Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government Privacy The Courts Transportation Technology

Emails Show Feds Asking Florida Cops To Deceive Judges About Surveillance Tech 251

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
Advocatus Diaboli sends this excerpt from Wired: Police in Florida have, at the request of the U.S. Marshals Service, been deliberately deceiving judges and defendants about their use of a controversial surveillance tool to track suspects, according to newly obtained emails (PDF). At the request of the Marshals Service, the officers using so-called stingrays have been routinely telling judges, in applications for warrants, that they obtained knowledge of a suspect's location from a 'confidential source' rather than disclosing that the information was gleaned using a stingray.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Emails Show Feds Asking Florida Cops To Deceive Judges About Surveillance Tech

Comments Filter:
  • And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TemperedAlchemist (2045966) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @11:12PM (#47291291)

    It won't stop until the DoJ actually starts handing out serious penalties instead of a slap on the wrist for this sort of behavior. I'm talking jail time.

  • Perjury? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hairy1 (180056) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @11:23PM (#47291345) Homepage

    Isn't this kinda like....um.... perjury? I'm pretty sure that kind of thing isn't taken lightly by the judiciary. Furthermore, isn't it law enforcement meant to be role models for following the law?

  • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msauve (701917) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @11:25PM (#47291357)
    Since you're referencing the DoJ, I'd assume you mean jail time for those releasing evidence of illegal surveillance and deceiving the courts.
  • pejury (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 21, 2014 @11:31PM (#47291383)

    Can somebody explain to me how this could possibly fall outside the definition of "perjury"? This seems like exactly the situation for which "contempt of court" was created.

  • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stenvar (2789879) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @11:32PM (#47291389)

    Why would the federal government penalize itself? The DoJ presumably wants this to happen, as does the president; if he didn't, he could stop tomorrow.

  • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bartles (1198017) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @11:34PM (#47291395)
    Slap on the wrist? As far as I can tell, they are just ignoring it, which makes me think they are complicit.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 21, 2014 @11:43PM (#47291415)

    You still believe in justice ?

    Looking at the behavior of the government of the United States of America under the Obama Administration, you guys really think that Justice can still prevail ?

    Do you think Obama will allow that ?

  • by ShaunC (203807) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @11:45PM (#47291421)

    When (e.g.) a forensic examiner is discovered to have manipulated or faked various test results that were introduced by the prosecution, this often results in hundreds of prior cases being reviewed. Every case that person touched as an expert or as a witness is called into question. Verdicts are vacated, people get released from prison.

    Shouldn't that scenario be playing out here? Any case in which a supposed "confidential informant" was used in these Florida jurisdictions is now potentially in question. Defense attorneys should be lining up over this.

  • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @11:48PM (#47291435) Journal
    Federal Marshals ARE the DoJ [wikipedia.org]. It's the DoJ itself asking local police to lie. Why would they hand out penalties to themselves? That's like asking Holder to arrest himself for being in contempt of Congress [politico.com]. Not gonna happen.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @12:15AM (#47291519)

    We don't need warrants. We don't need to disclose our methods. We don't need to tell the truth.

    We're the fucking cops, and anything we do is OK because it's done in the name of justice.

    Wake up, America. Your police state is happening all around you.

  • Re:And? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dcmcilrath (2859893) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @12:18AM (#47291533)
    When is it ever advantageous to hit someone who can fight back?
  • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @12:24AM (#47291561) Homepage

    It's only illegal if they counseled the cops to do this in a specific case. If they just told the cops that's what they should do in general, then it isn't a crime.

    If you don't think subverting some of the basic principles of the justice system, as well as the checks and balances in the system to prevent abuses isn't a crime, you're sadly mistaken.

    This gets rid of your right to a fair trial. To not be subject to unreasonable search. To face the evidence against you. To trust that the cops aren't framing you.

    If the feds and the police forces have decided they should be able to do this, then they have effectively become the worst sort of thugs and miscreants out there -- because they're legitimate thugs and miscreants who are allowed to do anything they see fit, all in the name of claiming to be the good guys.

    No society where the police have unlimited power to cover up their own abuses and make any charge they want stick can last.

    When federal law enforcement is telling local police how to subvert the justice system in order to conceal illegal, secret methods which wouldn't hold up in court ... the whole legal system is fucked.

    When I was a kid, this kind of shit is what was attributed to the Soviets. And now, people seem to somehow accept this as normal.

