You Know, They Have The Automated Bill-Paying Now…

January 10th, 2008at 08:41pm Posted by Eli

Yet another revealing look at the depth of our government’s commitment to fighting terrorism:

Telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals because of the bureau’s repeated failures to pay phone bills on time.

A Justice Department audit released Thursday blamed the lost connections on the FBI’s lax oversight of money used in undercover investigations. In one office alone, unpaid costs for wiretaps from one phone company totaled $66,000.

In at least one case, a wiretap used in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act investigation “was halted due to untimely payment,” the audit found. FISA wiretaps are used in the government’s most sensitive and secretive criminal and intelligence investigations, and allow eavesdropping on suspected terrorists or spies.

“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,” according to the audit by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.

More than half of 990 bills to pay for telecommunication surveillance in five unidentified FBI field offices were not paid on time, the report shows.


The American Civil Liberties Union called on the FBI to release the entire, unedited audit. The group, which has been critical of some of the government’s wiretapping programs, also took a swipe at telecommunication companies that allowed the eavesdropping � as long as they are getting paid.

“It seems the telecoms, 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,” said former FBI agent Michael German, the ACLU’s national security policy counsel. “To put it bluntly, it sounds as though the telecoms believe it when the FBI says the warrant is in the mail but not when they say the check is in the mail.”

It really is amazing that telecom companies were so willing to accommodate the Bush administration’s mass surveillance demands without requiring actual warrants, but would be such sticklers about unpaid bills. Hell, maybe that’s why there were unpaid bills – the Feds figured the telecoms would let them get away with anything.

You know, the automated bill-paying is really easy to set up. If I can figure it out, surely the FBI can.

Entry Filed under: Terrorism

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