Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Meeting with Agent Starling

My much awaited meeting with Agent Starling was totally anti-climactic. I was almost disappointed. I was expecting to meet with some obnoxious bureau agent, who I could direct my outrage at. Instead, I met a polite, gracious woman, who was almost apologetic about the whole issue. She looked like an ordinary government official. No Agent Smith sunglasses for her. I guess its a good thing it turned out to be her... She actually encouraged me to consider a career in the FBI! But I am not an American citizen. Do I want to be one? I don't know. Its off topic anyway.

It began with me giving her my `background'. It was really unnecessary, because the FBI can obtain all this information from the SEVIS database into which all of it is already entered. It was more of a `co-operation' thing. The human touch. Anyway, she also got my current residential address and my cellphone number. Will they tap my phone? I don't know. Should I have not given it to her? I don't really see how that would have helped, because its no big deal for the FBI to get my number. Not giving it to her would only have raised suspicions. I then showed her the pictures I had clicked in Boston. I gave her the purpose of my visit (the concert).

Apparently, she is on the JTTF - Joint Terrorism Task Force, around the Providence area. That is how the `suspicious activity' report filed in Boston worked its way to her. Clicking pictures in the train station is classified by the intelligence agencies as possible `pre-operation surveillance'. In effect, our meeting was (in her words,) to establish that this report was `unfounded'. At first, I was surprised she found out my office location, knowing just my name - but I figured all she would need to do is a Google Search. Indeed, Ms Starling admitted to as much! Ahh, the wonders of modern technology... I also told her that I distinctly remembered having seen someone else clicking snaps at the same time I was. She was apologetic when she heard that no one stopped him for questioning.

I asked her if there were any statutes that governed our meeting. She didn't know if there were any. It was her job to do `this kind of stuff'. I also wanted to know what would happen with all the information she just got. She said she would file a report with the agency saying she met the `suspect' (that's me), and found no sign of any unlawful activity or intent. The filed report is of course going to be permanent. Any other agent who will pull up a list for suspicious activities of the kind I just mentioned, will also see my report. I was worried about being flagged at airports and other places. Agent Starling assured me that wouldn't happen. I only have her word for it.

And that was it. It was over. She wished me a nice day, and left.


Anonymous said...

Here is I really nasty issue. What if this happens to someone who a little while down the road wants to get a job that requires a Security Clearance, like a lot of computer industry jobs working for the Government do. One of the things that will probably be asked is if you have ever been investigated by the FBI. The fact that you have probably doesn't disqualify you. But it may make it the anal exam a little rougher.

Not talking literal anal exam, here. It is just a big fat stack of paperwork you have to fill out where they want to know practically everything about you, including the names of people they can talk to and such. Put it this way, I've done it once, it wasn't horrible, but it just leaves one feeling a bit violated, and that is without having to wonder what they'd think about being investigated by the FBI. It would definitely be a dis-incentive to apply for jobs like that at the very least.

Shashank said...

Yeah, I figure it can happen. Its exasperating, to say the least. But what can I do, if anything at all? Where do I seek redress?

Fuck the system, man.

Deepak said...

In Soviet Russia, the system fucks You !!!!