FBI cut off internet to hotel room, posed as repair guys to record video without warrant


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This approach is as old as the field of espionage is. Nothing new here, except that a case got actually documented.

More should be caught and documented. And the perpetrators hunted down and their photos published, limiting their undercover usefulness.

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Christ, these assholes.


It’s not even all that fucking HARD! The affidavits don’t even seem to get looked at, or have to make any kind of logical sense, before they’re signed off on. Perhaps someday that little deficiency will be fixed, but, till then, why the hell not get a damn warrant?!?


How the hell does this constitute “consent”? I don’t get it. If you’re operating under a false premise, that would seem to poison any agreement you make that relies on that premise, and the consent being given is for the repair of the service which a) doesn’t require them to enter the space, and b) doesn’t include being spied upon (otherwise you could say that anytime anyone consented to X, it also included consent to Y and Z, unrelated things; that’s clearly not the case - if a regular repairman has no right to take pictures of the interior of your home, surely neither does the FBI pretending to be such).


It’s not so simple. Getting a warrant on an average citizen is pretty much a given. The cops ask for it and generally get one. Getting a warrant on someone worth millions takes probable cause with specificity.

The law has two tiers in the U.S., one for the well off and another for the rest of us. Only the wealthy can afford rights these days.


Apparently the defendant Wei Seng Phua is the San Marino ambassador to Montenegro. This has no bearing on the privacy issues of the case, it’s just too odd a tidbit to not share.

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'Merica’s gotta get their tax dollars, after all. Gotta pay for those hardworking FBI agents and the critical cases they’re working on.
Maybe they were after Mr. Chow?

The hotel room occupants clearly didn’t consent to a police search. If I were the judge, the cops who came and asked for a search warrant after that would spend the night in jail for contempt of court.

Breaking the TV system probably also counts as a “taking”, and the idiots who thought that would be a good idea should have to compensate the gamblers for it.

Interviewing the hotel staff to see whether they’d seen evidence of gambling taking place in the establishment would have been legit. This wasn’t even vaguely close.

No warrant is needed for undercover work. Because anybody you allow into your premises can go to (or be) law enforcement and report your illegal activities.

Darn, I was going to get all mad and ‘4th Amendment’!! and stuff.
But this was totally legal, and against actual criminals as well.
Going undercover and sting operations are totally part of the law enforcement process. I don’t remember a cop show in which they don’t do that (like every episode)
FBI Undercover Requirements
It says that only the Special Agent in Charge needs to approve an undercover operation such as this. Their approval pretty much covers any operation except very dangerous, life threatening cases, or one that may need a bunch of money to use (drugs). This needs higher director or judge approval.

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Undercover work is frequently abused, frankly. In this case, it seems like a clear case of wanting to do a search, and using the fig leaf of “undercover” work to avoid having to get a warrant. Spotting illegal activity (which in this case wouldn’t have been anything that anyone would have recognized as such) and video taping to use as evidence are two different things. The fact that they caused a problem to create an excuse to enter the rooms seems the most problematic to me. Law enforcement surely can’t be allowed to break shit just so that gives them an excuse to enter your home? If this is acceptable, then what’s to stop the police from, say, causing a gas leak and impersonating utility workers to get people out of a building in order to search it without a warrant? Disabling your car so they can rummage around in it? Impersonate a doctor to tell you that you have some medical condition so they have an excuse to get permission for a DNA test? Etc.


no shit, i agree 100%. what’s next? sorry we lit your house on fire so we could illegally search the premise dressed as firemen.


Awesome work guys. Keep it up. Keep nailing the bad guys. Nothing wrong was done here.

So let’s think about this.

We are fighting a war against terrorism because they want to destroy our way of life.

So we destroy our way of life to protect us from terrorism.

Isn’t that doing the work of the terrorists?

P.S. Yes, I know destroy our way of life isn’t the whole aim of terrorists.


How do you feel about tweeting photos of repair guys?

The ones who do good jobs will get free advertising, the ones who do bad jobs have a chance to be weeded from the serviceman pool, and the ones who are undercover will have to get a warrant.

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Sigh… No, it’s just not against their policy. It’s entirely possible, since this news seems to be in the context of a motion to suppress, that it wasn’t legal, and their lawyer is making hey out of that grey area at a minimum. As far as being OK because it’s against actual criminals, thats flat wrong. Rights are rights. At the point where they are doing these kinds of shenanigans, they don’t actually have evidence they’re actual criminals. They just suspect. At that point, there is really nothing to differentiate them from you or I.

Once they do pull this kind of crap, it’s actually WORSE that they did it on actual criminals. If they did it to innocent people, that’s bad enough, it’s a rights violation, it’s wrong, and, these people are violating their sworn duty. But, if they manage to catch someone using dirty tricks, and it comes to light, it jeopardizes the actual punishment of the people they were out to catch. So, the criminal’s rights get violated, and, the ability to punish them for their legitimate crimes is compromised by law enforcement’s inability to follow the rules. That makes it not more, but LESS ok to cut corners when you “know” you’re after bad guys. And if you don’t think that, why the hell would it be justified to cut corners?

No, there’s simply no reason, no excuse, for effecting a search of someone’s person, papers and effects without warrant based on probable cause. Hmm… that phrase seems familiar…

Espionage and law enforcement have traditionally been held to very different standards. When we send spies to collect intelligence on the activities of foreign powers it’s not about building a legal case, it’s about gathering information. When those spies are caught they can also be charged with espionage, usually with very serious consequences.


That’s definitely true. The methods of covert entry, however, are shared.

And in the world where both the law enforcement and the spies roam freely, the methods are more important for the end user, in terms of self-protection, than the hypothetical penalties the adversary could suffer if they by chance get caught and by even more nebulous chance get actually punished.

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