The best example of this I can think of is the "100 mile from the border Constitution-free zone", which was the stated position of some moron at DHS that was then (maddeningly, given how great they normally are) picked up by the ACLU. In reality, the notion that there's a 100 mile zone of warrantless personal searches extending inward from every border was a notion that was litigated by SCOTUS in the '70s and, obviously, found wanting.
I would support a public policy that would make statements of this sort ("the CIA has no limits when working with the NYPD!", "We can ghost your laptop as long as you're within 100 miles of any airport!") a firing offense, but short of that, there's not a lot you can do about this problem; if the USG employed 1/4th the number of people it does now, that'd still be over a million people, and no group of one million people can possibly avoid a couple crazy people.
The real check on this sort of stupidity is the courts.
The Border Patrol is able to operate in that zone, and they operate under somewhat different rules than other forms of law enforcement. Furthermore they sometimes interpret their ability to operate somewhat more generously than a court would agree to. So while in theory they can't do what they sometimes do, in practice they are the ones there with guns and they do it anyways.
(In particular the court has ruled that they can stop and question everyone on a public thoroughfare because the intrusion is short in duration. I've seen documented cases where agents in the field clearly believed that they could question for as long as they wanted to question. The reasoning of the court would not support that conclusion...)
So, very much not really a constitution-free zone. But certainly the border patrol walks closer to the edge of constitutional protections that we take for granted.
The border patrol can and does regularly put up blockades on major thoroughfares, stops everyone, and potentially could choose to search anyone that they reasonably suspect was recently out of the country or is illegal.
This is not hypothetical. I personally have encountered this when I was stopped and questioned both on the I-5 just north of San Diego, and on secondary streets in Los Angeles. Neither time did they choose to search me, but I saw others that I believe were searched.
As an aside, the ACLU's "Constitution free zone" campaign isn't referring to citizenship checks†; it's referring to a DHS employee's insistence that being within N miles of anything that could be considered a border subjects you to warrantless border searches. Which, again, is something you can find a SCOTUS case refuting.
† Unfortunately, it's now apparently the law of the land that the police can demand identification from citizens, which is one of the great BS decisions of the last 20 years.
I know that people have done so, and the result has been somewhat interesting. Based on what I've read, I suspect that the actual protection from the 5th amendment is currently being interpreted much more narrowly than they were historically, and if the agents pushed it you have a lot less immunity from having to answer their questions than you would like.
Please note that I said, "I suspect". I have read conflicting opinions on this in the past, have no idea which is right, and so it is necessary to put significant disclaimers next to anything that I say on the topic.
On the other hand, the notion that a bunch of uniformed, armed dudes pulling you off the I5 well north of San Diego for no apparent reason and asking things is 'a search you can refuse' is a little glib. When it happens, 'but wait there is case law' or 'I saw this on youtube' is not the first thing that comes to mind.
Reminder, though: we're talking about two different things: warrantless searches and documentation checks. It is, unfortunately, lawful for the police to demand your identification in a wide variety of circumstances, post Hiibel. (You still have the right to remain silent at those checkpoints, which is what the Youtube videos demonstrate).
The reality is that these border patrol checks do happen, often well outside any reasonable range of an actual border and that they tend to be aggressive and searchy and done by people and to people who most likely did not take a close reading of Almeida-Sanchez v. US.
I have been personally stopped near the AZ/Mexico border (maybe 15 miles away), questioned before being allowed to drive away, and I have never actually crossed that particular border.
They key appears to be not to pull to the side of the road for extended questioning, because as long as you're in the main lane, you're holding up traffic.
The fact is that there are individuals abusing their power and often times they are getting away with it, even when it becomes widely known.
P.S. To add to this, it's important to understand the relation of law to society. There is nothing inherently special about law other than that people generally follow it. The more that people, especially people given power through positions in government, start ignoring or misinterpreting the law the less the law actually matters. What is the truth of legality is irrelevant to the facts on the ground. Murder may be illegal but that won't stop you from being murdered. Similarly, "constitution free zones" may not be legal but that doesn't help you if the police think otherwise. For that particular point, for example, consider the many immigration stops the police make in states near the mexican border. Legally they can't force you to stop and submit to a document check but that doesn't stop them from doing so anyway, and from most people complying to a simple request from a police officer.
The less oversight there is, the less punishment there is, the more likely it is that abuses of power will become more common.
Also known as "the lone wolf" - "bad apple" explanation / defence.
It's not about what he said (which sounds like a BS excuse in the first place) -- or even if he "had no limits" or not. Of course he had limits. He couldn't open fire in 5th Avenue and expect it to be OK.
