Given the way the Federal Bureau of Investigation, our beloved FBI, has been bungling one thing after another of late – after all, they did pass on investigating the Orlando shooter five times – it should come as no great surprise that they’ve been dropping prosecutions of late. The reason why, though, is downright infuriating. See, rather than give up trade secrets, aka how they are abridging American rights and doing surveillance all at the same time, they are letting actual criminals go.
Earlier this year, a school administrator in Washington state named James Michaud was charged with possessing child pornography. When his lawyer declared they had a right to review the software the Bureau used to apprehend him, a district judge agreed.
“The consequences are straightforward: the prosecution must now choose between complying with the court’s discovery order and dismissing the case,” Michaud’s defense team wrote in a brief. Not wanting to publicize the malware used to incriminate Michaud, the FBI chose the latter.
So, the FBI actually catches someone who spends all day around children in possession of kiddie porn and then just lets the man go because they don’t want to give up what they did to his computer to catch him? There isn’t much out there more sick than a sexual fetish for really young flesh. And who is to say that the fetish wouldn’t escalate to kidnapping and actual sexual abuse. Would the FBI then be culpable since they let the scumbag walk? All because they don’t want to share their malware coding?
But wait, there’s more. They don’t want the public to know how much they are spending on the malware program that they don’t want anyone to know about. The actual line item total for cyber efforts is not available to the public.
It has been reported that the [Operational Technology Division] OTD, which handles the FBI’s surveillance technology, had a budget of $600 to $800 million last year, but Bureau officials haven’t given an exact number.
And they want $100 million more for 2017 to develop technologies that the people they catch using said technology will never be allowed to see because the FBI will drop the case rather than reveal their trade secrets in public records.
Is it just me, or is this all smarmy to the max.
What do the people who track all of this for a living have to say about it?
“Of all kinds of government secrecy, budget secrecy is the least defensible,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy. Agencies are often tightlipped about their budgets because it “helps to obscure large increases or decreases in funding that could attract unwanted attention,” he added.
He feels that since budgets don’t typically contain sensitive information, it should be made public.
“…spending levels do not reveal operational information,about targets, or capabilities, or vulnerabilities,” he said, “and therefore they should almost always be disclosed.”
The FBI doesn’t want the American people to know just how much they are spending to find ways to spy on Americans suspected of crimes. Surveillance is perfectly acceptable within the limits of the law. Given the facts of the FBI letting actual criminals go rather than giving up how they caught the perpetrators, one has to wonder how extra-legal the FBI’s activities are.
Cover photo from FBI.gov