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Feds Check Credit Reports Without a Subpoena 290

Posted by kdawson
from the thanks-Patriot-Act dept.
An anonymous reader points out that, by using National Security Letters, the FBI and other agencies can legally pull your credit report. The letters have been used by the FBI (mostly) but in some cases by the CIA and Defense Department. From the article: "'These statutory tools may provide key leads for counterintelligence and counterterrorism investigations,' Whitman said. 'Because these are requests for information rather than court orders, a DOD request under the NSL statutes cannot be compelled absent court involvement.'" Recipients of the letters, banks and credit bureaus, usually hand over the requested information voluntarily. A posting at tothecenter.com quotes the Vice President on the use of the letters: "It's perfectly legitimate activity. There's nothing wrong or illegal with it. It doesn't violate people's civil rights... The Defense Department gets involved because we've got hundreds of bases inside the United States that are potential terrorist targets."
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Feds Check Credit Reports Without a Subpoena

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  • He would never spy on American citizens unless he had a really really good reason to.
    • by IcyNeko (891749) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:21PM (#17632140) Journal
      Hey guys, why do i suddenly have an account in the Cayman islands in the name of "Bobby Bo's Bread Shop"? And when did i suddenly take a $2 million loan from a Saudi oil company?

      Guys?... Gu-...
    • I'm completely fine with anybody in the government checking out my purchasing activities. You have nothing to hide, so why should you be concerned with this? It's not like government has a history of abusing power, and if they did abuse it, there's no way it would hurt me or you.

      There, now it's out of the way, and we can mod down anybody else that says it. It's been explained so many times on /. why this is a bad idea that there's no excuse anymore to see it as anything short of troll.
  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arkham6 (24514) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:17PM (#17632072)
    Why is this any different than any other organization pulling my credit report? I check my reports every 3-4 months, and I see all sorts of people yanking my credit report. Mostly to send me junk mail that i throw away.

    Its not like the government is going through my mail or listening to my phone calls...

    OK, bad example.
    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Spritzer (950539) * on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:22PM (#17632168) Journal
      The difference is the data that is available to them. AFAIK banks and credit card companies get basic info concerning your current debt load and payment history. As you would know, a full credit report reveals full account information including creditor info, account numbers, and relatively current debt load for each account. Over time this information can reveal increases in account activity and other very personal bits of information.
    • by lawpoop (604919)
      Because there really aren't any other organizations that have the power of a government, aside from other governments.
      • by ArcherB (796902) *
        Because there really aren't any other organizations that have the power of a government,

        Actually, they have more power than the government. When you apply for a car, they run your credit report. You apply for an apartment, they run a credit report. You apply for a job, they run a credit report. All of these companies that are running credit reports can use them against you. The Gov't can't.

        • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by lawpoop (604919) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:47PM (#17632606) Homepage Journal
          The worst a business can do you is refuse to do business with you, spread bad word about you, or even sue you.

          A government can arrest you, imprison you, and even kill you. Governments all around the world are waging wars, rounding people up, and torturing them. What business can do that?

          "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
          -- George Washington
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by bunions (970377)
          > When you apply for a car, they run your credit report. You apply for an apartment, they run a credit report. You apply for a job, they run a credit report.

          Yeah, but you give them permission to those people.

          Still, of the players in the Cavalcade Of Civil Rights Abuses we've been priviledged to be audience to over the past few years, this one definitely plays a bit part.
    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:30PM (#17632304) Homepage Journal
      Because no one but the government will knock down your door and put a gun to your head after checking your credit report.

      I hope you have a bank account who's number is just one digit off from a terrorists. One mistyped number and you'll change your opinion.
      • by megaditto (982598) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:45PM (#17632572)
        Also, is anybody reminded of those Nixon tapes where the guy laments that the "jews" at the IRS would not release his political opponents' tax returns to the President (IRS being)

        As today, I would guess back then Nixon wanted the info to stop the terrorists and keep America safe...
        • by Bassman59 (519820)

          Also, is anybody reminded of those Nixon tapes where the guy laments that the "jews" at the IRS would not release his political opponents' tax returns to the President (IRS being)

          As today, I would guess back then Nixon wanted the info to stop the terrorists and keep America safe...

