More Warrentless Government Spying?

From Scout:

Below I posted a story from the Times Leader on the federal prosecution of a man who allegedly attempted to “provide material aid to al-Qaeda.” It’s a convoluted story that includes an FBI sting in which Shannen Rossmiller, a part time Montana judge and member of 7 Seas Global Intelligence was used to lure the man. The Times Leader says “She was working for the FBI.” The Spokeman reports on Rossmiller and 7 Seas in a May 2004 article entitled “Terrorist Hunters Get Mixed Review….

“They” are a little-known group of seven civilians — unpaid, volunteer terrorist-hunters — called “7 Seas Global Intelligence. The international group stumbled into the spotlight this week when one of its members, small-town Montana judge Shannen Rossmiller, testified how she’d tracked down Ryan Anderson, a Washington National Guardsman accused of trying to slip military information to al Qaeda terrorists.

For the past four years, Rossmiller has worked part-time as an appointed local judge.

Terrorism experts were concerned that the activities of 7 Seas and other such groups may be dangerous to themselves and may jeopardize ongoing undercover investigations.

More troublesome is 7 Seas tactics of snooping and their relationship to the FBI. Rossmiller and 7 Seas operate “unencumbered by bureaucracy or by laws requiring warrants or prohibiting entrapment “ as it uses a snooping program called “Realtime Spyware” on some people” which allows them to secretly peek into computers. Rossmiller claims they do not use the program on anyone in the US. (sound familiar) The FBI has not discouraged such groups. In 2004 an FBI spokesman stated ….

“We’ve always relied on our good relationship with citizens as our eyes and ears in the community,” Wright said. “This is just a new twist on an old theme. It’s sort of like a cyber Neighborhood Watch.”

It sounds like much more than encouraging a neighbothood watch. Rossmiller “worked” for the FBI (see Times Leader link) as well has another 7 Seas member according to the Spokesman Review….

Unbeknownst to some members, 7 Seas apparently has at least one indirect link to law enforcement. According to testimony by FBI special agent Troy Sowers, one of the founders of 7 Seas was a confidential informant the FBI paid in cash. Sowers identified the man as Merrill Singletary, although there was no way at the tightly controlled Army hearing to confirm the spelling of the name. Rossmiller, who said Singletary is no longer one of the group’s members, referred to him as Terry Singletary. She said he lived in Pocatello, Idaho. He could not be reached for comment.

This sounds like a twist on illegal government spying as the FBI has found someone to do what they can not do legally without warrants or that was the case prior to George Bush’s interpretation of the Constitution.