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traeumer

Geocaching, Dc, & The Fbi

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I had just found my 6th geocache in the DC on 1/21/05 & I was cold, tired, and ready to go home. I found parts one and two easily, but it took me about 10 minutes to find part three. Shortly thereafter I was looking at a DC map trying to find the nearest metro when an FBI car showed up with its lights flashing. I was hoping to ask them where the nearest metro was, but when I went to ask them (there were two FBI agents: one man and one woman), they started interrogating me for 20 minutes. Here’s the dialogue as I remember it:

 

FBI woman: How long have you been in the area?

Me (confused): What do you mean?

FBI man: How long have you been here (around the Canadian Embassy)?

Me (perplexed): About 10 minutes I suppose.

FBI woman: Do you have a PDA on you?

Me: No.

FBI woman: Do you have a GPS on you?

Me: Yes.

FBI man: What were you doing with it?

Me: (An explanation of geocaching followed and they both looked confused—or at least they played it that way.)

FBI man: Can we see your ID?

FBI agents: (At this point a long string of questions followed, ex: Why are you here? Have you been to DC before? When and how many times? When did you get here? Where are you staying? When are you leaving?)

FBI woman: Have you been by the national archives today?

Me: No, but I was by the Art museum. (Shortly after, I did remember I walked by the archives on my way to a geocache, but that was three hours beforehand; they had been watching me geocache all over DC!)

Me: What are you going to do with my information?

FBI man: (Calls the information in)

FBI woman: We're not going to type this information into a database (yeah right), we just need to check the information with headquarters. We talk to anyone with a GPS or PDA who has been in the vicinity of multiple federal buildings.

FBI man: (Gets off the phone after calling in my info). We have a problem. (They have a private conference.)

FBI man: (They come back to me, but did not explain ‘the problem.’) Can we have your home and office phone numbers?

FBI woman: Thanks for your time.

 

It sounds funny, but it was incredibly frustrating. My DC friend said this happens to people all the time. It’s so nice to see our tax dollars at work…

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You didn't tell them that you know me, did you?

 

That sure would put a damper on the day.

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It sounds funny, but it was incredibly frustrating. My DC friend said this happens to people all the time. It’s so nice to see our tax dollars at work…

Its too bad this type of thing has to take place, but I'd rather spend a few minutes answering questions about my behavior than to have those who protect and serve ignore a situation which they weren't comfortable with.

 

Not that that has ever happened to me .... :rolleyes:

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You would think the FBI would be able to go back to their car and type www.geocaching.com in on a wireless laptop or at least tell the people in the office to do it.

 

It may also help to carry a printout of the cache you are looking for so they can type in the co-ordinates also to see you aren't making it up.

 

Unless of course you created this whole webiste as a decoy. :rolleyes:

Edited by Eric K
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Did you have the paper cache sheets with you? As mentioned above, you could have given these to them.

 

I would be shaking still today if two FBI agents stopped me.

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It probably didn't help that you kept saying "Oh, Allah, help me through this..." over and over again.

 

I kid, I kid.

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Be glad you were looking for a cache and not hiding an ammo can.

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Did you have the paper cache sheets with you? As mentioned above, you could have given these to them.

 

I would be shaking still today if two FBI agents stopped me.

Nope. My friend’s printer was on the fritz, so I scribbled everything on a small card.

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You probably should not have started the exchange by asking, 'Which way to Mecca?' :rolleyes:

 

Why did they ask about a pda? Is someone who takes notes on a pda somehow more dangerous than a person with a pad and pen?

 

The entire exchange was silly. Legally, they could not even compel you to give any info without first having reasonable evidence that you had broken a law. BTW, carrying a pda or GPSr does not constitute such evidence.

 

edited to deal with that nasty typo.

Edited by sbell111
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PDAs are suspicious, too? Wierd.

 

And if I wanted to know the coordinates of federal buildings, I would just use Terraserver or online maps. No need to walk there with a GPSr. But yeah, the FBI is right, the terrorists might not have heard of Terraserver

:rolleyes:

 

I guess this is the same category when people who apply for visas have to fill out a form asking questions like "Are you a terrorist?", etc.

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What day did this happen? I could see the FBI being a bit uptight if it was right around the presidential inauguration. We did virtually every cache in DC (ha! I made a pun! They're ALL virtuals!) a few months ago without any problems.

