FBI Wiretaps Dropped Due to Unpaid Bills

I'm With Stupid

What a joke. Is this why the Telecoms want immunity?

Telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals because of the bureau's repeated failures to pay phone bills on time.

A Justice Department audit released Thursday blamed the lost connections on the FBI's lax oversight of money used in undercover investigations. In one office alone, unpaid costs for wiretaps from one phone company totaled $66,000.

In at least one case, a wiretap used in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act investigation ''was halted due to untimely payment,'' the audit found. FISA wiretaps are used in the government's most sensitive and secretive criminal and intelligence investigations, and allow eavesdropping on suspected terrorists or spies.

''We also found that late payments have resulted in telecommunications carriers actually disconnecting phone lines established to deliver surveillance results to the FBI, resulting in lost evidence,'' according to the audit by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.

More than half of 990 bills to pay for telecommunication surveillance in five unidentified FBI field offices were not paid on time, the report show

[Click to read more of FBI Wiretaps Dropped Due to Unpaid Bills - New York Times]

The ACLU is calling for the full release of the report, as something doesn't quite add up.

Americans should be extremely concerned when the FBI’s failure to pay its bills on time puts our national security at risk. We’re down the constitutional rabbit hole when lack of payment, and not the lack of a warrant, prevents the FBI from wiretapping. It seems the telecoms, who are claiming they were just being "good patriots" when they allowed the government to spy on us without warrants, are more than willing to pull the plug on national security investigations when the government falls behind on its bills. To put it bluntly it sounds as though the telecoms believe it when FBI says warrant is in the mail but not when they say the check is in the mail.

The information released by the OIG is yet another example of the complete disarray at the FBI. The FBI has failed to address its serious management issues – continuing to turn a blind eye to its internal problems. Yet against all odds, instead of being chided for not addressing these problems, the agency has asked for and received even more authority from Congress.

Six and a half years after 9/11, the bureau’s mismanagement still threatens our national security.

Until proper oversight is imposed on the intelligence community, our security and our rights will remain at risk. As Congress is seeking to further expand surveillance powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, we urge them to take these facts into account. The bureau must be held accountable. If the FBI can’t even manage its checkbook properly, how can we trust it to ensure that our rights are being protected?"

For more information on FISA and surveillance, go to:

[From American Civil Liberties Union : ACLU Says FBI Can’t Manage Checkbook]

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This page contains a single entry by swanksalot published on January 10, 2008 8:23 PM.

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