          Compared to Bush, Nixon was a flaming liberal ...

      • Actually, I can think of someone else who might knock down your door and put a gun to your head after checking your credit report.

        The difference is that they'll also break your kneecaps.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Why is this any different than any other organization pulling my credit report?

      Maybe because, contrary to recent efforts to make you think otherwise, the government isn't "like any other organization"?

      Of course, those things the government can't do themselves, they just hire [blackwaterusa.com] contracted corporations [acxiom.com] to do for them.
    • There should not be ANY inquiries that you did not specifically authorize.

      There are lots of circumstances where a company will ask for your authorization to pull your report. Renting, credit app, loan app, etc. But you should have authorized each of those.

      If other people are pulling your report, that is a HUGE problem because your report has information about account numbers, balances and just about everything they'd need for "identity theft".
      • There are at least two kinds of requests for a credit report. There are requests initiated by you to get credit - like when you apply for a loan. These requests actually count in your credit score (make lots of requests for credit and your credit score goes down.) Then there are promotional/screening requests, which can be made by anyone. These don't include all of the information that would be there if you requested a report yourself, but anybody can ask for these and get them (after paying a fee to th
    • by zCyl (14362) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:38PM (#17632462)
      Why is this any different than any other organization pulling my credit report?

      Check the original article, not the title. The title says "credit report", but the original article says "banking and credit records", which includes a complete list of all money in and out, and who that money came from or goes to, which usually gives information about the types of things you are spending money on. This can reveal what type of magazines you buy, how much you drink, whether or not you're seeing a shrink, whether you're seeing medical specialists, what you pay for on the internet, etc... So yes, it is equivalent to going through your mail and listening to phone calls.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:18PM (#17632084)
    we've got hundreds of bases inside the United States that are potential terrorist targets

    And we don't want those bases blown up by terrorists with bad credit.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:18PM (#17632088) Homepage
    I'm absolutely gobsmacked that the current US government continues doing things which shouldn't even be remotely constitutional, and claiming that it's perfectly legal.

    I mean, every time I hear a legal opinion coming out of the White House, I'm forced to conclude that it, or something like it, has been struck down by the courts in the past. I don't believe there is any mechanism whereby the DoD can be pulling credit checks on citizens on the preteext that with so many bases, they need to protect them. This is crazy.

    I'm glad my passport expired. I won't be travelling to your country any more -- your gestapo scares me.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Absolutely.

      During wartime, civil liberties always get pushed back. But now we've got an open-ended "war on terror" that's lasted for five years already, with no end in sight. And Bush & Co are pushing the envelope as far they can in the direction of rolling back 4th Amendment protections on unreasonable searches. They do it because they figure they can get away with it, and they probably can, unless the Congress or the Supreme Court suddenly acquires a spine.
    • by MeauxToo (644228) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:45PM (#17632568)

      I want to preface my comments by saying I am card carrying member of the ACLU, a Jeffersonian libritarian, and am no fan of this administration and its tactics. Furthermore, my comments are based on the fact that every example cited in the various press outlets has been a cleared individual (Aldrige Aimes and the Army chaplain at Gitmo). My comments do not to apply any cases that involve non-cleared citizens.

      People involved in these investigations have clearances. As such, they have voluntarily signed away portions of their civil liberties related to wire tapping and regular background checks for counter intelligence purposes. If you have a clearance from US government, you have elected to restrict your civil liberties and rights to serve the country. Pulling your credit report is the least invasive action they can do without consulting the courts. At worst, they can revoke your clearance through an administrative procedure which has the net effect of a criminal conviction on your record.

