] ] 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.
] What was the money line in all the recent Vegas advertising?
] "What happens here, stays here." Well, not this New Years..
] ] 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."
] I would really like to know what the hotel was that required
] the subpoena.
I'd like to know too.
(gears up for a big vent)
But I also think that there's probably much more to this story than is in print. For example, suppose the FBI has a list of 1,000 possible suspects. Yes, they could go to each hotel and say, "Here's a list of 1,000 names, can you please run through the names of everyone in your guest list, and let us know if any of the names appear there?" That kind of request would put a sizable administrative burden on the hotel, which would be multiplied by the number of hotels that would each have to run their own search. It would also tip the FBI's hand as to just who it was that they were keeping an eye on!
Much easier is for the FBI to say, "Hi, we're worried that someone's trying to blow up your city this week. Can you please give us a list of names of who's at your hotel, so we can check it against our criminal database?" It's pro-active in a time of crisis, it doesn't put the burden on the hotel to do law enforcement's job, and it doesn't plaster long lists of confidential suspect names in every hotel backroom.
If I were a hotel manager, I wouldn't have any trouble providing the list, though I would ask for a "friendly" subpoena (subpoenas aren't always "slapped"), to verify that the request was coming from a bonafide law enforcement agency, and, yes, to address privacy concerns.
As a related subject, the concept of hotels keeping track of who's staying at their establishment, and working with law enforcement to track down criminals, is nothing new. I'd love to see some statistics that show how often that major hotels work with law enforcement -- my guess is that for the big hotels, it's probably a daily basis, which would also affect (in my opinion) the ease with which they'd hand over a patron list. If it's *not* something that's routinely asked for, the fact their FBI contacts were asking for it would probably have a great deal of weight.
I know this is putting me way out on the conservative side of our community here, but I feel strongly about this.
Okay, done venting,
The debate about the FBI obtaining Las Vegas Jan 1 room lists with no court auth.