Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Search warrant data accuracy: Case study -- FBI-target John Rosatti address incorrectly scanned

Search warrant errors can be a problem for you.

Sample error: Wrong IP number on warrant -- A. J. Nuckols, VA family abused, interrogated at gunpoint.

* * *


There is a known risk law enforcement will go the wrong address when using electronically-scanned information as the source for issuing search warrants. Unfortunately, the courts are seldom pursuaded to provide relief under the Federal Tort Claim Act.

When errors are known but not fixed, they do not fall into the realm of "reasonable error," but form the foundation for a 42 USC 1983 claim.

This is a known error and the courts and counsel should be reminded to have the officers double check the information on the address of the warrant to ensure that the agents are going to the correct address.


The error with electronic transcript is not new. Let's go through an example of how the wrong address can be placed on a search warrant.

John Rosatti's contributions to the Bush-Cheney campaign have an interesting typographical "challenge." Ref, from the Smoking Gun Article Title, "Mafia Soldiers Support Bush-Cheney" Ref Quoting from the Smoking Gun:

two Colombo family soldiers have spoken with their bulging wallets--and they want four more years for the Bush/Cheney ticket. The below Federal Election Commission records show that convicted felons John Staluppi and John Rosatti last year each gave the GOP candidates $2000 ref

Notice the name of the organization as it is printed on the top: Bush-Cheney D4, not 04, but D, like "Dog." RefRef

Looking at the Address by the arrow, 227D Wilsee Ref yields a result that fails to fall within the Range on Mapquest, 2200-2499.

Is it a typographical error in that 227Dd should be 2270? Strange that "D" [middle finger, left hand on typewriter] would be transposed with a number [top row of keyboard]

In other words, if Mapquest is accurate, and if the address on the FEC filing is 227D, we fail to understand where on the map we might find 227, as the street as identified on the FEC form runs only from 2200 to 2499.


Where is 227D?

Is the filing an error?

Is MapQuest in error?

Is the street actually longer, and the MapQuest is outdated?

Do recipients of campaign contributions have an obligation to ensure that the information provided on the form is accurate?

It doesn't seem likely that Mr Rosatti would go to the trouble of correctly filing a report with the FEC, with an incorrect address; tellingly, the name of the organization has the same apparent transcription error between the number ZERO and the letter D, like "DOG."

The only explanation is that the FEC form has been scanned electronically, and the transcription mis-identified a ZERO as the letter D, like "DOG".

What significance this has in the large scheme of things is unclear. But what is interesting is that the form on the Smoking Gun website does not appear to be a direct copy, but an electronic scan. Whether the electronic scan-transcription was made prior to or after Smoking Gun got the document we have no idea.

But in the large scheme, we wonder, "How many other scanning errors are there" in the FEC-related documents, and if there are errors, what method is there to validated the flings; and does the apparent scanning error make it difficult to achieve the objectives of the FEC: Providing correct, reliable, useful information to the public on the actual origin of funds.

We remain skeptical the data is 100% accurate, or that outsiders have run into a problem. It remains to be seen whether the type of scanning errors are significant in that the public is unable to correctly identify the true origin of funds; or to what extent this error is known and worked around; or whether data-errors are simply ignored and thrown into the "we have no evidence to question the information" [because the information cannot be 100% verified.]

It would be interesting to see what the percentage-error is in the FEC database; and whether management is aware of the problem; and to what extent, despite the error, personnel running the FEC contractor-oversight continue to award high marks [to the companies performing the work transcribing data] despite the error rate in data-transcription-scanning.

More broadly we have yet to understand to what extent the transcribing-errors are also used by the FBI in the language translation efforts; or to what extent the "backlog of translation efforts" is being "solved" by using software that has an error rate. It remains to be seen whether a simply typographical error proves to be significant.

Remember, it was the "confusion" of the "pounds" vs "newtons" in the NASA Mars lander software that led to the apparent failure. Although it may see like a "no big deal," when warrants are issued they have to be on the correct address; but if there are "reasonable errors, and despite being at the wrong address law enforcement stumbles across something," you could very will find yourself at the end of the JTTF-gun.

Some errors are acceptable to the government when they let law enforcement assert the "right of intrusion" where they would otherwise be forbidden from treading. This was the very scenario the public rebuked when it endorsed the US Constitution.

Now that you've looked at the details, consider how closely others really look:

The two men, John Staluppi and John Rosatti, each gave $2,000 to Bush-Cheney '04.

Notice, going by the form, the "correct" version is "Bush-Cheney D4, Inc.". Mind your p'x and q'x.