      As an aside, most US government clearances are issued through the DoD agency known as DISCO. Some agencies (e.g. Treasury, State, and Energy) have their clearance agencies, but most others use DISCO (e.g. Homeland Security, CIA, NSA). Since most clearances are administered by DoD, it then makes since that DoD would be the source of the most investigations into cleared people. All DISCO investigations are performed by the FBI.

      While it may seem swarmy, everyone involved has elected to be placed under higher government scrutiny. Furthermore, as someone who has previously held a clearance, I can attest to the fact that you are advised at numerous points in the process that you are subject to a higher level of scrutiny. These are the types of procedures that are the first steps in identifying the Richard Hanseens and Aldridge Aimes in a world that legally operates under a stricter set of rules with potentially grave consequences for violation. Most importantly, no one forced these people into that world, they volunteered for it with full knowledge of the constraints.

      • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:54PM (#17632716) Homepage
        I want to preface my comments by saying I am card carrying member of the ACLU, a Jeffersonian libritarian, and am no fan of this administration and its tactics. Furthermore, my comments are based on the fact that every example cited in the various press outlets has been a cleared individual (Aldrige Aimes and the Army chaplain at Gitmo). My comments do not to apply any cases that involve non-cleared citizens.

        Really? As I read the ABC article, it said nothing about citizens who hold any clearance. It merely references people who show up in investigations.

        I'm not saying you're wrong, because I don't know which is correct, but I see nothing to indicate that all of the people being examined like this are government personnel who have clearances. If it was purely ongoing verification of people with clearances, fine. But, if it spills over into "hmmm, he spoke to a brown man on the corner, let's pull up his records", it's a bad thing. And, one which I believe would be completely illegal

        I'm just not 100% sure that the articles seem to indicate it's limited to ongoing verification of people who hold security clearance. I interpret it to be "whoever becomes a 'person of interest'".

        Cheers
        • by MeauxToo (644228)

          I want to preface my comments by saying I am card carrying member of the ACLU, a Jeffersonian libritarian, and am no fan of this administration and its tactics. Furthermore, my comments are based on the fact that every example cited in the various press outlets has been a cleared individual (Aldrige Aimes and the Army chaplain at Gitmo). My comments do not to apply any cases that involve non-cleared citizens.

          Really? As I read the ABC article, it said nothing about citizens who hold any clearance. It merely references people who show up in investigations.

          I'm not saying you're wrong, because I don't know which is correct, but I see nothing to indicate that all of the people being examined like this are government personnel who have clearances. If it was purely ongoing verification of people with clearances, fine. But, if it spills over into "hmmm, he spoke to a brown man on the corner, let's pull up his records", it's a bad thing. And, one which I believe would be completely illegal

          I'm just not 100% sure that the articles seem to indicate it's limited to ongoing verification of people who hold security clearance. I interpret it to be "whoever becomes a 'person of interest'".

          Cheers

          As I said in my preface, all of the specific examples in the articles I have seen were/are cleared individuals. Furthermore, the process described sounds identical to the initial stages an investigation to revoke a clearance. Finally, the article consistently uses the term counter-intelligence which generally means finding spies amongst the spooks. Hence, the reasoning for my comment.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by chgros (690878)
        Pulling your credit report is the least invasive action they can do without consulting the courts.
        You mean most invasive without consulting the courts. The least invasive would be to do nothing.
    • by wwahammy (765566)
      My gestapo scares me too so that makes two of us.
    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      If I recall correctly, one of the issues that lead up to the Revolutionary War was something called a "lettre de cache". In today's world it seems a innocent and quaint concept.
    • by BWJones (18351) *
      I also have to agree that this has been going on for quite some time in the process of performing background checks on those individuals who are applying for clearances through DISCO. I remember back in my undergraduate days being stunned to be told that one of the principal indicators of whether or not I would receive clearance is "good credit". The reasoning is sound enough on a number of levels including your level of vulnerability, your honesty, sense of honor and duty etc...etc...etc...

