Well, FBI wiretaps actually cost money! Phone companies not only do the dirty work for our fearless government, but the FBi pays them for their work. Who knew?
Well, truth be told, the term “paid” is being used loosely, as the Feds have lately begun to act like a finicky teen who ran up their phone bill and can’t pay it:
According to the Washington Post’s Dan Eggen, audit results released today found that “telephone companies have repeatedly cut off FBI wiretaps of alleged terrorists and criminal suspects because of failures to pay telecommunication bills, including one invoice for $66,000 at one unidentified field office….The report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General Glenn Fine also identified one case in which an order obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was halted because of ‘untimely payment.’”
Oh, in case you were wondering: there was also mention in the report of other incompetence at the FBI, too. You know, piddly stuff… like, guns and laptops with citizens’ personal data on them missing. Nothing terribly important. You know.
So here we were, all worried that our civil rights were being violated, but in reality the FBI can’t even pay a phone bill on time. Or, if you come from the right side of the aisle, consider this: actual terrorist targets are probably able to talk freely because the FBI can’t pay their damn bills. Greeeeat.
It also makes you wonder: how much does a single wiretap cost? Also, how much taxpayer money is the federal government pouring into telcos to spy on people as a whole?
Unfortunately, the cited article above goes into a rant about how we should send telcos a “citizen’s” bill and make them pay, linking this to the big issue of whether telcos should be granted immunity from lawsuits over wiretapping. Frankly, I don’t understand the hard-on that civil liberties unions have over suing the telephone companies. Let’s face it: they were doing what the government TOLD them to do. If a big menacing government-guy walks into the average IT drone’s work space and talks of terrorism and Homeland Security and then waves an officially looking piece of paper around, giving orders all authoritative-like, chances are, the IT guy is gonna cave. That’s just how it is.
If the Civil Liberties’ people want to sue someone, they should lobby hard to permit lawsuits on the issue against the government, and failing that, the individual people within government who gave the orders for wiretaps in the first place. Civil liberties groups keep referring to this as illegal wiretapping… so why are they ignoring that our government officials spawned the illegality in the first place?