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When Feds become voyeurs: FBI let drug operation continue for months?

When Feds become voyeurs: FBI let drug operation continue for months?
When Feds become voyeurs: FBI let drug operation continue for months?

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Fwd: [Full-disclosure] FBI San Diego, Drug Investigations and  9/11
Date: Fri, 10 Jun 2005 02:47:29 -0400
From: Nancy Kramer  

Hello Declan,

Maybe you will find this post from one of my security lists
interesting.  Maybe this person's observations should be part of Politech.


Nancy Kramer

>From: "Jason Coombs"  
>Date: Fri, 10 Jun 2005 06:06:13 +0000 GMT
>Cc: Full-Disclosure , 
> Antisocial  
>Subject: [Full-disclosure] FBI San Diego, Drug Investigations and 9/11
>Hello, Kelly.
>I'm writing in response to your article from today in the San Diego 
>San Diego FBI Officials Call 9/11 Criticism 'Dead Horse'
>I work as an expert witness in civil and criminal court cases involving 
>computer forensics and information security.
>In 2003 I became involved as expert witness on behalf of a defendant in a 
>Federal criminal drug prosecution case in San Diego county.
>In the course of the law enforcement investigation, which occurred prior 
>to the PATRIOT Act, the FBI computer forensics lab in San Diego assisted 
>the DEA with Internet wiretaps of the suspects' computers, possibly in 
>violation of wiretap laws, which at the time had no reference to Internet 
>type data communications electronic intercepts.
>The defendant was tried and convicted, and the case is now pending appeal.
>During my review of the case on behalf of the defendant, I was shocked to 
>see how far and how long law enforcement allowed the suspects to operate 
>their drug operation in San Diego.
>Instead of arresting the suspects when the FBI and DEA had conclusive 
>proof of crimes, law enforcement seems to have toyed with the suspects, 
>dragging out the investigation and making it absurdly complicated and 
>costly. Law enforcement had proof sufficient to convict several months 
>before the first drug sale occurred in the case, and they sat and watched, 
>as though they were more interested in playing with their shiny new 
>computer surveillance toys than in putting an end to the drug crimes in 
>progress so they could move on to more important things, like the 
>terrorists known to the CIA to be inside our country, who by coincidence 
>lived virtually next-door to these drug offenders in San Diego.
>Law enforcement delayed making arrests in this drug case until their 
>priorities were changed after 9/11.
>Meanwhile, drugs were being manufactured and sold in San Diego within full 
>video surveillance and other plain view of the FBI and DEA.
>I'm certain that I'm allowed to talk about the case now that it is over, 
>and the defendant on whose behalf I did my work previously expressed a 
>willingness to have his case publicized.
>If you're interested in this story, let me know and I can put you in 
>contact with the defendant in the case.
>He and his criminal associates appeared to be non-violent drug offenders 
>who became guinea pigs for the development of the FBI and DEA's electronic 
>intercept investigations techniques, which paved the way for parts of the 
>PATRIOT Act which subsequently granted authorities additional capabilities 
>to use computer surveillance technology in ways that I believe are 
>Computer electronic intercepts allow automated intelligence gathering 
>according to sophisticated automated rules, in effect allowing computers 
>to do, through the use of secret law enforcement software, what human law 
>enforcement would never be allowed by law to do themselves.
>For this and other reasons, all electronic intercepts that use computer 
>software to analyze data (including voice recognition processing of 
>digital audio) may be a violation of our various Constitutional 
>protections. They certainly create opportunity for systematic abuses, and 
>in the absence of a cultural bias toward full disclosure there is very 
>real possibility of harm to the public interest.
>We all know by now how little effort anyone in the law enforcement 
>community put into overcoming institutional and case management barriers 
>that made it culturally, politically, and in some respects legally 
>impossible within our country to take proactive and imaginative yet 
>constitutionally-correct actions to advance the early detection of serious 
>violent crime like 9/11.
>What I find amazing about the case I worked on was the extent to which the 
>system that we still have today continues to create unproductive barriers 
>that make law enforcement mistakes and courtroom rules completely 
>unresponsive to, and disinterested in, positive change and procedural 
>The idea that law enforcement is entitled to have and hold secrets, and 
>have their transgressions covered up by cooperative judges -- in effect 
>granting law enforcement the flexibility to make up the rules whenever 