The issue is what he was doing there and in what authority. Also, does anybody really believes they respect the limitation of operations inside US, because "it's the law"?
The unrelated case of the "100 mile from the border Constitution-free zone" is also not about the legal basis. Dismissing the legend part of it doesn't change the reality of border patrol more often than not taking the law into their hands and doing whatever the fuck they like with little repercussions.
That's the main question. If they had limits or not is secondary.
If they didn't, we would complain they weren't doing their jobs.
.. something other than the topic at hand, where only the gullibe just take "retarded statements" on faith, even if only as much to further discuss them, while the super heroes of intellectual honesty dismiss them on the same basis and blame bad apples.
"Nothing to see here", in however many words it is said, is really just a meme as well.
"Regarding deference, not that long ago, the Justices believed Congress held something close to plenary power when it crafted remedies addressing racial discrimination in voting. In case after case, the Justices made clear that they would not second-guess congressional judgments on the subject. Even as the Justices began looking more rigorously at particular types of congressional remedial action elsewhere, they repeatedly distinguished the invalidated laws from the VRA and celebrated provisions like preclearance as paradigmatic examples of permissible congressional action...
"The decision significantly diminishes Congress’s ability to craft future remedies for racial discrimination in voting and beyond. Indeed, after today, an administrative agency acting within the sphere of its expertise enjoys more discretion than does Congress when acting in the realm in which its power was once viewed to be at its apogee.
"At oral argument last winter, Justice Kagan bristled at the notion that the Court, rather than Congress, was the proper institution to decide when remedial action in this realm was needed. Justice Scalia was nevertheless convinced that “[t]his is not the kind of question you can leave to Congress.” Today’s decision makes clear that a majority of the Court shares this view. Earl Warren would have been astounded. William Rehnquist, too."
The decision hinged upon this very narrow point. Congress' decision to require preclearance was not declared unconstitutional on its own. The problem was that the formula for deciding who required preclearance is a static rule that does not allow for the evaluation of any events after 1972. Therefore, regardless of how much a state or other jurisdiction changes, they could not change their status under this law. If they were originally on the preclearance list, never had another voting anomaly, elected minorities to every position in the state, and had 100% minority turnout, for decades on end, they would remain on the preclearance list, because of what happened 40 years ago.
Chief Justice John Roberts even wrote in his opinion that congress is free to make new legislation that has the same consequences. But it must rely on current data to evaluate jurisdictions.
That's simply not true. You can seek exemption from section 5. It's called "bailing out". A county or state on the preclearance list that has not been discriminatory for 10 years (see  for criteria) may sue to be exempt from Section 5. Many counties have done this successfully; the state of New Hampshire successfully bailed out as recently as this March.
States or counties that were found to be discriminatory could also be "bailed in." Arkansas and New Mexico, LA County in California, as well as several other counties were bailed in.
In other words, the Voting Rights Act was built with a mechanism to self-destruct when it was no longer necessary. Congress overwhelmingly approved an extension of the VRA in 2006 after extensive research and testimony. If a state or county was still covered in 2013, then it had a problem with discrimination within the past ten years, which is the minority thought the opinion that "things have changed" was foolish.
If they were originally on the preclearance list, never had another voting anomaly, elected minorities to every position in the state, and had 100% minority turnout, for decades on end, they could introduce a bill in Congress to end preclearance in their specific case. Of course, the current data from those jurisdictions is probably nearly as dismal as it was in 1972, so this wouldn't happen. Instead, the requirement for preclearance has been removed by dictate, with no evidence that the situation has significantly changed.
I fully understand that this is case of little boys playing cops and robbers and making the rules up as they go.. but they are playing with real guns.
You violate some law online (knowingly or unknowingly, doesn't matter), and the NSA records it and flags it for later review based on some pattern matching. Upon review, it gets forwarded (at the discretion of an agent who will make his determination with little oversight) to an embedded CIA agent in your local PD. Forbidden from operating against you themselves by federal law, they inform the local PD of the problem and you get a SWAT team at your house at 2am.
I don't think we are there yet, but I'm actually not convinced that the average American will see this as a problem - after all, they have nothing to hide.
The real divide is really between progressives who want less corporate involvment in government and more real government regulations, and those who benefit from regulatory capture. In the middle are those who don't know what to believe. For example, GMOs. The corporate interests want them permitted and unlabeled as much as possible. Progressives make noise about how they (or the associated pesticides/herbicides) could be dangerous to people and/or the environment. Government run by corporate interests doesn't want the information to spread to the less informed, they don't want people thinking about those things.
Protests and information campaigns are essential to a working democratic republic, and they will be the first targeted by the surveillance information.
Turning secret inadmissible evidence into legal admissible evidence seems tricky.
