FBI demands Las Vegas Hotel guest lists


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jimpeel
January 5, 2004, 03:06 AM
SOURCE (http://news.myway.com/top/article/id/331898|top|01-04-2004::15:45|reuters.html)

FBI Checked Las Vegas Hotel Lists in Terror Alert

Jan 4, 3:30 PM (ET)

By Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The FBI demanded Las Vegas hotels turn over their guest lists leading up to New Year's Eve to check against a U.S. master list of suspected terrorists, a law enforcement official said on Sunday.

The demand for "patron information" went to all major hotels in the Nevada casino and entertainment city, said the official who declined to be named.

Las Vegas was one of six or seven cities mentioned in intelligence reports as potential targets for a terrorist attack during the holiday period, Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn said on New Year's Eve.

A second U.S. government official said to his knowledge only one hotel had balked at providing its bookings list. Newsweek, the first to report the FBI demand, said one big hotel had refused and was "slapped with a subpoena."

The unspecified hotel apparently wanted some "cover" against any privacy-related guest complaints, the official told Reuters. The FBI sent a letter linking the demand to a national security investigation or hinting at a "friendly" subpoena to meet the hotel's concerns, he added.

The Justice Department, the FBI's parent agency, declined comment on any specific effort to thwart possible plots since the Dec. 21 raising of the U.S. warning level to Code Orange, its second highest level.

Among other worries, U.S. officials have said they fear terrorists may be trying to outdo the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked airliner attacks that killed about 3,000 people in the United States.

Las Vegas, along with New York City's Times Square, features one of the biggest New Year's Eve block parties with revelers thronging its garish, 3-mile long, hotel and casino "strip."

The Federal Aviation Administration barred pilots from flying over the New Year's Eve festivities in Las Vegas and New York as a precautionary measure.

Asked about the Las Vegas hotel records, Mark Corallo, a Justice Department spokesman, said: "Without comment on any specific case or instance, we will use every legal tool we have to protect the American people from terrorist attacks."

PRIVACY CONCERNS

A representative of the American Civil Liberties Union said the demand for guest records, without any individual suspicion, infringed on the privacy of as many as 300,000 people "whose leisure activities are no one's business but their own."

The action also showed the FBI's expanded, post-Sept. 11 power to obtain personal records without judicial review or suspicion about an individual "may well be used to monitor ordinary Americans," said Timothy Edgar, the ACLU's legislative counsel.

In a sign of unabated U.S. concern, the head of a House of Representatives' committee with access to intelligence information said on Sunday al Qaeda remained bent on using hijacked airliners as weapons.

"There is no question that al Qaeda still wants to use airplanes as weapons," Rep. Christopher Cox, the California Republican who chairs the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, said on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

"There's no question that there's planning going on and there's no question that the threats, as they've been assessed, are real," he added.

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jimpeel
January 5, 2004, 03:14 AM
SOURCE (http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2003/Dec-31-Wed-2003/news/22903017.html)

Airlines, hotels ordered to give FBI information

By ROD SMITH
GAMING WIRE

Las Vegas hotel operators and airlines serving McCarran International Airport are being required by the FBI to turn over all guest and passenger names and personal information, at least during the holiday period, several sources said Tuesday.

FBI spokesman Todd Palmer confirmed the federal action and said the requirement that the companies surrender customer information is a "normal investigative procedure."

However, Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for the Nevada Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the program "clearly is not part of a normal investigation.

"What we seem to be witnessing at this point is a move on the part of the government to keep tabs on what everyone is doing all the time, which has serious civil liberties implications," Lichtenstein said.

"It's one thing to have some specific security concerns and a targeted investigation with some basis in fact, but to ... try to follow everyone goes beyond what is called for."

Hotel operators who asked not to be identified said the information being provided to federal officials includes guest and passenger names, addresses and personal identification information, but not casino records or guest gambling information.

But Palmer said "at this point" all the bureau is getting is guest and passenger names. He also said the program was started about a week ago but the timing varied for different companies.

He said the program was started because the Department of Homeland Security increased the national alert status, and that all cities of 50,000 or more had been told to "what was needed to make sure the cities were safe and secure."

