Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Law?! FBI Don't Need No Law:Conducts Surveillance Without Court Order Under Name David Lindley Using Different Signatures

Law?! FBI Don't Need No Law:Conducts Surveillance Without Court Order Under Name David Lindley Using Different Signatures

Law?! FBI Don't Need No Law:Conducts Secret Warrantless Surveillance Without Court Order


FBI spy planes: Who's mystery man 'Robert Lindley'? The FBI has used surveillance planes in some 30 US cities during a recent 30-day period. Most of the aircraft are registered to a 'Robert Lindley.' By Peter Grier, Staff writer JUNE 2, 2015

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has a secret air force of light planes that conducts overhead surveillance for a wide range of law-enforcement matters in many, if not most, of the big cities in the United States.
That’s the bottom line from today’s big Associated Press report on the extent of activities of the FBI’s eyes in the sky. It’s a revelation that’s likely to feed the ongoing national debate about the extent of government snooping – including National Security Agency activities – and its implications for US citizens’ privacy............
It’s also possible this exposure will push changes in FBI procedures. Top US law-enforcement officials were already set on revealing more about agency use of one of the most powerful tools the airborne surveillance aircraft carry, secret cellphone tracking devices called “dirtboxes.”
The Justice Department has “launched a wide-ranging review into how law-enforcement agencies deploy the technology,” reported The Wall Street Journal’s Devlin Barrett last month.

Federal law-enforcement use of planes for surveillance per se hasn’t exactly been a secret.The Wall Street Journal and some independent reporters said last year that the US Marshall’s Service used Cessnas to snoop on criminal suspects' phone activity. The aircraft carry electronic devices that mimic the cellphone tower signature of a particular service provider, fooling phones on the ground into connecting with them and transmitting unique registration information. The devices, known as dirtboxes due to the initials of the Boeing subsidiary which produces them, generally collect cellphone location data. They don’t suck up the contents of calls themselves.
But AP journalists took this information and went further. They noticed suspicious looking small planes circling in slow, counterclockwise circles over US cities, and in particular over Baltimore during last month’s civil unrest. They began tracing tail numbers, identifying antennas and other equipment on the planes, and uncovering a trail of fake companies used to hide the government origin of the flights.
They discovered that the FBI had used surveillance planes in at least 30 US cities, covering 11 states, during a recent 30-day period. These aircraft appeared to carry high-quality video equipment for filming activity on the ground. Some could be outfitted with “dirtbox”-like cellphone attracting equipment, though the AP didn’t specify how many of the flights they tracked might have involved such surveillance.
The FBI asked the AP to not disclose the names of the secret firms, saying it would just cost tax money to reestablish such fronts to protect pilots and planes. The AP declined, saying that the firms were listed in government documents and public databases. At least one shared an address with a Justice Department office.
Most of the aircraft registrations included a mysterious name, Robert Lindley, according to the AP. He appeared to have at least three distinct signatures, according to registration documents reviewed by reporters. Another name on some of the documents, Robert Taylor, seemed to have been written in handwriting similar to that of one of the Lindley patterns.
The AP called people named “Lindley” in the D.C. area but at press time hadn’t turned up anything.
“The FBI would not say whether Lindley is a government employee,” wrote AP reporters Jack Gillum, Eileen Sullivan, and Eric Tucker.
Are the flights an abuse of law enforcement power? A senior law enforcement official quoted by CNN insisted that they were not. There is “rigorous oversight and approval” prior to use of such flights, said the official. But no judge or search warrant is involved in the process.
Whether law enforcement can obtain cellphone location data without a warrant is an issue that’s going to end up in the Supreme Court, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. A review of actual information obtained by police in a particular case shows that it’s easy to determine where a suspect worships, whom he sleeps with, and other highly specific aspects of travel and life, wrote ACLU attorney Nathan Freed Wessler in March.
“Records revealing these kinds of sensitive details of our lives are exactly what the Fourth Amendment was intended to protect,” according to Mr. Wessler.


Does the FBI have a secret air force?

Surveillance is conducted without a court order, from within the Department of Justice

UPDATED 2:01 PM CDT Jun 02, 2015

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FBI file
Chris Turner/CNN


WASHINGTON (CNN) —The FBI uses a fleet of planes registered under fictitious companies in order to conduct warrantless surveillance during federal, state and local investigations. The surveillance is conducted without a court order, but with oversight from within the Department of Justice, according to a senior law enforcement official.

Aerial surveillance by the FBI is nothing new, but a review by the Associated Press published this week reported that the scale of the fleet is larger than previously known and the planes are registered in a way to mask that they are owned by the FBI.
The agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states over a 30 day period, according to the AP review, and their report also said planes was masked by the existence of at least 13 fictitious companies.
The Department of Justice Inspector General published an oversight report on the FBI's aviation operations in 2012, but it was heavily redacted. Specific information on the size of the fleet, its cost and how often it was used were blacked out in the public version of the report.
In a statement, FBI spokesperson Christopher Allen said the bureau's aviation unit is no secret and described the secrecy as "protected for operational security purposes."
"FBI routinely uses aviation assets in support of predicated investigations targeting specific individuals. The aircraft are not equipped, designed, or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance. The FBI uses all tools and equipment, and conducts all investigations, in accordance with the Attorney General Guidelines and the FBI's Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide.
The senior law enforcement official confirmed the existence of the fleet of planes to the CNN and said they are registered under fictitious companies because the FBI wants to be as discreet as possible.
"Anytime you mask your activity for operational or safety reasons you use a front company," said the official. "You don't want to put people on to what you're doing --- we know we're going to need air aviation support for cases."
The planes, which are equipped for electronic surveillance, are used both for FBI investigations and also at the request of state and local officials, according to the FBI. During recent Baltimore riots, for instance, the FBI used the surveillance aircraft at the request of the Baltimore Police Department. The aircraft were also used during the search for disappeared California teenager Hannah Anderson in 2013.
The FBI released video of Anderson's rescue that was captured from a surveillance plane.
The FBI has also previously acknowledged using drones for domestic surveillance.
According to the senior law enforcement official, the FBI does not need a court issued warrant to fly these surveillance planes because of rules established by the Department of Justice. The same official says that before a plane is used, it is signed off on by various levels of DOJ.
The law enforcement official says if someone knew a plane belonged to the FBI it would easily compromise the investigative utility of plane and it would leave those planes vulnerable to sabotage. It's a safety issue for the pilots, according to the official.
"The fact that FBI has aviation assets has never been a secret," according to the official. "We don't publicize it for obvious reasons you don't want to draw attention to tools you use in the investigation. The official said that while there is no judge involved in the process, there is "rigorous oversight and approval" before the surveillance flights are used.

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