The only game plan I can see is this:
You find out someone is up to something illegal; then you just happen have have a police officer walking by the coffee shop when you're discussing it with an associate.
No, not really. They have to show e.g. probable cause but they can happily use secret information to create serendipity: "We happened to be parked outside the suspect's location at just the right time to wittiness them talking to a known communist sympathizer."
Its not unusual for information from paid informants to get washed in this way in order to conceal their identity and prolong their usefulness.
For instance in the original example you're violating an internet law. It's not exactly something the PD can just pretend to stumble upon unless you're really careless and do it in a public place.
Even your crimes are secrets to be withheld from you.
The FBI, CIA and military intelligence agencies are known for hiding information from each other.
1. Air Force Intelligence, Army Intelligence, CIA, Coast Guard Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency, DoE, DHS, State Department, Treasury, DEA, FBI, Marine Corps Intelligence, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, NSA, Navy Intelligence
"That officer believed there were 'no limitations' on his activities, the report said, because he was on an unpaid leave of absence, and thus exempt from the prohibition against domestic spying by members of the C.I.A."
I don't think either CIA or NSA have any respect left for the spirit of the law. They "just do what they have to do", and figure out the legal issues later through whatever loopholes they can find.
The brain damage is displayed by those who keep giving authoritarians the benefit of the doubt.
This is similar to the American flying tigers who resigned their commissions with the US army to become mercenarys - which is presumably the precedent that the lawyers woudl have used.
EDIT: I forgot to mention that he had worked with the NYPD on behalf of the CIA as a counter-terrorism adviser from late 2001-2004. Then he want back to working with the CIA, but the NYPD asked if they could hire him onto staff and he stayed with the NYPD after that, retiring from the CIA in 2009.
I think people have been getting confused by the NYT's use of the word 'embedded' which implies he was working for the CIA while spending his days with the NYPD, much as a journalist files reports to his TV or print media employer while embedded with the military. It's an odd choice of words, as nothing in the report suggests that this was the case.
Plus he probably gets to maintain all his contacts at the CIA and leverage them for whatever messed-up stuff the NYPD is up to, like their surveillance of innocent muslims, mosques, etc.
What's incredible is that people will take the excuse at face value --or even believe he really was on "unpaid leave" and still allowed to be there.
Whats gonna happen next? Well thats up to you. How many more times are you going to let government entities operate outside their defined jurisdictions and boundaries?
Even if a document was declassified, when will you believe things and not believe things.
Do you think this could just be a document the government is feeding us compared to actual witnesses? Cops are expected to tell the truth even in court. So I guess this begs the question who is really telling the truth.
Point is, the government overall just can't be trusted to keep a straight answer.
Revealed: how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy
Once they started going over the collected data, how much further to specifically target key organizers? It could have been through blackmail (ala FBI's threatening letter to MLK) or just simply hyper-vigilant enforcement of all laws made so much easier thanks to the constant surveillance the NSA can provide.
As tptacek says, this isn't a new thing. It's not even something that's all that interesting, frankly. People from various agencies cross-pollinate all of the time. If worked a boring analyst job at CIA, I might love taking a leave of absence and helping the cops out some. Sounds like fun.
Sure, it would be news if the CIA actually ran operations in NYC, but this story is about employees of the CIA being embedded in the NYC police, not about secret CIA operations inside the country. That's a different can of worms. Perhaps something bad happened. Don't know. This story doesn't inform us of it. Instead we just get vague allegations without proof. As the report states, this is an unusual personnel situation, not some massive policy disaster. The rest of it is just blown out of proportion by this author.
I've said this before, and I'm sure I'll say it again: the biggest problem with these freedom or safety stories is that people get way too passionate, try to interject their own narrative about how things work, lay on the paranoia thickly, and have a good old Donnybrook. Might get a lot of page views like that, but it's not useful.
People should be really concerned about what's going on in the US with regards to the security state. This is a serious problem and it deserves our passion. But "being concerned" and "having your chain yanked" are two different things. Smart folks know the difference. I'm not pointing a finger at this author precisely, but I'm starting to see a lot of overly-emotional, hand-waving tripe coming across the wires in the guise of various kinds of "breaking stories"
To me, this is actually a little confusing. My assumption has always been that the CIA was the intelligence agency which...gathers intelligence. If the government itself is forbidding them from domestic surveillance, it makes me question their tactics and methods that would be unconstitutional...I guess it could be that this is suppose to be the work of the DHS and NSA.
It is smart to divide them up really, the idea is they communicate with one another and provide some checks on each other. There is also the DIA primarily intelligence for the military. There have been some CIA and DIA butting heads after 9/11.