    You may think fascism is an OK idea, but the rest of us don't want that.

    I think if a federal agent is telling law enforcement how to do an end-run around the Constitution, they should be hung for treason.

  • by jeIlomizer (3670951) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @12:27AM (#47291569)

    Its no different than all the youtube videos that show people how to break the law and start off with a "this is for education purposes only" line.

    It's significantly different, because these people are in positions of power in the government and have the ability to easily ruin people's lives.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @12:39AM (#47291601) Homepage Journal

    Why, exactly, do you think it alright to make this issue partisan? Did the Obama administration pass the Patriot Act? Did the Obama administration create the secret courts? Which surveillance laws, exactly, did Obama have passed?

    The fact of the matter is, GOVERNMENT is out of control. Two administrations, one led by each of the major parties, has abused the system, and encroached on the rights of American citizens. The first administration oversaw the enactment of these unjust laws, the second administration is merely pushing the boundaries of those laws.

    The problem is GOVERNMENT, the problem is not a specific administration.

    Let us address the real problem, and let's stop using Obama as the boogeyman. The real boogeymen are the DNC and the GOP.

  • Re:And? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by torsmo (1301691) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @12:43AM (#47291615)
    Can't the courts take sua sponte action in the matter, when it is clear that the dept. of justice is quite brazenly violating the law?
  • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday June 22, 2014 @12:48AM (#47291629) Homepage Journal

    Instructions were given to commit perjury

    I think they'll argue that it wasn't perjury. They weren't told to claim the information was from a "confidential informant" -- a snitch -- but a "confidential source", which isn't well-defined. I think the wording was chosen to mislead the judge into thinking they meant a CI, but without actually lying. Of course, intending to deceive may be perjury, even if what you say is the literal truth, but it's much harder to pin down.

  • Perjury anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:06AM (#47291671)
    Perjury anyone? Shouldn't there be a whole bus load of policemen going to jail? I am fairly certain that any of us would be going to jail if we deliberately falsified documents going to a judge for something as serious as a search warrant.

    This would be an excellent exercise in eliminating a whole swath of police who don't respect our rights. I would also hope that they put them in general population so that they can encounter first hand the monsters that their injustices have created.
  • Re:And? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bartles (1198017) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:12AM (#47291691)
    Actually by they, I mean the DOJ. Eric Holder has completely abdicated his responsibilities and has become the most politically motivated Attorney General in my lifetime.
  • by MachDelta (704883) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:28AM (#47291713)

    Depends on who you ask. Their excuse here is that they're not wiretapping anything, they're just playing 'Marco Polo' with your phone while moving around so they can triangulate where you are so then they can get a warrant. Supposedly, they aren't listening to your calls (not that you'd have any way of verifying that or even challenging it in court) so it doesn't count as wiretapping. In reality, this is taking a page out of the NSA's playbook and trying to skirt the law on a technicality.

  • by NormalVisual (565491) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:51AM (#47291765)
    Of course they're afraid of that. Heaven forbid we actually allow the accused to exercise their right to a fair trial.
  • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Required Snark (1702878) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:55AM (#47291771)
    You want contempt for the constitution? Where were you when Cheney said he was not a part of the executive, legislative or judicial branch of government, so none of the rules apply? (Sound of crickets.....)

    I'm pissed off a Holder as well, but obvious right wingers start calling him the most corrupt, all I smell is the stench of ripe hypocrisy. STFU until you are willing to call out someone on your side of the political fence.

  • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperdave (969942) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:59AM (#47291781) Journal
    They could (and should) declare a mistrial and release the defendant.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @02:12AM (#47291805)

    What they don't tell you about the Stingray is the all sorts of illegal things it has been developed to do as a "fake" cell tower. This thing is capable of far more than triangulating a cell phone's location, all of which is a huge invasion of privacy. Because of the Stingray tech, there is only one real way to protect yourself from surveillance while carrying a cell phone: removal of the battery.

    The cops are being encouraged by the government and Harris Corporation to keep from revealing these devices as a source because they want to avoid a situation where they have to reveal everything the Stingray is capable of doing.

    For those who can make the connection, let's just say that I've lived in Melbourne for years.

