Constant's pations

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

Thursday, March 09, 2006

DHS: Warrantless interrogations

The United States Department of Homeland Security [DHS] engages in unlawful, warrantless interrogations of American citizens.

The NSA unlawful programs and mismanagement are just the tip of the iceberg. DoJ's been doing domestic renditions. DHS is also in the act.

Like the unlawful NSA activity, this illegal activity is classified because the President doesn't want Congress to know about the well known abuses and violations of the laws.

DHS doesn't have enough manpower to do detailed checks of financial records. Rather, they rely on simple notifications from banking institution.

Rather than do preliminary work and trace the funds themselves, DHS has been self-issuing warrants and picking up Americans off the streets.

* * *

The scenario is consistent: Civilians engaged in lawful commerce cash a check, close out an account, or sell a business.

What's curious is DHS knows about the transactions despite no electronic transfer. It remains to be understood why self-written checks placed in non-disclosed locations are known to DHS.

Curiously, the neighbors and phone companies seem to be assisting. With all this attention, why does DHS have to pick up Americans? DHS would rather talk directly to the person than do the leg work.

As with the CIA-DoD black site interrogations, even when DHS gets an answer, they accuse the target -- American citizens -- of lying.

If DHS "knows the answer" why do you bother asking, and not bring charges? This is the same non-sense we've heard about Guantanamo.

Americans are accused of misconduct, detained, and questioned. Their responses are treated as "evidence" of wrong doing. No matter what Americans do -- as are the detainees at Guantanamo -- DHS uses all responses as "proof" of something. Yet, like Guantanamo, if there is "proof" of lying, DHS cannot explain why they do not have the information to charge people with a crime.

* * *

The DHS warrantless interrogations are no different than the legal nonsense at Guantanamo: DHS supposedly "knows something" but refuses to file charges against Americans.

The legal non-sense Congress has lapped up over Guantanamo is being used to justify the DHS program related to the domestic warrantless interrogation program. Because Congress is unwilling to look at the NSA -- claiming there are "more important things to do" -- DHS is getting the green light to expand what Gonzalez calls another of the highly successful programs.

Curiously, despite American citizen explanations, DHS refuses to believe the evidence during these warrantless interrogations. It's only when the lawyers are brought into the picture that DHS suddenly says, "Hay, we're doing our job."

Illegally! The burden of proof is with DHS; the public does not have the burden to "satisfy" DHS -- no matter what they hear they're not going to believe it. The burden of proof rests with DHS: Provide evidence to bring charges; or leave Americans alone.

As with Afghanistan, Iraq and NSA unlawful programs, DHS is chasing ghosts, refuses to adequately train its personnel, ignores the Statutes.

When you think of Gonzalez and the NSA unlawful activity, remember the DHS warrantless interrogation program. It is well known, it is not lawful, and the conduct is at odds with the American Constitution.

* * *

DHS is not polite when reviewing bank statements, loan covenants, credit card transactions, and business records. They presume the person they are talking to is doing something wrong.

What is most surprising is DHS would have us believe that they are "just doing their jobs." Strange, didn't their training in Quantico review the 4th Amendment; or are we to believe that despite the "promised protections" these get explained away.

We need only look at the hand waving over the unlawful NSA programs. DHS misconduct is considered a distraction.

* * *

The interrogations form a consistent pattern. Targets are not given any information about the charges or reason for the detention. Rather, the public is left to wonder. This is fairly consistent with the reports from the Black Sites, indicating there's a cross flow of information between JTTF, DoD, and DHS on lessons learned.

What is curious is despite the lack of manpower and "urgency" to pick people up, DHS will leave people waiting for hours. The backlog is noteworthy and gives us an idea of their manning problems.

* * *

If you are stopped, notice whether the people who pick you up are the ones who do the interrogations. It appears as though they have roving teams that float around your city, and drop them off at commercial facilities which are not easily recognizable as linked with DHS.

What's needed is some better information on the time it takes for them to process you. You will be left in a private holding room for several hours. What you can do before this happens is practice guessing "how much time has elapsed" and see how close you are. Practice this with your friends, and also by yourself.

What's needed are some fairly good estimates on the time lag; this will give Congress and idea of the manning shortfalls DHS has, and the required funding to really do the warrantless interrogations. DHS has yet to explain why they have not requested additional funds to support the warrantless interrogations.

