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Digital_Ice
14-01-2008, 05:16 AM
Unpaid phone bills ruin FBI wiretap operations
By Tom Leonard in New York
Last Updated: 2:47am GMT 13/01/2008
Eavesdropping operations on criminal and terrorist suspects by the Federal Bureau of Investigation have collapsed because the bureau has failed to pay its telephone bills.

A report by the US Department of Justice revealed that the unpaid costs of wiretaps came to $66,000 (33,000) in one FBI field office alone.

An audit by Glenn Fine, the inspector general, discovered that a wiretap used in an operation conducted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - the government's most sensitive covert investigations - "was halted due to untimely payment" in at least one case.
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The report added: "We also found that late payments have resulted in telecommunications carriers actually disconnecting phone lines established to deliver surveillance results to the FBI, resulting in lost evidence."

Nearly 500 bills for telecommunication surveillance in five field offices were not paid on time, the audit found.

Revealing a picture of financial chaos within the 56 field offices of America's chief law enforcement agency, the audit blamed the lost connections on the FBI's lax oversight of money used in undercover investigations.

The report - of which only an edited version was released publicly - followed a case in 2006 in which an FBI employee admitted stealing more than $25,000 (12,500) that was intended to be spent on wiretaps.

John Miller, the assistant director of the FBI, said wiretaps were dropped a few times because of unpaid bills but investigations were not set back significantly.

He said that the FBI "will not tolerate financial mismanagement, or worse" and that the problems were being rectified.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which claims that much government wiretapping is unauthorised, accused telecommunication companies of allowing illegal eavesdropping as long as they were getting paid.

Michael German, the ACLU's national security policy expert and a former FBI agent, said: "It seems the tele-coms, who are claiming they were just being 'good patriots' when they allowed the government to spy on us without warrants, are more than willing to pull the plug on national security investigations when the government falls behind on its bills."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/01/12/wfbi112.xml

hasselbrad
14-01-2008, 01:40 PM
How'd you like to be the collection agent that has to wade through that voicemail system?