselves.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: It's not just the FBI to blame

      The problem, in the US at least, is that 9/11 "justifies" everything.

      Including the PATRIOT Act, and its continuing validity.

      Ugh.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: It's not just the FBI to blame

        The US Federal government was under multiple states of emergency before 9/11, and had been continuously since the 1970s. 9/11 was a good excuse for escalation, but the Feds had no difficulty excusing their abuse of their own powers prior to that. Even before the 70's they had plenty of rationalizations: wars, Prohibition, the Civil Rights movement (remember COINTELPRO?), and of course the all-time favorite bugbear, Communism.

        In the US, the only effective curtailments to abusive policing, historically, have been squelched and overturned convictions (the "fruit of the poisoned tree" doctrine), and civil-rights trials against individual officers. And the latter has been effective only against relatively low-ranked members of local law enforcement, as far as I know, and in much smaller volumes. Basically, we have to rely on the judiciary to block the various policing forces by spoiling their endgame. In this context FISA is a particular abomination, since it pretends to be a part of the judiciary but makes a mockery of that role.

  6. Alistair
    Windows

    One has to wonder

    Just how thrilled JEH is these days. I mean, you KNOW he would be pounding a desk somewhere screaming BackDoors!!! NOW!!!

    One has to keep in mind that the US was initially populated by folks with a peculiarly strict reglious bent. It seems that is still a long way from wearing off despite years and immigration. As to the hypocracy of that group of peculiarly bent folks, well, I'm sure there are entire history texts that cover the issue. You just won't find those texts anywhere near an american school.

  7. Bitsminer Bronze badge

    lost

    It says that it couldn't review files for four of the 29 selected FISA applications because the FBI has not been able to locate them and, in three of these instances, did not know if the files ever existed.

    Did they think to ask SVR or GRU if they had them?

    /s

  8. onebignerd

    This should be clear evidence and cause for Congress to repeal the spying laws of the Patriot Act, radical overhaul of the FISA courts and withdraw the Presidential Orders related to spying that the NSA claims gives them that ability , which by their own admission have not worked. This is also a clear example of why no branch of law enforcement or government should have backdoor access to the encrypted data of U.S citizens. Congress has zero ability too or effectiveness in exercising any kind of oversight.

    But then most likely Congress will renew it without much of a debate or fight. The FISA court and the FBI will continue on to abuse the rights of U.S citizens in blatant violation of the laws they are supposed to uphold.

  9. A random security guy Bronze badge

    Some observations about the report

    1. FISA was bound to be abused due to the secrecy

    2. The nature of the violations are not clear.

    3. Most warrants are requested in a hurry, with no real oversight They are bound to have issues.

    However

    4. Was this review used to clear Carter Page?

    5. Is the FBI is being dismantled and/or being made the boogeyman?

    6. The Investigation was run by the very people who support Carter Page.

    7. The heads of the organizations are clearly not capable of defending their organizations as they report to trump.

    I am absolutely against the PATRIOT act and the way FISA works is wrong.

    But one has to wonder if this is a case of The executive branch neutering our FBI to protect one of their own.

  10. TechShops

    In response to Version.1's comments."We have stop and search laws in the UK, giving the police the right to stop and search anyone anywhere, have you ever seem these applied to stop and search an MP in parliament?"

    You are probably not aware that MP's are actually ABOVE the law in some circumstances.

    Once the division bell is rung, getting MP's to vote it is an criminal offence to stop, hinder or detain and MP in any way, even if he commits an offence. So stop and search of an MP and you could end up with a nice 8 x 12 room at Her Majesty's pleasure.

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