* * *

Let's go through the types of financial issues that are trigging the warrantless interrogations. In a general sense they involve fairly large sums of money, a financial institution that is rewarded for providing notices to DHS, and some sort of rather benign activity.

Typically what happens is a business will cease operations, debts are settled, and records closed out. Financial institutions because they are monitored on the "number and quality of reports they provide to DHS" will adjust their reporting.

The problem is that DHS is losing public support. People who are engaging in lawful activity are being treated as if they are with the Taliban: Silence, no explanations, swift movements, and accusations.

It's one thing to treat people poorly in a combat zone; it's quite another to continue to treat American civilians the same in front of their children.

Recall the problems in Iraq. Iraqi men and women were disgraced by American soldiers, accused and mistreated before their friends and families.

The DHS warrantless interrogations are no different. Young children see their parents taken away in handcuffs; people have their meetings interrupted.

* * *

The public needs some better information on the type of relationships banks have with DHS. It's one thing to fight terrorism in Iraq where there is no link to AlQueda; it's quite another for a "friendly banker" -- hoping to avoid an audit -- will increase his reporting quota to DHS.

DHS has some explaining to do:

- why are the warrantless interrogations occurring;

Adverse inference: Training, negligent supervision, and non compliance with lawful procedures in the US Regulations.

- what plans does the DHS IG have to review the nature of the triggering events for the detentions; why there is a backlog in reviewing the information;

Adverse inference: Congress, because of the unfavorable weather, has no plans to exercise the power of the Ranking Member on the Banking or Intelligence Committee to oversee the DHS problems.

- the reasons for not independently tracing the dollars and expenses using Certified Public Accountants.

Adverse inference: You are incorrectly reporting to Congress the nature of the detentions, interrogations, audits; and have more information than you possibly can audit – so you’re simply chasing big dollar transactions in the hopes you can score a big win. We know what is going on: You’re not fighting crime, you’re fighting the Constitution.

If you were to honestly go to Congress and let them know what is really going on – that you have too much to do, and are not trained to do what is required – then Congress may provide you the resources to do what is required. Until you are clear with what is going on – as was not done with the NSA and DoJ issues – then you’re simply using your self-evident communication-problem with Congress as an excuse to make this grow bigger.

It’s too late: We already know. You can’t hide this. It’s no different than the NSA issue: You’re not following the laws, you’re making excuses, and you’re arrogantly calling this “fighting terrorism,” No, it’s your battle and rebellion against the Constitution.

The same non-sense the White House is giving over the NSA issue – and the non-sense Congress is lapping up, is the same nonsense DHS is giving. What kind of retaliation are you imposing on those inside DHS for talking about the training, leadership, management, and statutory compliance problems.

Adverse inference: DHS is timing IG messages and OPR visits to coincide with Congressional reviews to dissuade lawful communication to the IG and Congress over matters that Congress should know about before reauthorizing DHS appropriations. If there were real audits and credible responses, the audit reports wouldn’t be getting buried; rather, they’d translate into better training, and sufficient reports to Congress to solve problems. We have the opposite: Hidden problems, false assurances of “everything is fine” and continued arrogant treatment of Americans who see what is going on: Violations of the law, misconduct under the Patriot Act, abuse of power, OPR unprofessionalism, and failure by the IG and Congress to credibly dig into these matters.

* * *

There’s a core problem with these types of detentions and interrogations. The public should have no confidence DHS really knows the answers -- if they did, the wouldn't be stopping people over trivial matters.

The public should not trust DHS. Rather, contact your lawyers before this happens to you, and memorize your attorney's number.

DHS will not read you your rights, tell you what they are looking for, nor will they show you a warrant, nor remind you of your right to discuss the issues with your attorney. Rather, DHS will pepper you with random questions, bring in other inspectors from the IRS, and make it "your issue".

Wrong. The real issue is this Constitution is getting trashed. "The issue" is DHS and the President are in rebellion against the Constitution; and "their issue" is they are making up stories to keep Congress from finding out what is going on.

Congress isn't interested, but they should. The public needs to ask why the Ranking Members on the Senate Intelligence and Banking Committee are not directing the Intelligence-related inspector generals to review these matters.

Specifically, it remains to be understood:

  • How many self-certified warrants have been retroactively created

  • The similarity between the FISA process and DHS warrants: The nature of the existing procedures DHS and Congress do not plan to enforce, follow, or adhere to.