Palmer said the Las Vegas FBI office has not been told what other cities are affected by similar programs.

He said the FBI in Las Vegas is receiving 100 percent cooperation from the gaming companies and airline operators.

Hotel operators said similar information was demanded by federal authorities for about six months following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C.

Spokesmen for the casino companies said they agreed unanimously a week ago to comply with the FBI demands except for one company which insisted on receiving "national security letters" before surrendering guest records. Airlines are complying under subpoena from federal authorities.

President Bush signed legislation earlier this month expanding the authority of the bureau and other U.S. authorities conducting counterterrorist intelligence. The law authorizes them to demand records from financial companies including casinos without seeking court approval.

Previously, casino companies generally released such private information only under subpoena. But under the new law, they will be required to release it if national security letters are issued by federal investigators.

The information is being transmitted electronically to the FBI on what could amount to 300,000 visitors to Las Vegas daily.

The program of collecting information on guests and passengers was started following a meeting called by federal and state law enforcement agencies.

Bill Thompson, University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor and casino industry expert, called the federal collection of information an invasion of privacy for Las Vegas visitors. He warned it could discourage visitors from coming to Las Vegas.

"It creates an image like Central America, where (security) people stand around on street corners with their Uzis and it doesn't feel good," he said. "It's going to be cumbersome, bothersome and hurt tourism generally if it persists at all."

Visitors interviewed Tuesday on the Strip were less concerned about the FBI program.

Ronald Cohen of East Windsor, N.J., said he could see the World Trade Center site from his office, and he doesn't worry about privacy issues any more.

"Anything they do is a good thing. I have no problems with it, "he said.

Nathan Irby of Baltimore agreed, saying the program may be a small invasion of privacy, "but it's justified because they have to take every precaution after 9-11."

Still another person agreed.

"In today's world, it makes sense for the FBI to look at these lists, and they'd be crazy if they didn't do it," said Paul Van Oost of Melbourne, Australia.

Representatives of casino operators said they would not comment on any specific security measures taken to protect their guests, but they said the safety of their guests is their top concern.

A spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines, Christine Turneabe-Connelly, said FBI officials recently subpoenaed airline records for all passengers traveling into or out of Las Vegas from Dec. 22 through Jan. 4.

She was uncertain what specific information the airlines were required to turn over to authorities. But she said her Dallas-based carrier complied with the FBI requests in an effort to protect its passengers' safety.

Officials at America West Airlines, the airport's second-largest carrier, wouldn't comment on whether they have been asked to supply specific information about the airline's Las Vegas operations.

But spokeswoman Janice Monahan said the Tempe, Ariz.-based airline is cooperating with federal anti-terror efforts, including fulfilling government "requests for information" as well as meeting increased security directives.

Earlier this year, Kew Gardens, N.Y.-based JetBlue Airways drew the ire of consumer advocates and attorneys in two states after the discovery that the airline released private passenger information to an Alabama company at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense, USA Today reported in August.

Several class-action lawsuits stemming from that action are pending, JetBlue spokesman Gareth Edmondson-Jones said Tuesday. But he said the federal government is not investigating.

Edmondson-Jones also said he was unaware of the FBI's recent request for information regarding Las Vegas airline passengers.

Gaming Wire writers Chris Jones and Jeff Simpson contributed to this report.

Lone_Gunman
January 5, 2004, 08:13 AM
Patriot Act in action, its all totally legal now.

TheOtherOne
January 5, 2004, 08:34 AM
But it makes us safer. :barf:

A terrorist will always use his real name when checking into a hotel. It's in their handbook.

Baba Louie
January 5, 2004, 08:37 AM
And I'm quite certain that the "Carlos T. Jackel's" of the world would travel under their real names as opposed to a nom de plume complete with quality passport, photo ID and necessary credit check update...
Or that they wouldn't just fly into San Diego or Burbank and make the drive up I-15...
Just more files for their computer system to sift through. We only get about 22 million people coming through McCarran annually nowadays.
Gonna have to do something about that interstate tho... maybe a checkpoint when entering the state at Primm, manned by Dept of Homeland Security/INS.
Yeah, thats the ticket. I mean, who would complain about that? Its for your own safety?
Liberty? Freedom?
"Hey! We never hasseled anybody".
Plus the fact that its a good exercise for future, er, ah, endeavours.