      As much of a c
  • fun with words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:19PM (#17632116) Homepage
    'These statutory tools may provide key leads for counterintelligence and counterterrorism investigations,' Whitman said. 'Because these are requests for information rather than court orders, a DOD request under the NSL statutes cannot be compelled absent court involvement.

    Is that how they get around the privacy angle? Just rename it to an "information request", and somehow that makes the problem go away. Just like torture is "creative interrogation".
    • 'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'
      'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
      'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by element-o.p. (939033)
      Actually, the catch is here: a DOD request under the NSL statutes cannot be compelled absent court involvement (emphasis mine, --M)

      That means the banks, financial institutions, etc. who are are asked to provide this information have the right to refuse, no? (IANAL, so I would welcome confirmation or clarification from someone who is). My wrath isn't directed at the government (this time)--it's with the financial institutions that think it's okay to give out my confidential data just because someone wit
    • Conspiracy theory (Score:4, Insightful)

      by abb3w (696381) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @04:50PM (#17635138) Journal

      The analysis over at The Volokh Conspiracy [volokh.com] seemed to make sense. In particular "...instead of just informally requesting information in a context that would make clear the request is voluntary, the DoD and CIA seem to be issuing their requests using letters that look a lot like "real" National Security Letters. If that's right, the government would know that the letters have no legal effect, but they would be written so as to try to trick the recipients into thinking that they do."

      This looks like more bending of the current administration's penchant for the rules to the breaking point (or past), using the excuse of a drastic threat to society. While I'm slightly sympathetic to such for dire threats, there is no evidence of this being for the unimaginably rare (dinosaur killer asteroid heading for earth) or for even the horrifically unthinkable (better than 50-50 chance of a million plus deaths). Instead, it's an attempt to covertly and permanently expand domestic intelligence powers when the legislature has refused to endorse such expansion.

      Everyone should remember: "defending the Constitution against all threats, foreign and domestic" can include defending against yourself and your own darker impulses, and against any of lesser honor who may come to serve after you.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The reason this is a problem is because the article summary has it wrong. TFA says "credit records" not "credit reports" which means they're not just looking to see, for instance, what your FICO score is, but looking at your actual purchases, etc.. *ugh*
  • by the computer guy nex (916959) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:22PM (#17632172)
    The power of investigating certain financial records (such as credit reports) without a warrent was around before PATRIOT, most notably for suspected drug dealers.

    It would be silly for the government not to exercise that same power against potential terrorists as long as the power was legal.

    So don't thank PATRIOT, thank precedent set by the older drug-fighting legislation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576)

      The power of investigating certain financial records (such as credit reports) without a warrent was around before PATRIOT, most notably for suspected drug dealers.
      It would be silly for the government not to exercise that same power against potential terrorists as long as the power was legal.

      Notice a pattern here, citizen?

      So don't thank PATRIOT, thank precedent set by the older drug-fighting legislation.

      Oh, you mean the unconstitutional illegal-search-and-seizure RICO redefinition dreamed up by Bu

      • I was defending PATRIOT, not the power itself. I absolutely see your point.

        Even though it is not a popular piece of legislation (especially here), I have read through the PATRIOT act and agree with a great majority of it. From a legal perspective it is applying powers that the Government already has to a new type of criminal. In the days following 9/11 it was the right thing to do.