  • Why Congressional calls for “stories about Patriot Act abuse” keep getting swept under the rug

  • What specific threats financial institutions, managers, and board of directors have faced if they fail to meet DHS quotas

    There's no merit to the argument that DHS employees are "just doing their job." Rather, they show that they do not have the professionalism to seek the needed warrants; nor do they detain and question people based on probable cause. Rather, they are on fishing trips against people who haven’t done anything wrong.

    If they had the resources, time, and ability to “read their procedures” they’d know how to collect the information, answer their own questions, and fight crime, not go on fishing trips.

    DHS needs to explain why they have “enough information from banks” about what is going on – but the details aren’t things DHS has enough interest to find out about. It’s a real problem when DHS Special Agents in Charge throw up their hands, say, “Hay, this is the only way to do it,” when the fact of the matter is you have the records – you’re just too lazy to find out on your own. Quit your non-sense games. If you are going to direct your agents to accuse the business community of “not being truthful” then you shouldn’t direct your agents to spend time asking them questions.

    That is the professionalism issue which the SACs cannot explain: Why are your agents – are regularly “trained” and getting “no notice visits” – not being consistent: If you don’t have enough resources to find out something, then you need to let Congress know; however, if you’re going to direct your agents, or not supervise them to ensure they are getting the required warrants, then you have another problem. But the real issue is that your story doesn’t add up.

    Your problem is that your agents don’[t have the “interest” in finding facts – so they’re traveling around the cities, picking people up, and then demanding to know about things. Hay – your credibility problem stems from a simple problem: If you have the information from the banking institution, why don’t you do what you always do: Talk to the people who are outside the problem and get reliable information.

    Your problem is that your NSL’s aren’t working to scare people, so you now have to pick people up, ask them direct questions, and then accuse them of lying to you. Hay – if you’re going to treat American like they’re liars, why do you bother asking them questions? Why don’t you do what you were trained to do at the black sites – and leave them in holding cells for hours on end, pepper Americans with questions, bring in new people, not answer questions, and try to confuse your interrogation target.

    Oh, wait – you’re already doing that. You’ve shown you’re weak. You know you have a training, leadership, and manning problem. And for whatever reason you haven’t been able to convince Congress there is a “really big problem” because to do so you would have to admit you’re mistreating Americans – and this would have come at a time just before the Patriot Act was passed.

    Withholding information from Congress is a problem, especially when they’ve asked you questions and you’ve told them there is no evidence. The real problem is that Americans continue to be mistreated, held without warrants, and your lazy DHS agents aren’t willing to tell it like it is: Your DHS leadership knows the problem with Katrina is about inadequate training, resources, and manning. Your only option is to do non-sense things.

    Again, the issue is very simple:

  • 1. Why are you telling us things are fine

    Adverse inference: The President does not want Congress to know what is really going on, as is with the NSA activity.

  • 2. Your conduct clearly shows that you do not have enough resources

  • 3. Your agents and leadership in the supervisory offices are clearly unwilling to find out information independently

  • 4. You ask questions of those who are willing to help you, but you treat them like the enemy; thereby making your jobs that much harder in the long run, and undermine public confidence by those who might otherwise freely provide you truthful answers

  • 5. But rather than accept their answers, you continue to badger them, and accuse them of wrong doing.

    What’s your deal: If you’re too lazy to find out the answers yourself, there’s no basis for you to accuse anyone of not cooperating or telling you falsehoods. Rather, the real truth is you don’t know how to professional engage in financial audits, and you are directing your law enforcement agents to do things they are not adequately trained to do: Engaged in unlawful activity, conduct financial audits, and gather intelligence.

    You are burning bridges. You are defeating the very civilians who might support you.

    You are waging a senseless campaign of intelligence gathering. You show you intimidate people to comply, but they only do that out of resentment. That is not something that inspires confidence in the Federal Government. Nor does it warrant confidence that this DHS or the Special Agents in Charge are telling Congress what is really going on.


