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September 24, 2007

Federal agent indicted for cyber-stalking with DHS database

A federal agent with the Department of Commerce was indicted by a federal grand jury in California on 19 September for using a Department of Homeland Security database to cyber-stalk his former girlfriend:

According to the indictment, Mr. Robinson was sworn in as a Special Agent for the Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement, Bureau of Industry and Security, on March 31, 1997. In November 2002, Mr. Robinson began a romantic relationship with a person identified in the indictment by her initials, S.S. The relationship lasted approximately seven months and ended acrimoniously. The indictment alleges that, during the course of their relationship and after S.S. tried to end it, Mr. Robinson made numerous threats to S.S., including threatening to have her deported and to kill her and her family.

The indictment further alleges that from approximately May 2003 through March 2004, Mr. Robinson accessed a government database known as the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS) at least 163 times to track the travel patterns of S.S. and her family. Federal agents are authorized to use that database only in the performance of their official duties and not for personal reasons. In addition, law enforcement agents receive training in TECS security and privacy, and are issued unique passwords to access TECS so that their use of the system can be monitored.

The indictment further alleges that on June 1, 2004, agents from the Department of Commerce interviewed Mr. Robinson, and he admitted that he had accessed the TECS database approximately ten to fifteen times to track S.S.’s travel in and out of the United States. In fact, at the time Mr. Robinson made that statement, he was well aware that he had accessed the system at least 163 times between May 1, 2003 and March 22, 2004. [US DOJ]

Robinson is scheduled to appear in court on October 11.

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Meanwhile, Congress may vote to protect phone companies who are violating our privacy by giving info to government employees without a warrant.

Phone companies are lobbying for retroactive immunity.

Please email your Senators against immunity for phone companies. There is an email form at the websites of most Senators.

This, unfortunately, not all that unusual. There are plenty of domestic abusers at all levels of government and law enforcement, and they'll commonly use whatever information they can get their hands on to stalk and harass women who try to escape them. And the fact that they're in positions of authority, and project a completely different face to their co-workers (and the rest of the world) obviously doesn't help.

I know this is stone obvious, but these sorts of things will be happening all the time with no oversight and no warrants. Yeah, maybe this information does not require a warrant, but it should, and this is an example of why. Why does anyone suppose police states are so rife with corruption?

Someone was given my home address once from a cell-phone #.
I'm sure that a detective had a hand in that and my (at the time) 70 yr old mother had not committed any crime. Yet, her privacy was breached by who knows who in how many ways?
It's extremely dangerous. We have an ex-sheriff here here in prison for helping a guy murder his EX girlfriend's new bf and find the new address of the GF and throw acid in her face and blind her.
And, IMO he's merely the one who they don't like. Selective bust because all through Tampa the cops are married to socialites and married to those running for city council ... it's more than the uniform. It's keeping it in the family. They all live in the same neighborhood, too. Now they are getting little decals for their car windows which identify their 'hood. Soon when someone without a decal drives through .. they'll be stopped and questioned.
It needs to be stopped.
I do like this being revealed about the dept of homeland insecurity. Thanks.

This reminds me of the movie True Lies. In that movie, Arnold Schwartzenagger plays a member of a super-secret government agency, who suspects that his wife is having an affair. He responds by having his wife's phone bugged, having her followed, etc. . . Eventually, he has masked government agents kidnap her and interrogate her, while he takes her suspected lover to a remote location, and threatens to shoot him in the head, while the suspected lover pleads desperately for his life. And here's the weird thing---all this is presented as a funny comedy. The husband's reactions are presented as over-the-top, but an essentially normal response of a husband who loves his wife, and thinks she is having an affair, rather than that of a psychopath.

I'd like to strongly second Eric Jaffa!

Standard idiot regarding federal databases / domestic spying / camera surveillance:

"Well, uhhh... If you ain't done nuthin' wrong, you ain't got nuthin' to worry 'bout."

It's the little things that lovers do...

Several years ago, before 9/11 and the resultant paranoia (back when it was liberals who were largely embracing police state tactics to fight militias and hate crimes) a coworker of mine had his phone ring out of the blue with a call from some girl he'd dated years ago who now worked at the Social Security Administration. It was annoying and creepy, but not "I'm gonna murder your family" scary. Still, it was obviously illegal and unethical for her to be stalking ex-boyfriends through her job - and its what I always think about whenever someone says we need national ID cards and more government surveillance. I wonder how many people end up no-fly lists and things of that nature simply because an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend decided that would be a good way to get back at them?

In November 2002, Mr. Robinson began a romantic relationship with a person identified in the indictment by her initials, S.S. The relationship lasted approximately seven months and ended acrimoniously.

It not only ended acrimoniously, but acronymiously as well.

Thank you. I'll be here all week.

The first person to find a story that calls this federal agent a "bad apple" wins.

Someone should forward this entry and comment thread to Bill Maher - he continues to think (and say on his show) that wiretapping is no big deal.

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