FBI Wiretaps Shut Down: The Feds Weren't Paying the Bills (and Other Frightening Things)

surveillance_van.jpgHere is a comforting thought for you. Apparently the FBI has routinely failed to pay telecom companies for providing phone and internet lines that they had been using for wiretaps and other super-secret surveillance. This has resulted in at least one company cutting a foreign intelligence wiretap until the bill is paid.

It appears that part of the problem is due to the FBI being unable to keep track of their complicated bill. Other problems stem from the telecoms billing the FBI multiple times for individual surveillance warrants. Former FBI agent and now ACLU national security policy counsel Mike German noted that the telecoms were letting the government engage in spying without warrants and allowed them to illegally get customer records. He noted: "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."

If all of this doesn't make you laugh and scare the hell out of you at the same time, I don't know what will. [Wired]

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