  • A. Why are you telling Congress things are fine –

    Adverse inference: You know the opposite is true, and the White House is telling you things that are at odds with the Constitution

  • B. The fact of the matter is that your agents cannot do financial audits correctly

  • C. Your agents are accusing Americans of violating the law

  • D. There is no basis for those statements

  • E. You are not adequately telling people information they need to assist you

  • F. When people go out of their way to assist you, your rebuff their information, treat them rudely, and refuse to provide the assistance they need to help you out

  • G. You are burning bridges

  • H. You are making errors today that will make your job that much harder in the future

  • I. You have the option to go to Congress and tell them you do not have the training, manpower, or resources to review the records

  • J. You could tell the American people that you do not have the information you need to know why the transactions are or are not a problem

  • K. You have no basis to assert that someone is or is not engaged in any criminal activity and there in no probable cause – rather, you are engaged in fishing expeditions

  • L. You can’t do independent financial audits, do not have the resources to support those audits, and you are incorrectly assigning agents to do financial audits when their primary training is on simple criminal matters

  • M. You have incorrectly assigned personnel not qualified to do what they are being told to do

    There is a major problem with the training within DHS. The problem is this nation’s citizens are being told – not asked – to put up with your reckless conduct, and your negligent oversight. That is a major problem that the public knows full well.

    There is no reason you should be trusted. Perhaps you can explain to the public about the “no notice” audits you are getting; and why there appear to be so many Senators saying, “hay there’s no problem with abuse under the Patriot Act.”

    It appears many OPR investigations are whitewashed, otherwise this non-sense would stop.

    Nor can DHS explain the “really quick caseload resolution” on matters that you cannot corroborate. Clearly you can’t get information from the financial institution – otherwise you’d close the case out; but even when you ask the people that should know what is going on, you still aren’t satisfied.

    Well, the public has seen enough. It’s clear no matter what level of support, information, or assistance you get you’re not going to be happy. Hay – that’s your problem. It was your choice to go into DHS and agree to violate the law, and engage in warrantless interrogation. If you have a problem with that, then you need to solve your management problem.

    It’s time the public get the straight story:

  • A. What’s your training program all about

    Adverse inference: DHS training is a joke

  • B. Where are the OPR reports

    Adverse inference: OPR reviews are whitewashes; files on “people who complain” get special attention, rather than the self-evident training problem within DHS. Clearly the SACs are relying on legal advice that is odds with the Bill of Rights.

  • C. Why the self-issuing of warrants on financial reviews

    Adverse inference: Your agents are not trained correctly so you continue to cut corners, and suppress complaints Congress needs to hear before making additional appropriations

  • D. What’s the reason for not telling people they are being detained for a warrantless interrogations

    Adverse inference: You’re not sure what you’re looking for; rather, you spend hours going over pieces of information that do not add up to anything. It’s time you change your quota system with the financial institutions. The voters know what is going on: Your conduct, like the unlawful NSA activity, is at odds with the statutes.

  • E. Do you plan to increase the number of audits by DHS personnel who have no expertise in financial matters

    Adverse inference: You are freely choosing to engage in unlawful fishing expeditions because you cannot find another job.

  • F. If you have the ability to track information from financial institution, shy are you wasting your time asking questions about matters that the financial institution knows well about: Loans, business closeouts, and other matters that are clearly within the public record.

    Adverse inference: The problem is that your personnel are not smart enough to know how to do what they’re doing; and the fastest way for them to “close out” the file is the direct approach: In their face, accuse them of wrong doing, and then tell them they are lying.

    Well guess what: You’re making your job harder – and you have only yourselves to blame. If you are “not happy” with how you are trained, maybe you should get some vacation time to “think things over” and decide “is this Constitution really what you’re all about.” Clearly, it’s not.

    * * *

    America has incorrectly changed the burden of proof from "innocent until proven guilty" to one that is "we will abuse you until you assent to our abuse." That conduct is the behavior which precipitated the drafting of the Constitution.

    It is time to lawfully revoke the power of the federal government to abuse these powers. Three’s no reason any American should continue to believe the Federal government is serious about adhering to their agreements.

    Broken promises are the problem of the Federal government. We need not recognize power they claim is linked to a document they do not honor. Their abuse rests on a legal foundation they do not recognize: The Constitution.

    We need better civilian oversight of the law enforcement and federal government. It’s time to talk about civilian oversight boards of Congress, the Executive Branch. Yes, the federal government monitors Americans – it is time to lawfully remind the government where they get their power from: The people, not a document they have trashed.

    Let your friends know: The American federal government, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies have one goal: To make you lose. Do not trust them. Talk to your lawyers. Prepare and practice protecting your rights -- DHS isn’t.