        Many of the more abusive powers written into the legislation have been numbed down or even removed.
    • Most of these things get worse under every president. Yet another to stop voting for BOTH big parties. Also a reason to slap the stupid off the face of anyone that suggests that voting for either the Democrats or Republicans is anything other than a vote for tyranny.
  • "If the president does it, then it's not illegal"...
    • So does that mean drunk-driving and cocaine use are legal?
      • In all fairness, he hasn't admittedly done those since he got to be president, so most likely they'd still be illegal. Also, I think Nixon implied that it's not illegal for the President to do something that would be illegal if anyone else did it... very disturbing.
  • Two Questions... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gillbates (106458) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:26PM (#17632242) Homepage Journal

    I have two questions:

    1. Of what use is someone's credit report to the Feds, (assuming they are actually trying to enforce the law), and,
    2. Why does it matter when your credit report is readily available to any business? Wouldn't we expect law enforcement to have the same access, if not greater, than businesses already do?

    When I think about it, everything in my credit report is the result of a public transaction. While I believe credit reports are being used inappropriately by employers, etc... I can't see how anyone believes this information to be private. In fact, most corporations who report to credit reporting agencies publicize this fact because they believe it deters fraud.

    Now, whether or not the credit reporting agencies should be gathering this information, and how society depends on it, are a whole different matter.

    • Well you're right, there was nothing unpublic about using cash, everyone in the supermarket could see what you were buying. Watching somebody's purchases took a great deal of effort, planning, and money. The benefit to self would have to have been immense ("we're sure this guy is a terrorist") and the actions would have to produce result for them to not raise suspicion.

      Now you can track everybody's purchases very quickly and cheaply, and the actions performed in the searching will not bring attention to the
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PPH (736903)

      When I think about it, everything in my credit report is the result of a public transaction.

      What gives you that idea? Each transaction made between myself and some business or financial institution is a private transaction unless we both agree otherwise. The nature of the data provided by credit card companies to data collection agencies is spelled out in my card agreement and it is limited to data useful in determining my creditworthiness. There is no place in that agreement that allows them to release

  • Accuracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:27PM (#17632250) Homepage Journal
    In my experience credit reports are horribly inaccurate because there appears to be no validation at all. My mortgage application was put on hold when my credit report revealed an unpaid Macy's credit card from 1968. I wasn't even born yet. So at the top of the page is my correct birthday with obviously incorrect information below it. The credit agency refused to fix the data. I had to call Macy's and find someone who would send a letter to the credit agency to say I didn't open an account before I was born.

    I also know someone who has the exact same name as someone else with just a one digit difference in SSNs. Bad info about this other stranger shows up on his credit report every few years. The credit agencies refuse to fix the data problems themselves.

    So the last thing I want is the federal government flagging me as a potential terrorist because of some type-o that no one is willing to fix. Not only should these queries require court oversight, but they should be made directly to the institutions where the accounts are held so they're very specific and more likely accurate.
    • by MythMoth (73648)
      That doesn't seem totally unreasonable from their POV because they don't know that your birthday is correct in their file.
      • reasonability (Score:2, Informative)

        by brokeninside (34168)
        It's is also perfectly reasonable for them to assume that the data is correct until told otherwise. There are many ways that a person can be liable for an account opened prior to their birth. For example, a parent or grandparent could have opened an account prior to some-one's date of birth and then later added that person to the account as a joint holder. As a joint account holder, that younger person would be financially liable for an account opened before they were born.

        Situations like these are not al

    • When ever I hear about initiatives to build mega-databases by pasting various public and private databases together.

      They are simply not accurrate. Example 1, about 10 years ago I moved and applied for a new drivers license. A person with the same name popped up with a warrant. Good thing he was 5ft 6in tall at 140 lbs and I am 6ft 1inch tall and 210 lbs. Otherwise I might have spent a night in jail.

      Example 2, the social security office has some inaccurrate information on me. I recently started applying for
  • US Consitution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ellem (147712) * <ellem52@gmail . c om> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:27PM (#17632258) Homepage Journal
    Has nothing to say abut Credit Reports. Anyone with 100USD can get your credit report pulled. Take a look.
    • If Countrywide Mortgages can pull my report when ever they feel like it, why does the government need a subpoena?