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I once got a job at an airline. In the process, I had to submit to an FBI background check (One of seven or eight that I've had to have for different jobs that I've had). One of the questions that I had to answer for the FBI was whether I had ever been arrested for hijacking an aircraft.

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Funny -- I have been to those same places, I was there at night and had a PDA. No one stopped me, but I bet they have some great pictures of me! :rolleyes:

 

While at the Canadian Embassy, did you go to the round chamber area outside of the main entrance overlooking Constitution (Street or Avenue, can't remember off of the top of my head)? If you didn't you missed a great echo area.

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What day did this happen? I could see the FBI being a bit uptight if it was right around the presidential inauguration. We did virtually every cache in DC (ha! I made a pun! They're ALL virtuals!) a few months ago without any problems.

The first sentence said it was on 1/21/05...the day after the inauguration.

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What day did this happen? I could see the FBI being a bit uptight if it was right around the presidential inauguration. We did virtually every cache in DC (ha! I made a pun! They're ALL virtuals!) a few months ago without any problems.

The first sentence said it was on 1/21/05...the day after the inauguration.

http://www.rif.org/

 

:rolleyes:

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The entire exchange was silly. Legally, they could not even compel you to give any info without first having reasonable evidence that you had broken a law. BTW, carrying a pda or GPSr does not constitute such evidence.

Er, not cooperating is NOT in your best interests, unless you want to be their "guest" for a while. Legally, they CAN hold you without charging you for something like four hours (if I recall correctly, that is...)

 

On the other hand -- kudos for being straight up about saying you were "geocaching." Lord only knows how many locals I've lied to about what I was doing. "Surveying," "checking plants for infestation," "testing radiation levels," on and on...

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Can't wait till I get to do some serious caching there. :rolleyes:

 

Too bad I have no plans yet.

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Er, not cooperating is NOT in your best interests, unless you want to be their "guest" for a while. Legally, they CAN hold you without charging you for something like four hours (if I recall correctly, that is...) ...

There's cooperation, and then there is wasting my time playing twenty questions.

 

Why are you here? Have you been to DC before? When and how many times? When did you get here? Where are you staying? When are you leaving?

 

I would get bored with this line of questioning pretty quick. Let's see, I first came when I was eight. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.

 

Have you been to the National Archives?

 

Doesn't everybody go there? It's on the tour.

 

Can we have your home and office phone numbers?

 

Umm, why? I'm sorry, but I'm married. :rolleyes:

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see now i would think that the day AFTER should be key here....day BEFORE i could understand them being jumpy but after? you can place a b#$b in a trashcan by the road and try to hurt someone BEFORE that person is there but as far as I know these things do not work retroactively?!!?

 

oh and to make this caching related....when i was last in London i noticed that there were VERY few trash cans in major tourist areas to which I would only surmise was to prevent bombs being placed in them (IRA?) but anyways some places (like trafalager square) just had heeps of garbage in each corner talk about a place needing CITO

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oh and someone needs to tell those poor schmucks down in Guantanomo Bay that they are only being held for 4 hours.....

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I could see a PDA being suspisious, especially if it was blackberry enabled with an internet connection. /shrug. You could give all kinds of information to someone over that. That being said though maybe they should start questioning everyone with a moble phone too...

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I once got a job at an airline. In the process, I had to submit to an FBI background check (One of seven or eight that I've had to have for different jobs that I've had). One of the questions that I had to answer for the FBI was whether I had ever been arrested for hijacking an aircraft.

Try this: go to www.dell.com and spec up a PC, then tell them you want to ship it to a non-US address. Right before you get to give your credit card number, the site will ask you whether you intend to use the computer to produce weapons of mass destruction. ("Gee, Osama, what do you think we should put ?")

 

Amazingly, if you click "yes", the purchasing procedure seems to continue normally. I didn't get as far as actually giving my card details and making the purchase, though. I wonder if a little bell goes off in the office of Dell's Vice-President of Reporting WMD Builders to the Feds ?

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KEWL BEANS.... I rather see that the feds are active. Admittedly geocaching activity could seem suspicious. Probably one of the reasons I do not try and be too stealthy.. just draws attention.

 

Proactive law enforcement is OK by me.

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...Proactive law enforcement is OK by me.

I agree. If they think I'm acting suspiciously, they can follow me around all day. Heck, if they want to cache with me, that's fine too. But save the third degree for when you have sufficient reason to believe that I have committed a crime.

