From the “Stuff too weirdly mundane to pass as fiction” files. Gawker‘s Adrian Chen sternly warns us “Don’t Post Pictures of an FBI Tracking Device You Find on a Car to the Internet“, and links to a Wired report: “Caught Spying on Student, FBI Demands GPS Tracker Back“:
… Afifi, a business marketing student at Mission College in Santa Clara, discovered the device last Sunday when he took his car to a local garage for an oil change. When a mechanic at Ali’s Auto Care raised his Ford Lincoln LS on hydraulic lifts, Afifi saw a wire sticking out near the right rear wheel and exhaust… A closer inspection showed it connected to a battery pack and transmitter, which were attached to the car with a magnet.
Afifi considered selling the device on Craigslist before the FBI showed up. He was in his apartment Tuesday afternoon when a roommate told him “two sneaky-looking people” were near his car. Afifi, already heading out for an appointment, encountered a man and woman looking his vehicle outside. The man asked if Afifi knew his registration tag was expired. When Afifi asked if it bothered him, the man just smiled. Afifi got into his car and headed for the parking lot exit when two SUVs pulled up with flashing lights carrying four police officers in bullet-proof vests.
The agent who initially spoke with Afifi identified himself then as Vincent and told Afifi, “We’re here to recover the device you found on your vehicle. It’s federal property. It’s an expensive piece, and we need it right now.”
Afifi asked, “Are you the guys that put it there?” and the agent replied, “Yeah, I put it there.” He told Afifi, “We’re going to make this much more difficult for you if you don’t cooperate.”…
The agents told Afifi they had other agents outside Khaled’s house. “If you want us to call them off and not talk to him we can do that,” Afifi said they told him. “That was weird. […] I didn’t really believe anything they were saying.”
The female agent, who handed Afifi a card, identified herself as Jennifer Kanaan and said she was Lebanese. She spoke some Arabic to Afifi and through the course of her comments indicated she knew what restaurants he and his girlfriend frequented. She also congratulated him on his new job. Afifi got laid off from his job a couple of days ago, but on the same day was hired as an international sales manager of laptops and computers for Cal Micro in San Jose.
Afifi’s encounter with the FBI ended with the agents telling him not to worry.
“We have all the information we needed,” they told him. “You don’t need to call your lawyer. Don’t worry, you’re boring.”
Much more context at the Wired link.
On the one hand, I agree with Chen that “the level of detail the agents knew about Afifi’s life it details is chilling.” On the other… does it really “help the creeps out” to “post evidence of their shoddy work to the Internet” ? Should we be reassured that the FBI has so little to keep them gainfully occupied that they’re assigning this level of survelliance to 20-year-old business-marketing students in San Diego?
Or is it paranoid to wonder if “they” are pulling stunts like this just so us DFHs will assume our national watchmen are taking their cues from old Cheech & Chong routines?