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

Today in Techrights

Linux, Graphics, and Linux Foundation

Leftovers: Debian and Ubuntu

  • CD/DVD Image Changes For The Upcoming Debian 9.0 Release
    With Debian 9.0 not being far away from releasing, the Debian CD Images Team has issued an update over their fundamental changes happening for this "Stretch" cycle.
  • The System76 'Galago Pro' laptop looks fantastic, $50 off for a few more days
    The Galago Pro looks like an incredibly stylish device ready for the masses with a slick aluminium casing, instead of the always cheap feeling plastic cases most tend to come with. It's slim, but best of all incredibly light for such a device at 1.3kg (2.87 lbs). It comes with Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS or Ubuntu 17.04, a speedy 7th Gen Intel in either an i5 7200U or i7 7500U and Intel® HD Graphics 620.
  • Download Ubuntu 17.10 daily builds
    The release schedule for Ubuntu 17.10 has been announced, and you can now download the daily build ISO images as well. Daily builds can be useful to watch the progress of Ubuntu 17.10, but are not recommended for normal usage due to possible bugs and changes.

Leftovers: Software

  • GJS: What’s next?
    In my last post, I went into detail about all the new stuff that GJS brought to GNOME 3.24. Now, it’s time to talk about the near future: what GJS will bring to GNOME 3.26.
  • Sending SMS from Linux Just Got Easier with Latest Indicator KDE Connect Update
    Indicator KDE Connect now has Google Contacts integration, making it even easier to send text messages from the Linux desktop.
  • Cumulus Qt is a Lightweight Weather App for Linux
    Cumulus Qt is a Qt weather app for the Linux desktop. It's lightweight, has a bold, striking design inspired by Stormcloud, and is very customisable.
  • Vivaldi 1.10 Browser Now in Development, Will Introduce Docked Developer Tools
    Vivaldi's Ruarí Ødegaard just informed us a few moments ago that Vivaldi 1.10 will be the next major version of the free and cross-platform web browser based on the latest Chromium technologies, not Vivaldi 2.0 as many of you have hoped. Vivaldi 1.9 just hit the streets the other day as world's first web browser to ship with the Ecosia search engine enabled by default to help reforest the plane, and it now looks like Vivaldi's devs never sleep, and development of Vivaldi 1.10 starts today with the first snapshot, Vivaldi 1.10.829.3, which introduces a long-anticipated feature: Docked Developer Tools!