"I've got this Idea Mrs. President. You've had experience with Travel Office types:uhoh: Let's make all airline travel ticket purchases run through our government computers... We can stop anybody we need to by flagging their ticket on our computer and we can also hook into the Hotel reservation systems, or credit card companies. I mean, its for the children, who's gonna complain?"
"That way we can nail those nasty terrorists every time"
"By the way, the Senators from New York and California want to expand the definition of terrorist a little bit"...
Whaddya think? Patriot Act III?
(OK, I'll take my tin-foil hat off now... back to your regular scheduled programming)

El Tejon
January 5, 2004, 09:17 AM
Good thing I always go by "Mr. Smith and nieces".:D

Smoke
January 5, 2004, 11:12 AM
A second U.S. government official said to his knowledge only one hotel had balked at providing its bookings list. Newsweek, the first to report the FBI demand, said one big hotel had refused and was "slapped with a subpoena."

...and isn't this the proper process?

Why only one?

Smoke

clubsoda22
January 5, 2004, 12:05 PM
Allen Marcus...that's close enough to abdullah mohammed, let's subpoena the whole damn bunch!

buzz_knox
January 5, 2004, 12:32 PM
Or maybe they actually had an alias they were looking for? Nah, it couldn't be that they were following up on a lead or anything . . . just like they've been doing in normal criminal investigations for several decades now.

jimpeel
January 5, 2004, 01:42 PM
Remember this one? Anyone here named David Nelson? (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=38498)I wonder how many David Nelsons were on the lists. Sounds like a Middle Eastern name to me.

I've even had a David Nelson stay here at the motel. When I showed him the article on the feds harrassing anyone with his name, he was mildly amused.

El TejonGood thing I always go by "Mr. Smith and nieces".So that was you ... :D

DJJ
January 5, 2004, 07:51 PM
Maybe they're afraid of a drunken terrorist shooting up one of the casinos' walk-in freezers. It's happened, before, you know.

jimpeel
January 5, 2004, 10:06 PM
That would be the Jihad Bikers from Hell, I assume? :D

Jeff White
January 5, 2004, 11:19 PM
jimpeel,
If the fibbies show up at your motel and demand the records, will you surrender them? Have you already secured a lawyer to fight it?

I don't agree with this any more then you do, but out of all the regulars here, you are the guy most likely to have to deal with this particular ourage.

Jeff

jimpeel
January 5, 2004, 11:34 PM
I will NOT surrender any files to them without a subpoena -- and I don't mean the "friendly" kind.

I have a responsibility to safeguard the people who come here with a reasonable expectation of privacy. If they want to do a fishing trip, they will have to do it elsewhere. Unless they can give me a search warrant for specific people or records, they get bupkis from me.

I do, however, have a corporate office that I have to deal with and they may do a squat-n-pee end run around me. In that case, there is nothing I will be able to do but stand there and glower.

Thanks for the thought.

jimpeel
January 6, 2004, 05:42 PM
I asked the Corporate off ice what would be the response to an FBI "request" for records and she said "Kiss my a--". No warrant or subpoena; no files. Period.

She said that they had tried this before on a couple of occasions but were told they would have to produce paper or go home wanting.

N3rday
January 6, 2004, 05:45 PM
:fire: :cuss: :fire: :cuss: :fire: :cuss: :fire: :cuss: <------ responsible citizens

alan
January 6, 2004, 06:13 PM
Seems as if the chickens have come home to roost, in this case, the "chickens" being the overly broad powers that our "congress critters", without so much as the proverbial by your leave, have heaped on the FBI.

Strikes me that, at this point in time, reasonable assumptions to draw are the following.

1. That our congress critters, very badly, need to go back to square one, in the process, taking a very cold, hard look at what the blazes they are doing/have done.

2. That the above mentioned congress critters, badly need to start asking serious questions of Dept. of Justice, and what appear more and more like run away goon squads, that operate uder it's ageis.