      Or, look at it this way: If the government needs a subpoena to look at my credit report than why the heck is everyone else allowed to look at it whenever they want?
    • Well if all it takes $100USD I say we all chip in and get Bush and Cheney's Credit reports pulled and see if we get stopped or not. If they can pull ours then we have EVERY right to pull theirs!
  • ... if you have nothing to hide. Right?
  • by mikelieman (35628) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:30PM (#17632300) Homepage
    1) Federal Constitution. Don't see it as an enumerated, delegated power.
    2) Amendments to Federal Constitution. Don't see it as an enumerated, delegated power.

    So, WHY is the Federal Government wasting OUR VALUABLE TAX DOLLARS on things not explicitly delegated to them?

    • Um... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PCM2 (4486)
      - Paving the potholes in the highways. Don't see that as an enumerated, delegated power in the text of the Constitution or its amendments.

      - Delivering the mail. Don't see that as an enumerated, delegated power in the text of the Constitution or its amendments.

      - Building prisons. Don't see that as an enumerated, delegated power in the text of the Constitution or its amendments.

      - Establishing and operating the U.S. Coast Guard. Don't see that as an enumerated, delegated power in the text of the Constitution o
      • by wwahammy (765566)
        To be fair, the government doesn't deliver the mail anymore. Sure its a government created monopoly but its not a government agency.
  • by flogger (524072) <non@nonegiven> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:31PM (#17632332) Journal
    National Security letters (NSLs) have been around a while and the Bush administration has used them extensively. a little over a year ago the Washington Post had a huge story about the extensive use of these with little valid result. [washingtonpost.com] The kicker about the NSLs is that there is always a provision to remain secritive that you are handing over the information. If the FBI give my boss an NSL wanting records of all of of my outgoing phone calls, he must give the records and INFORM NO ONE that this happened. If me boss refuses to had over the records or "squeals", he goes to jail.
  • Hmph. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zCyl (14362) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:32PM (#17632350)
    It sounds to me like some banks and credit companies need to be rebuked for this. Credit and bank statements can contain substantially private information about an individual, as personal as medical records or intimate phone conversations.

    In the only example given in the article of the successful use of this technique, Aldrich Ames, he was under careful surveillance by the FBI, and well known to be living beyond his stated income. There should have been no difficulty obtaining a search warrant as described in that constitution thing that law enforcement officials seem to find so inconvenient. And the banks and credit companies should EXPECT and DEMAND that law enforcement officials provide this search warrant as standard process, as much as most individuals would expect and demand this before letting police read ones private love letters.

    The Bill of Rights loses its power if all the major corporations just voluntarily ignore it on behalf of their customers.
  • by MBraynard (653724) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:37PM (#17632438) Journal
    You do not own your credit report - Equifax, etc. own it. Their business model is BUILT around selling it to almost anyone.

    You don't own your account information with your bank unless your bank explicitly tells you they don't share it with anyone - but they won't, because they regularly share this info with law enforcement.

    If I were, for some wierd reason, sit across the street from you and record each day when you leave and when you return, I could give the info to anyone and the government would not need a warrent to use it in court. Observing someone's behavior in either commercial or otherwise public transactions is legitemate.

    Do you think the IRS needs a warrent to go after you for a fraudulent tax form - just to see the tax form?

  • I don't have a thing to hide, and I'm sick and tired of terrorists getting away with things. It's high time that the citizenry of the U.S. enable the government to do its job.
    • by jbarr (2233)
      It really sucks when the people at work post something on your account while you're not looking! There goes my karma.
      • by EmagGeek (574360)
        When I was in college, they called it the "Baggy Pants" treatment... If someone left their account logged in, someone would post something to the newsgroup along the lines of "I have baggy pants!" or something even more creative like "My pants are ooooh sooo baggy..." and they get more creative and outlandish from there...
        • by jbarr (2233)
          When I was in college, they called it the "Baggy Pants" treatment... If someone left their account logged in, someone would post something to the newsgroup along the lines of "I have baggy pants!" or something even more creative like "My pants are ooooh sooo baggy..." and they get more creative and outlandish from there...
          LOL! And mine feel ooooh sooo baggy! Thanks for
    • Security (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mark_MF-WN (678030)
      So you'd be okay with security cameras in public bathrooms? After all, you have nothing to hide, and terrorists have to use bathrooms sometimes. What better way to track them than by catching them on camera when they "check-in" every few hours?

