Voices Inside Their Heads: Fbi 'Drowning' In Info From Bugs, Wiretaps

R. A. Hettinga rah at shipwright.com
Tue Feb 24 13:35:49 PST 2004


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 Tue Feb 24 2004 08:48:10 ET

 Thanks to the bundle of anti-terrorism measures known as the USA Patriot
Act, the FBI is conducting a "record amount" of electronic surveillance,
including the use of wiretaps and bugs, CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY reports on

 But the bureau can't keep up with all the information pouring in from
those and other sources, CQ's Justin Rood reports.

 "We have a record amount of collection going on," said FBI spokesman Ed
Cogswell in a telephone interview.

 The Justice Department's 2005 budget justification for the bureau backs
Cogswell up.

 "Electronic Surveillance (ELSUR) collection volumes are expected to
continue an upward trend for months and years ahead," the justification for
the FBI reads.

 The document says the increases are the result of "statutory easements to
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authority (USA Patriot Act), a
shift of FBI investigative resources to counterterrorism and
counterintelligence programs heavily dependant [sic] upon ELSUR collection,
and incremental growth in available ELSUR line capacity."

 Electronic Surveillance - ELSUR - refers to telephone wiretaps, hidden
microphones, cameras placed in private areas, and other forms of
surreptitious interception of oral, written or electronic communication.

 The 2001 Patriot Act (PL 107-56) included provisions making it easier for
the FBI to obtain permission to spy on individuals as a part of
counterterrorism investigations.

 "All systems are go," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on
Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at ibuc.com>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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