Justice Department 'Complies' With FOIA Request For GPS Tracking Memos; Hands ACLU 111 Fully Redacted Pages

from the the-answer-is-none;-none-more-black dept

Just recently, we learned that the EFF had been handed what appeared to be several pages of severe formatting errors and faulty Morse code in response to its FOIA request for the secret interpretation of the FISA spying law. There were also the "sobering findings" faux-released by the NSA, which left in only enough unredacted wording to open speculation on these "sobering findings," as well as to publicly lament the surely misguided public debate on the super-secret agency's actions. Now, the news comes to us that the FBI has handed the ACLU a stack of papers that would make any toner supplier very happy.

The ACLU filed a FOIA request last July in hopes of receiving some insight into the FBI's tracking of US citizens via GPS devices. Two months later, it filed a lawsuit against the FBI, forcing the issue. At long last, the FBI has responded... with 111 pages of black ink.
Two key memos outlining the Justice Department's views about when Americans can be surreptitiously tracked with GPS technology are being kept secret by the department despite a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU to force their release. The FBI’s general counsel discussed the existence of the two memos publicly last year, yet the Justice Department is refusing to release them without huge redactions. 

The word "see" is obviously some sort of joke because there's absolutely nothing to "see" here, unless you consider To, From and Subject fields to be the "smoking gun." Oh, and this one paragraph that leads into 56 straight pages of black ink.

In United States v. Jones, 132 S. Ct. 945 (2012), the Supreme Court affirmed the suppression of location data generated by a GPS tracking device surreptitiously affixed to a car without court authorization and monitored continuously over a 28-day period.
Yep, that's the power of the FOIA. All the black ink (or blank pages) you could possibly want, delivered months after they're requested. The redactions on these two documents obviously goes far beyond simply protecting sensitive information that might jeopardize ongoing investigations. This is nothing more than the DOJ covering up unconstitutional practices.
The Justice Department's unfortunate decision leaves Americans with no clear understanding of when we will be subjected to tracking — possibly for months at a time — or whether the government will first get a warrant. This is yet another example of secret surveillance policies — like the Justice Department's secret opinions about the Patriot Act's Section 215 — that simply should not exist in a democratic society.
The ACLU is asking the court to order the DOJ to release these memos in full. The Fourth Amendment's reasonable expectation of privacy is undermined by these secret memos, which limit knowledge of law enforcement tracking efforts solely to the executive branch.

The implications of these withheld documents go even further than discussing GPS tracking. FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissman's explanation of the second memo ("Guidance Regarding the Application of United States v. Jones to Additional Investigative Techniques") leaves the door open for tracking via other technology.
[The] second memoranda [sic] is going to be about guidance about what this means for other types of techniques, beyond GPS, because there's no reason to think that this is going to just end with GPS and some of that is going to be very much a judgment call.
It's already common knowledge that law enforcement agencies are using cell phone tracking. As the ACLU points out, wireless carriers already receive 1.5 million requests for data every year, most of which is used for location tracking. Additional technology, such as drones or license plate readers, make endless surveillance a logistic reality, and all without a warrant.

A fully-redacted document doesn't seem to indicate that the FBI is operating within the constraints of United States v. Jones. It signals the very opposite and provides us with another example of how government agencies, when faced with constitutional limitations, are more than happy to simply "interpret" their way around them -- and keep these interpretations out of public view, perhaps indefinitely. It's extremely hypocritical for the FBI and DOJ to sit in a position of law enforcement when they clearly believe abiding by the law is optional.







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Filed Under: doj, foia, gps, redacted, spying
Companies: aclu, eff

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  1. icon
    weneedhelp (profile), 17 Jan 2013 @ 2:52pm

    Re: Re:

    "There are conspiracy theorists who came to this conclusion years ago" - Being a self proclaimed conspiracy theorist; Doesn't this now go beyond theory and become fact?

    The MSM has the public brainwashed and used conspiracy theorist as a stigma to immediately discredit anything anyone has to say that goes against the norm, most Amerikans will never realize until it is too late, and when they do and revolt, then Marshall law will be declared and another civil war will ensue.

    I will, after this day, never call the American PPL sheeple again, but use the more appropriate term lemmings.

    I try really hard not to bring 911 stuff up here, but what we see happening has been accelerated due to the events of 911, and it was absolutely abused as a catalyst to the end-goal of the neoconservative agenda.

    Pentagon - Black boxes - altimeter. Upon take off the altimeter gets adjusted for the barometric pressure of the day. The NTSB data from the black boxes clearly shows the adjustment after take off but upon landing/crashing no such adjustment is made. So what does that mean? Well about a 400 ft difference is all. How do we interpret that? Well that has kept me up nights and I don't have an answer for you. One thing I do know is either the NTSB data was made up or manipulated. Either conclusion brings up a myriad of additional questions to which some ppl's mind just cant handle. Is this a conspiracy theory? Or just someone like myself, and many others noticing a discrepancy in the official documents provided by the NTSB and questioning how that could possibly be?

    Alright ill get off my tinfoil soapbox now, take off my tinfoil hat and stick to the articles at hand.
    -End conspiracy laden rant.

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