May 06, 2004

University Of Texas Student Questioned By FBI, Secret Service Over FOIA Request

FBI investigates underground tunnel requests - The Daily Texan - Top Stories

Now this is fascinating.

Student submits an Freedom of Information Act request for public documents, specifically the steam tunnels under the University of Texas. The FBI and Secret Service come a'calling, asking questions of him.

The question becomes, as the article points out, how did the FBI & Secret Service get hold of the student's FOIA request?

My favorite line is the last paragraph:

"It would not be normal for us in this office, but [John Jones, the Secret Service agent who questioned Mark Miller, the student] is not assigned to this office," [Edna Perry, special agent-in-charge of the Austin Secret Service office] said. "The Joint Terrorism Task Force probably would look into something like that. [Miller] could be a terrorist. He could be planning a plot."

'Cause you know, while accidental plots are not safe, it's the planned plots which you've got to worry about.

Posted by Ted Stevko at May 6, 2004 11:40 PM | TrackBack

My favorite line as well.

Mark "Planning a Plot" Miller

Posted by: Mark Miller at May 7, 2004 11:36 AM

Howdy, Mark!

What I'm most curious about is, exactly what is there to be gained by repeatedly questioning you? Isn't the point of questioning to eliminate you as a terrorist suspect, not to keep asking you the same questions over and over?

Posted by: Ted Stevko at May 7, 2004 06:08 PM

Ah, sorry, finals week.

Well, it's typical for law enforcement (Which the FBI supposedly is) to ask the same questions over, not immediately one after the other, but over a period of time to verify the consistency of the answers.

This actually works in cases where a party might be guilty.

But it's pretty damn annoying if you're innocent.

The actual interview, while I think it's scary that they would actually bother to do such a thing, and that depending on what you file an open records request for, you might get investigated, was not that bad. It was actually enjoyable being rather sarcastic to them. This was after I learned they wanted to ask questions about the tunnel request, not anything actually serious.

"John Jones, Secret Service"

"Oh, you got done bugging Steve Jackson Games finally?"

He feigned no knowledge of such thing.

And other things like that.

The long hair comment, now let's see...

"What's with the hair?" with fingers pointing to his head...oh...that hair? Ah, dude, I thought you might mean my chest hair when you ask that...gee, thanks for the clarification.

"It's long."


"Because I haven't cut it"


"Because I like it this way"

"You don't see that too often."

"Wait, wait, let's're wearing a suit..*glances around UshiCon, anime convention in Austin, we were in the hotel lobby at the time it was going on* for the Secret Service. You wear a uniform, you have to cut your hair. Now, me, University of Texas. It's a college. Big college. We've got FIFTY THOUSAND STUDENTS. Guess what? Even at 1%, that's still 500 guys with long hair. And chances are, it's much greater than that."

Anywho, I have other finals to take.

Posted by: Mark Miller at May 13, 2004 05:43 PM