 

Its funny to me that a few years ago, a thread like this would have had people up in arms. A few hundred years ago, our forefathers literally got up in arms about this sort of thing.

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The biggest issue I have with this confrontation is that the agents didn't already have a detailed understanding of geocaching. They should be up to speed by now.

 

The rest of the encounter is not a problem in my mind. You're in the capital of the USA, wandering around with a gps, always looking over your shoulder. If they saw you and didn't run you around the corral....I'd be livid.

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But save the third degree for when you have sufficient reason to believe that I have committed a crime.

 

Its funny to me that a few years ago, a thread like this would have had people up in arms. A few hundred years ago, our forefathers literally got up in arms about this sort of thing.

Third degree? This all happened on a street corner. That barely qualifies as first degree. second degree would start with them inviting you to join them in their office. Third degree includes bright lights and a smoky room in the basement.

 

A few years ago, fanatics were not flying planes full of passengers into buildings full of offices.

 

A few hundred years ago people were literally burned at the stake because of a rumor.

 

I'd say it was an appropriate response to an appropriate suspicion.

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Its funny to me that a few years ago, a thread like this would have had people up in arms.  A few hundred years ago, our forefathers literally got up in arms about this sort of thing.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

-Benjamin Franklin

 

 

Funny you should ask. Why yes, I am right wing wacko.

Edited by royta
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CAUTION, BATMAN... HOLY MISTAKEN IDENTITY (or is it)?

 

If they were legitimate FBI Agents, they did the right thing... but you need to be careful. There are a lot of scammers, and I hope you didn't give any personal information to them without verifying their identity FIRST. Ask for their identification BEFORE you show yours. Then, call the FBI office (they will give a phone number to you if it's real) to verify they are legitimate agents. I live near D.C. and go downtown often to see clients, etc. It's a nice place to visit, but it's easy to stick out like a sore thumb or tourist. My point is that you could have been the victim of identity theft and don't even realize it.

 

That said, it sounds like they were on the job. Don't worry about the "we have a problem" statement... they probably did that to see what your reaction would be. I always carry the "What's Geocaching" foldup card in my wallet these days to give out, and this gives me even more reason to do so. The thing is, coordinates are freely available to every federal building out there (just look it up on Yahoo or Microsoft Maps). This is another example of the TSA, FBI, etc on display... it is PURE WINDOW dressing and signifies little... except a presence, and maybe that's enough to discourage a bad act.

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No I don't play the game with them either. I have had my run-ins with LE types and I usually just end up being a smarta**. I will take whatever they dish out. If it means they are going to hold me for something so be it. It is fun to watch them appologize afterwards.

 

The best was the time a local cop start questioning me about something that I was not even close to being involved in. I asked very nicely if I was under arrest. Typical response back from him was, "Do you want to be?" Yea, I can see this has fun written all over it. My response, "No, but I would actually like to go and have sex with your wife". That got me slammed up against the car pretty quick and hard. But not as hard as when I was bright enough to add, "Again!". I got to watch his supervisor chew him out and then have to come over and tell me how sorry he was and that the Sarge over there was willing to take a report if I wished to file charges. How could I fill out a report while I was laughing so hard?

 

Regardless of what has happened our rights are still our rights. Don't give them up. And don't think that because times are different then it is OK. They are not yours to give up anyway. A lot of people fought and died for those rights, how dare you think it is OK to just give them away as if they meant nothing.

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If they were legitimate FBI Agents, they did the right thing...

No they were jerks, it is amazing how many peolple want to give up there civil liberties because the Governament say it is for your own good. That is Bull!

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If the OP was in the park next to the Canadian Embassy, he probably did not realize that he was also standing about 100 feet from the Federal Courthouse. The park is between the two buildings and is under constant surveillance by the US Marshals Service. He would also be very close (across the streets from) the DC Superior Court, DC Police Headquarters and the National Gallery of Art

 

Still if the FBI is trying to stop everyone with a PDA near federal buildings, they are going to need a lot more people. PDA devices are like cell phones in this town.

 

If you want to meet members of the Secret Service, I recommend visiting the DC Disenfranchised Colony cache. The cache is near several embassies.

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They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

-Benjamin Franklin

I have to agree with you and Ben here. In fact, I've used that quote before.