      The system could build up dynamic biometric profiles of people based on the way they stand, how they move, how many times they shake it out afterwards, whether they hum or not, the kinds of trace chemicals in their urine, etc.

      Hey, and think of all the drug dealers t
  • by eriklou (1027240) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:45PM (#17632564)
    Sweet! All I have to do is forge a letter from the FBI and I can get my credit report for free, if only that was legal...
  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:45PM (#17632574)
    The Defense Department gets involved because we've got hundreds of bases inside the United States that are potential terrorist targets.

    Let's apply the same logic to other threats to our armed forces. For example: speeding on our nations highways. There are almost 2 million military personell in this country, and they're exposed to risks on our highways just like the rest of us. Statistically, on average each of us has about a 1 in 10,000 risk of being killed each year in an auto accident. That would mean that just since 9/11, probably over 1000 of our troops have been killed in accidents, not to mention thousands more serious casualties. This is a bigger loss to our military than almost any conceivable terrorist threat to our military bases would be, and about 1/3 as much as we've lost in Iraq.

    Now, we can presume that most accidents involve excessive speeds. Clearly, to mitigate this huge drain on the nation's defenses, we must fight speeding. I say that it's high time that we took advantage of the assets we have to cut down on this threat. We should task the Air Force to use their fleet of unmanned drones to patroll the skies over our highways. With the advanced imaging technology, they should be able to track and evaluate nearly every vehicle on our major freeways. Once people start getting tickets with a NORAD return address nearly every time they violate the law, they're going to start thinking twice about putting our troops at risk on our roadways. It would be a huge tragedy if we as a nation are unwilling or unable to use every tool at our disposal to protect our troops.

  • Cheney's Law (Score:5, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:50PM (#17632660) Homepage Journal
    "Cheney's Law" is "I am the Law".

    I just watched Sen Feinstein (D-CA) telling the (probably empty, except the C-SPAN camera) Senate floor about how Chief Inqusitor^W^WAttorney General Gonzales has been firing US Attorneys in various districts, without any just cause (except "just 'cause I say so"), replacing them with "interim" Attorneys to last the rest of Bush's administration, avoiding the required Senate confirmation, to determine the outcomes of specific cases in their calendars. Like the "recess appointments" of Bush admin hacks like UN bomber^WAmbassador John Bolton and others. A "loophole" designed into the Patriot Act II (With a Vengance) voted in by the Republican Congress in 2006, which threw away the old "120 days maximum" for "interim" Attorney appointments, in favor of... as long as the Attorney General pleases, with whoever he pleases, whenever he pleases. Pleases himself, that is, not people interested in justice or Constitutional rule.

    And this morning I read how Republicans want courts martial to try civilians [chron.com]. I expect they'll lock up trying war profiteers like Halliburton, find them "not guilty/liable", and use our Constitution's "no double jeopardy" rules to exclude real courts from trying them and exposing the evidence to shareholders and citizens. Then I won't be surprised when Bush/Cheney/Gonzales find excuses to apply military courts all over the globe. From US occupations like Afghanistan and Iraq, to battlegrounds in other countries like probably Iran and Syria, to anarchies where they're bombing like Somalia. Then widening to other Terror War territories, wherever they can find them. All in defiance of international laws, US treaties, and our Constitution itself, which is universal, yielding only in the face of sovereign foreign jurisdiction.

