Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

FBI wants more subpoena power

Filed under
Security

FBI Director Robert Mueller said Wednesday that Congress should give the agency the power to issue its own subpoenas, instead of having to get approval for them from a court, so that it can collect information more quickly in terrorism investigations.

Mueller said North Carolina State University initially rebuffed FBI investigators this month when they sought enrollment records for a former graduate student suspected of being linked to the London bombings because the investigators did not have a subpoena.

Although the FBI eventually obtained subpoenas and the records, Mueller used the episode to argue to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the bureau needs the new subpoena power.

"We should've been able to have a document, an administrative subpoena, that we took to the university and got those records immediately," Mueller told the committee.

Lawmakers are trying to determine whether to include FBI subpoena power for gathering anti-terror intelligence in a package of amendments to the USA Patriot Act.

Mueller said he objects to any oversight of an FBI subpoena outside of the bureau.

But Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she is leery of giving the FBI anti-terror subpoena power without some Justice Department supervision. The FBI already has the authority to issue administrative subpoenas in certain kinds of cases.

Feinstein said an agent seeking to issue a subpoena should be required to justify the need for it to an assistant U.S. attorney because of the possibility that the FBI would amass information about innocent people.

"The resistance to this makes me suspicious," she said.

At North Carolina State, the FBI sought records for Magdy el-Nashar, an Egyptian who attended the university in 2000 and was believed to have rented a house in Leeds, England, near where four bombs used in the July 7 attacks in London are thought to have been made. The attacks killed 56 people.

El-Nashar, who is wanted for questioning by British authorities, has been detained in Egypt. Officials there have said he has no links to the bombings.

In a statement, the university said that under federal privacy laws, it could not turn over records without a subpoena. In all, North Carolina State eventually was served with three subpoenas pertaining to el-Nashar, the statement said.

Mueller's visit to Capitol Hill coincided with the release of a report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine that found continued shortcomings in FBI efforts to translate a backlog of foreign-language material, including information related to counterterrorism.

The report found that the FBI now has 8,354 hours of tape recordings involving counterterrorism topics waiting to be reviewed, up from 4,086 hours a year ago. But Fine found that the bureau is up-to-date in translating material deemed "highest priority," a category that includes information relating to Al Qaeda terrorism cases.

On another sore subject for the agency, Mueller said the FBI has made "substantial progress" in upgrading its much maligned technology systems. He said the bureau has bought more powerful computers and built a new secure network.

A contractor for a new case management system, code-named Sentinel, is expected to be selected by the end of the year, he said. Sentinel is slated to be implemented in four stages over 40 months, ending in 2009.

An earlier attempt at a case management systemwas scrapped after three years and an expenditure of $170 million.

By Andrew Zajac
Washington Bureau

More in Tux Machines

GitLab Web IDE

  • GitLab Web IDE Goes GA and Open-Source in GitLab 10.7
    GitLab Web IDE, aimed to simplify the workflow of accepting merge requests, is generally available in GitLab 10.7, along with other features aimed to improve C++ and Go code security and improve Kubernets integration. The GitLab Web IDE was initially released as a beta in GitLab 10.4 Ultimate with the goal of streamlining the workflow to contribute small fixes and to resolve merge requests without requiring the developer to stash their changes and switch to a new branch locally, then back. This could be of particular interest to developers who have a significant number of PRs to review, as well as to developers starting their journey with Git.
  • GitLab open sources its Web IDE
    GitLab has announced its Web IDE is now generally available and open sourced as part of the GitLab 10.7 release. The Web IDE was first introduced in GitLab Ultimate 10.4. It is designed to enable developers to change multiple files, preview Markdown, review changes and commit directly within a browser. “At GitLab, we want everyone to be able to contribute, whether you are working on your first commit and getting familiar with git, or an experienced developer reviewing a stack of changes. Setting up a local development environment, or needing to stash changes and switch branches locally, can add friction to the development process,” Joshua Lambert, senior product manager of monitoring and distribution at GitLab, wrote in a post.

Record Terminal Activity For Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Server

At times system administrators and developers need to use many, complex and lengthy commands in order to perform a critical task. Most of the users will copy those commands and output generated by those respective commands in a text file for review or future reference. Of course, “history” feature of the shell will help you in getting the list of commands used in the past but it won’t help in getting the output generated for those commands. Read
more

Linux Kernel Maintainer Statistics

As part of preparing my last two talks at LCA on the kernel community, “Burning Down the Castle” and “Maintainers Don’t Scale”, I have looked into how the Kernel’s maintainer structure can be measured. One very interesting approach is looking at the pull request flows, for example done in the LWN article “How 4.4’s patches got to the mainline”. Note that in the linux kernel process, pull requests are only used to submit development from entire subsystems, not individual contributions. What I’m trying to work out here isn’t so much the overall patch flow, but focusing on how maintainers work, and how that’s different in different subsystems. Read more

Security: Updates, Trustjacking, Breach Detection

  • Security updates for Monday
  • iOS Trustjacking – A Dangerous New iOS Vulnerability
    An iPhone user's worst nightmare is to have someone gain persistent control over his/her device, including the ability to record and control all activity without even needing to be in the same room. In this blog post, we present a new vulnerability called “Trustjacking”, which allows an attacker to do exactly that. This vulnerability exploits an iOS feature called iTunes Wi-Fi sync, which allows a user to manage their iOS device without physically connecting it to their computer. A single tap by the iOS device owner when the two are connected to the same network allows an attacker to gain permanent control over the device. In addition, we will walk through past related vulnerabilities and show the changes that Apple has made in order to mitigate them, and why these are not enough to prevent similar attacks.
  • What Is ‘Trustjacking’? How This New iOS Vulnerability Allows Remote Hacking?
    This new vulnerability called trustjacking exploits a convenient WiFi feature, which allows iOS device owners to manage their devices and access data, even when they are not in the same location anymore.
  • Breach detection with Linux filesystem forensics
    Forensic analysis of a Linux disk image is often part of incident response to determine if a breach has occurred. Linux forensics is a different and fascinating world compared to Microsoft Windows forensics. In this article, I will analyze a disk image from a potentially compromised Linux system in order to determine the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the incident and create event and filesystem timelines. Finally, I will extract artifacts of interest from the disk image. In this tutorial, we will use some new tools and some old tools in creative, new ways to perform a forensic analysis of a disk image.