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

GNOME News

  • Hurrah! Dash to Dock Now Supports GNOME 3.24
    The Dash to Dock GNOME Shell Extension has been updated to support GNOME 3.24, and improves its app launch keyboard shortcut feature.
  • openSUSE Tumbleweed Is the First to Offer the GNOME 3.24 Desktop Environment
    openSUSE Project's Dominique Leuenberger was proud to announce the availability of the recently released GNOME 3.24 desktop environment into the software repositories of the openSUSE Tumbleweed rolling release. According to the developer, and to our knowledge, openSUSE Tumbleweed is now the first GNU/Linux distributions to offer the GNOME 3.24 packages to their users. We know that openSUSE is a distro mostly oriented towards the KDE Plasma desktop, but support for GNOME is provided at the same level of quality.

Linux Action Show ends after 10-year run

This past Sunday, Jupiter Broadcasting announced the Linux Action Show—one of the longest-running podcasts in the Linux world, which has aired almost continuously since June 10, 2006—is coming to an end and closing down production. Over a decade. That is a seriously good run for any show—podcast, TV, radio or otherwise. When I and my co-host created the Linux Action Show (typically abbreviated as LAS) nearly 11 years ago, we had no idea it would last this long. Nor did we have any idea of how far it would grow. Read more

Red Hat News

Samsung Z4 gets WiFi Certified with Tizen 3.0 onboard, Launching soon

Today, the next Tizen smartphone, which should be the named the Samsung Z4, has received its WiFi certification (certification ID: WFA70348) – Model number SM-Z400F/DS with firmware Z400F.001 on the 2.4Ghz band. WiFi certification is usually one of the last steps before a mobile device gets released and means a launch is coming real soon as we have already seen the Z4 make its debut appearance at the FCC. For the previous model, the Samsung Z2, we saw it get WIFi certified on 7 July and then launched on 23 August, a mere 6 weeks. Read more