    After all, Cheney/Gonzales/Bush don't even have any use for the required FISA [wikipedia.org] court that bends over backwards to grant warrants, even after the fact, when spying on Americans. Why shouldn't this gang of "Conservatives" use the laws they've passed the past 6 years with their wholly-owned Congressional subsidiary to do whatever they want, regardless of how tyrannical?

    After all, there's no law against Cheney lying to us on TV talk shows - as far as Cheney cares, anyway.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dachannien (617929)
      to determine the outcomes of specific cases in their calendars

      Last I checked, juries determined the outcome of cases, and judges determined the outcome of appeals.

      Also, changing a legislative loophole is in the purview of the legislature. The consent of US district attorneys is provided for by statute, not by Constitutional mandate, and if the law says that the executive branch can make these nominations without Senate approval, then they can:

      and [the President] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice a

  • I'm constantly getting junk mail from people who don't know me, I don't do business with them, and they have no reason to know my credit level- but they do. In periods of time where I can't pay, the flow trickles. When I can pay, the flow fills trashcans. They know.

    Now, if my credit score is common knowledge, and the government CAN'T get to it, there's something wrong.

    The more direct question about why they'd care about my credit score- I can't imagine what it would help them with...all the guns I run are
  • For folks saying "big deal":

    1. Wrong agency. This isn't the FBI here, or another domestic law enforcement agency, it's the armed forces. Protecting bases is a BS excuse.
    2. No warrants. The only reason you don't ask for a warrant is when the judge would likely say "no".

    This is the problem. This what makes it different from legal inquiries of your credit record by the government.

  • What I want to know is what are they really looking for? Does anyine think that terrorists, and by that I mean the ones smart enough to plan and carry out an attack of substance, are going to buy that 1,000 tons of fertalizer on their credit cards? A truck rental, sure, they have no choice, but explosives, ammunition and whatnot? No. Terrorsim, like the drug trade, is a cash and cary environment.

    So, if terrorists are not their real target, who is? What are they looking for? What do they really want to
  • by Spritzer (950539) * on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:56PM (#17632752) Journal
    What every one of us seems to be missing is the bigger question. Why are financial institutions allowed to provide your private financial records to another private organization? If I were to ask my bank for another customer's financial records they'd laugh. Why? Because it is ILLEGAL to provide that information to me. Why do we allow these institutions to give our private data to the credit bureaus in the first place. Find the administration responsible for allowing that to happen and you'll find the root of this problem
  • So if someone runs a credit check on you, your credit score gets lowered. When the government does it, does my credit score gets lowered to?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      When I applied for a job with the NSA, I pulled my credit report a few days later and there was some vague item on there that basically said "Federal Investigation". I hope it didn't get mistaken for a criminal investigation.
  • is that this is news.

    Almost anyone can check on anyone's credit report. All you have to do is contact one of the three credit reporting companies and ask. They'll name a price.

    I cant imagine anyone being surprised that government agencies use commercially available data. It's like being surprised that the D.A. has a Lexis-Nexis subscription, or reads Groklaw (ok, that might be surprising), or reads the newspaper. Once we were aware that credit checks were being factored into job interviews it should hav
  • Privacy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by certel (849946)
    And so it continues. It's just sad that each day, more and more of this information is published. We'll have no rights/freedom shortly.
  • Freedom has a price....your freedom.
  • That's because they know what's behind door #2.

    Bush == Nixon
    Cheney == Agnew
    Iraq == Vietnam
    2007 == 1974
    Oil == Oil
  • An administration that thinks they're above the law and justifies any indignity by simply declaring anything they want to do legal and constitutional? Or the right wing apologists sticking up for them? These are the same people who used to threatened revolution over the assault rifle ban and background checks for buying handguns. They'll fight to the death to be able to buy a gun at a flea market, but it's okay for the military and government check their credit report at will, bug phone calls without a

  • the Vice President on the use of the letters: "It's perfectly legitimate activity."

    I would have called it "cromulent".

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