Funny how a Drivers License has become a National Identification Card.

 

Always make sure to ask whoever questions you to see their identification.

Always avoid political events when geocaching. That virtual can wait.

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PDAs are suspicious, too? Wierd.

 

Some months ago I was waiting in our small local airport for my wife to arrive. The only sitting area was just outside the security area, so I sat down, pulled out my Palm Tungsten C, attached the portable keyboard, and started working on a file I had brought with me. I gave up my seat to a lady on crutches, put away the keyboard, but continued to work with the stylus. The next thing I knew, I was surrounded by airport security and was being quizzed as to why I was there, what flight was I waiting for, etc., etc. It was intimidating.

 

Mind you, I had come from work and was dress professionally in a suit, not that it should matter.

 

Good thing I didn't have a GPS with me!

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oh and someone needs to tell those poor schmucks down in Guantanomo Bay that they are only being held for 4 hours.....

The reason why they are there is because US Constitutional Rights are not applicable on foreign soil. I suggest we keep the politics out of this.

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Good God Almighty!!!! They had the nerve to ask you questions??!!!! How vicious!!!! How cruel!!!! How unconstitutional!!!! O'Brother!!! :rolleyes:

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Twenty minutes of interrogation is a bit too much. If they ask two questions and look at my ID, that's OK. But don't detain me for 20 minutes asking a lot of stupid questions. What if I have a plane to catch or something? It's crazy.

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Did I miss the part of the story where the FBI Agents said he was not free to go?

Edited by 5
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Did I miss the part of the story where the FBI Agents said he was not free to go?

Thats not the point, the point is the suspension of civil liberties in the so called interest of security. Todays rulling in supreme court is just another example.

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My one observation....questioning a person in DC (of all places) if they have a PDA.... Now just how many people in DC do you think have PDAs? Why, I would say just about everyone. So why that particular stupid question. How would the answer differentiate the OP from any other person walking around? I just don't get it.

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Its funny to me that a few years ago, a thread like this would have had people up in arms.  A few hundred years ago, our forefathers literally got up in arms about this sort of thing.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

-Benjamin Franklin

 

.

 

THANK YOU !!

 

Regardless of what has happened our rights are still our rights. Don't give them up. And don't think that because times are different then it is OK. They are not yours to give up anyway. A lot of people fought and died for those rights, how dare you think it is OK to just give them away as if they meant nothing.

 

got that right !

 

well said -

 

so if we are walking around DC with a city map in our PDA or our GPS trying NOT to get lost in a city we have never been in - trying to see all we can in a short amount of time { can you say tourist? } we are now subject to being detained by the FB!?! Talk about giving up our rights!

Edited by CompuCash
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I know our government is trying to stop attacks but DUH! Any good pre 9/21 map will have all the info someone needs to cause trouble. If you want lat/long info, the information is still out there.

 

Personally, I find having to submit to questioning like that ridiculous. While some think that makes us safer, I think it is just a waste of time to question people in such a manner.

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You probably should not have started the exchange by asking, 'Which way to Mecca?'  :blink:

 

dadgum that was funny... :rolleyes:

 

It's to bad you never think of them things on the spot.

At least I never do...

 

Edited to add: I could have swore I did not type "dadgum" but something else.

Makes me feel like I'm being watched....... <_<

Edited by Milbank
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you forgot to say:

 

i'm GEOCACHING, fascist pigs! now get out of my way because i'm doing something important. i'm playing GAMES here and i have no time for your stupid police state and if you'll excuse me please i do not care to have my civil rights abrogated.

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Sometimes the climate makes it hard to cache. Don't know as anything can be done about this.

Edited by Cool Librarian
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Last week, my caching partner and I were at a small, local airport on a geocaching-related mission. We literally drove in, took a picture of the sign, and drove out. This is a tiny airstrip that does not run commercial flights, just little private planes and helicopter tours. Tonight he tells me he had a call from airport security asking him what he was doing, and today the FBI left him a message to get back to them ASAP.

 

 

Hmmm... were you logging my AV8R locationless cache? :lol:

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03-04-30.jpg

 

I'm not admitting to where this was taken. If you recognize the location then chances are it's only because you've been there.

 

I will say this, when I signed in I was asked what the thing in my hand was. I said it was a GPS. The response came back "What's a GPS?"

 

:lol:

 

Bret

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