3. This FBI must be made to realize that such things as The Fourth Amendment were meant to serve as restrictions on the antics of such mobs as it seemingly has turned out to be. If compelling the above realization requires the rolling of heads, so be it, and the head of The Director could well be as good a place to start as any other.

4. At the risk of being terribly old fashioned, every member of the Congress (House and Senate) was sworn to support, uphold and defend The Constitution. Essentially, it strikes me that that is what they are paid to do. When are they going to start earning their pay? Re The Constitution, and allegation to the effect that particular actions are violative thereof, it has been said in defense of government actions that "the constitution is not a suicide pact". To an extent, that might be true, however this admonition cannot defend what appears to be the shredding of constitutional guarantees, everytime some burecrat chooses to raise the cry of Homeland Security or National Security, for if that becomes the accepted norm, then we might just as well tear up The Constitution. Speaking personally, I would rather not see that take place.

Baba Louie
January 6, 2004, 08:25 PM
I'd speculate that the Fibbies might have hinted something to the effect that a "patriotic American loving Casino Owner who wanted to keep his gaming license and the IRS off his back would be wise to"... to which the patriotic american loving casino owner said, "you know, it really would be a good idea if we ran a list of all our guests and players by you guys to see if any, you know, bad guy types might be planning to, you know, drop some skunk scent in the crowd"...

Substitute Airline Owner with Casino Owner, gaming license with whatever license airlines need and FAA with IRS in the above sentence and well, its mere speculation on my part, of course...

But then again, seriously, (and I mean it) if doing this type of police work 2 years 4 months ago would have stopped 4 jihad crews (before the fact) on Sept 10 or 11th 2001, we'd still be railing against the agencies today for violating the 4 jihad crews constitutional rights since we'd then never have seen 3,000+ people die, two towers collapse, the Pentagon sliced open, a hole in a pasture in PA...

Da*ned if ya do, da*ned if ya don't.
The bad thing is I suspect it'll get worse before it gets better... we'll never go back to earlier days...
and the Constitution?
Whats that?
Its what SCOTUS says it is. (Read Animal Farm one more time, read it to your kids or grandkids)

alan
January 6, 2004, 11:45 PM
Baba Louie:

I suspect it's likely that the verbal picture of the Fan Belt Inspectors in operation that you drew, might be closer to the truth than some, perhaps many would imagine.

Having said that, I wonder as to exactly where it all stops. Casino owners yesterday, the owners of an airline today, tomorrow the guy that runs the corner news stand, followed by the proprietor of the corner gin mill, and on it goes, till where it stops, nobody knows.

As you said, the country, as we knew it, is gone. Does that mean that the dirtbag terrorists won, or does that mean that the dirtbag statists won. Either way, John Q. Public, law abiding citizen has lost,, or so it appears.
What might be really interesting to speculate on is the following. What might happen when the poor bastard wakes up to what has been going on, to what has happened to "his" country?

Andendum

As noted by another poster, No doubt, Carlos always registers into hotels, when on the road, under his own name, with his own passport or other forms of "documents". When that "polite" request for Papers PLease becomes common, Carlos will always have the proper documents, or at least what appear to be the above mentioned. John Q. Public, not being the sharpest pencil in the box, might well not be so equipped, at any given moment. Sort of awkward for him, no?

By the way, re what happened 2 years and 4 months ago, I strongly suspect that ARMED PILOTS might have been a whole lot more valuable than "this sort of police work", but given that we shall never know about that, it's all speculation, isn't it?

jimpeel
January 7, 2004, 12:38 AM
When people come in to register, I ask for their drivers license so I can get the address info for the registration card. I don't do this for anyone but myself.

When we first started managing the motel, we had people fill out the registration card by hand and then transposed the info into the database. In too many cases I would have to ask them what they wrote and, of course, every time I did that I was, in essence, saying "Your handwriting sucks".

So I started getting the info from the DL and all the problems went away because the computer generates the registration card.

I have had a couple of people in here who didn't like being in our computer. I had to explain to them that the computer is a stand-alone unit and not tied into any network and that the number of files in the database is quite small, by today's standards, so the files fall out the back end after about four months.

Then I get those who are bothered by the fact that their info is no longer in the database because they were here nine months ago.

Can't please them all.

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