  • Re:Perjury anyone? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by camperdave (969942) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @02:27AM (#47291829) Journal
    The problem isn't just the police officers; the ones who instructed the police to lie should also be getting jail time. Sadly, as others have pointed out, the only ones with the authority to bring them to justice is they themselves.
  • Re:And? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @02:45AM (#47291867)

    " At the request of the Marshals Service, the officers using so-called stingrays have been routinely telling judges, in applications for warrants, that they obtained knowledge of a suspect's location from a 'confidential source' rather than disclosing that the information was gleaned using a stingray. "

    I would not have thought that the police needed to be told. Isn't eavesdropping on a telephone call without a warrant illegal? If the cops tell the judge that's what they've been doing the evidence becomes inadmissible.

    "It won't stop until the DoJ actually starts handing out serious penalties instead of a slap on the wrist for this sort of behavior. I'm talking jail time."

    How is the DOJ to know about it, if the cops don't admit it? (And of course they won't.) Who is to know that it's happening, given that no one is watching to make sure it isn't? I suspect this kind of thing is much more commonplace than people generally realize. The cops listen in on phone calls until they hear something incriminating, then knowing what's going on, they go out and find evidence that they can use.

    NR

  • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @03:20AM (#47291969)

    However judges can not prosecute in the US. Thus if the US Marshalls and local police are doing this, and the local prosecutors are happy that criminals are being caught so that they can be re-elected, then who's left to actually charge someone with a crime?

  • Re:And? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @05:05AM (#47292123)

    I wish there was someone on my side of the political fence. Democrats and Republicans are both pretty firmly on the right. It would be refreshing to have a leftist anywhere near power in the US.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @05:19AM (#47292137)

    It isn't a partisan issue, but if anyone can fix it, it's the current administration. Previous administrations are no longer in power and future administrations haven't been elected yet. Obama could stop it but doesn't, so of course it's his fault.

  • Forget subsequent trials. It will also undermine the previous trials and those convictions could be thrown out.

    All of those officers lied on the stand and should be charged as such.

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Sunday June 22, 2014 @07:11AM (#47292365) Journal

    A stingray is basically just a base station emulator, right? It should be theoretically easy to detect whether or not your phone is connected to one based on the output power setting on your phone's radio, and knowing the distance to the legitimate towers around you.

    Since all phone adjust their power output to the minimum necessary to maintain a link to the base station, If the power setting on your phone is too low for the distance, there is a good chance you are connected to something much closer to you.

    All we need is an app that knows where all of the towers are located (freely available information on the web) and that can make a reasonable calculation as to how much power should be required to maintain a link for a given phone position.

    Any thoughts?

  • Re:Perjury? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday June 22, 2014 @07:43AM (#47292413) Homepage Journal

    I guess about all we can really do is laugh, at least until the general public wakes up.

    Those who remember the lessons of history are doomed to watch everyone else repeat them.

  • Re:And? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @09:19AM (#47292691)

    When is it ever advantageous to hit someone who can fight back?

    It's one of the best ways to deal with a bully.

    Bullies look for soft targets, and push as far as they can go without retaliation. If you make it clear there is a line in the sand that will cause you to fight back, they rarely cross that particular demarcation. Only if they themselves have something to lose in the fight (say, it costs them so much face that they cannot continue their habit of bullying) or if they are psychopathic will they proceed to harass somebody who makes it clear they will retaliate.

    Usually the bully will push at you to see if you really mean to hold that particular line (and that pushing can be quite unpleasant) but ultimately he will back down if the rewards are not worth it (and they usually aren't). For the bullied, it's risking a short-term loss to avoid a longer period of unpleasantness.

    This works with government too, although - because they are liable to see any challenge as a threat to the rule of law and because of their overwhelming power - , the "push back" can be very unpleasant. But it needs to be done, because otherwise they will continue to encroach upon our rights. The reason they are so successful is that fighting back costs people their lives (financially and socially, if not literally) while it is society as a whole that benefits, and few enjoy martyring themselves for a cause.

  • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rahvin112 (446269) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @09:26AM (#47292717)

    The president is not omnipotent.

    There is a reason that pre-9/11 there were laws on the books that limited the powers of the FBI and other federal police service's. We relaxed a LOT of those restrictions after 9/11 and a we're reaping the corruption those laws used to prevent.

    There is not much that's scarier than a someone who thinks they are doing the right thing by violating someone else's rights. It's a quick jump right into real fascism (not the word bandied about around the internet that most people don't know what it means and are misusing it). What makes real fascism so scary is that the people behind it are true believers that they are doing the right thing.

Too much is not enough.

Working...