FOX News ran this story about Jamie Seeger, a mother of two who was killed while working as an informant for a local sheriff's office in Florida. The family is suing in an effort to get more information. Story here: Slain mom was working for sheriff's office. Seeger's death may bring new scrutiny to the efficacy of Rachel's Law, which imposed new regulations on police creation and use of informants.
Foreign Policy just published this article on the troubling use of informants in domestic counter-terrorism: Does the FBI Have an Informant Problem? The piece analyzes the large challenges of using unregulated criminal informants to do law enforcement work, and discusses a series of recent examples. From the article:
Professional informants are paid by law enforcement to infiltrate criminal or extremist circles, sometimes on a full-time basis. Yet they're not considered employees of the government and are not subject to the same rules. From warrantless searches to sex with targets to constructing terrorist plots out of thin air, the informant problem is not new, but this powerful investigative tool is under pressure like never before after being exposed to the harsh light of day in a series of recent terrorism trials. Growing media scrutiny and a pending civil lawsuit in California are aggressively challenging whether the benefits of aggressive informant tactics outweigh the risk to civil liberties and are raising troubling questions about the legitimacy of terrorism investigations.
The New Yorker article is generating new awareness and a lot of great discussion about young informants and the use of criminal informants more generally. TalkLeft discusses the overall challenges of informant use here: Informants as Pawns in the War on Drugs. NPR's Talk of the Nation did a special segment on the topic here: Use of Confidential Informants Mostly Unregulated.
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