>they like, which is essentially what the PATRIOT Act has granted free 
>license to do, and what the Bush administration is now requesting by way 
>of extensions to PATRIOT -- the idea that these extra powers somehow solve 
>the underlying systemic problems that allowed the 9/11 conspiracy to 
>unfold is just wrong.
>It is systemic flaws that cause law enforcement and the courts to invest 
>huge sums of money into extremely complex and lengthy drug investigations 
>instead of quickly and efficiently prosecuting small offenses before they 
>grow into larger ones.
>And it is systemic flaws that allow otherwise-good people who have drug, 
>debt, and career problems to be destroyed by society rather than receive 
>help from its protective machinery, all while real threats to public 
>safety are institutionally ignored.
>This case illustrates better than any I have seen before just how wrong 
>the double standard is that we apply to non-violent drug offenders. They 
>are part of society and deserve its protection, yet we assign teams of 
>people to investigate and watch their activities every minute of every 
>day, track their movements with GPS and wireless technology, and intercept 
>all of their communications, all according to a belief that these people 
>are a threat to, rather than a part of, America.
>Such persons are a part of America and need protection from themselves, 
>perhaps. They are certainly a part of America whose problems should not be 
>permitted unnecessarily to grow to the point that they cause harm to 
>others. Strangely, harm to others was a foregone conclusion made not by 
>the drug offenders but by lawmakers,law enforcement, the public, and the 
>courts, who see fit to create millions of dollars of financial burden for 
>taxpayers over the lifetime of a career criminal rather than intervene 
>when common sense says the public's intervention has a chance to 
>rehabilitate the offender.
>Does the offender not deserve protection from the harmful psychological 
>and biochemical effects of the very drugs that become their ticket to a 
>mandatory life sentence in Federal prison?
>Drug offenders who appear to represent little or no threat to the public 
>safety other than their own drug addictions and lack of access to 
>conventional employment, whom could in fact be set straight as productive 
>law-abiding rehabilitated members of society at a fraction of the cost of 
>merely investigating their criminal activities much less prosecuting and 
>then handling appeals court procedures concerning them, these people 
>receive a huge percentage of taxpayers' law enforcement and public safety 
>We entrust a needlessly-complex system with their care and protection 
>without making an effort to know what that system is doing, and we are now 
>giving that system more license to operate in secret, based on the idea 
>that these people are the enemy.
>It just may be the case that increasingly our own decisions and 
>misjudgments are the real enemy, yet we ensure that we are never 
>confronted with this possibility by the degree to which we demonize all 
>criminals and removing from them their status first and foremost as human 
>beings who obviously have serious problems.
>That the defendant in the instant case clearly does not have a malicious 
>desire to harm others should mean something but it does not. He will most 
>likely remain a prisoner for the rest of his life, as a direct result of 
>the misguided priorities of the system of criminal law and justice that we 
>have created today.
>It was imminently within the grasp of the justice system during the year 
>2000 to put a stop to a growing drug offense very early in its 
>development, giving the drug offenders access to care and a prison 
>sentence that would have been less than the rest of their natural lives, 
>and in so doing free up the very resources in San Diego that would have 
>been capable, and were entrusted with the responsibility, to find and stop 
>terrorists operating in San Diego.
>The FBI in San Diego missed the opportunity to stop 9/11 because they were 
>busy wasting taxpayer money allowing drugs to be sold in San Diego just so 
>they could get a bigger prison sentence for the offenders and so they 
>could practice and perfect their computer skills.
>We, the people who allow this government to operate on our behalf in this 
>manner and without our oversight or involvement, we are to blame for this 
>systemic problem just as much if not more than the hard-working and 
>honorable law enforcement officers who risk their lives to protect us.
>I can assure you from first-hand observation that the systemic flaws 
>remain, and that unless they are solved there will be more negative 
>consequences of expanding the power of law enforcement to act in secret in 
>order to comply with our country's senseless mandates that compel us to 
>create as many prisoners as possible.
>Jason Coombs

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