Friday, March 09, 2007

FBI Don't Tell All

Originally posted: March 9, 2007
FBI abused Patriot Act
Posted by Mark Silva at 6:55 am CST

The FBI has taken unchecked advantage of the "National Security Letters'' that enable it to obtain telephone calls, emails and banking records without warrants, according to an inspector general's report to be released today that reportedly will depict far-reaching abuses of the USA Patriot Act.

FBI agents have underreported their uses of this tool they were given after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, according to the report expected to be made public before noon. As it is, the FBI had reported to Congress that in 2005 it issued a total of 9,254 national security letters involving 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents. But shoddy record-keeping resulted in the FBI underreporting its use of these letters by 20 percent, the report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine is said to conclude.

Some members of Congress were briefed on the report last night. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) issued this statement: “In late 2005, I requested that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the use of National Security Letters and other powers granted under the USA Patriot Act. The Justice Department’s own investigation, which is now concluded, confirms the American people’s worst fears about the Patriot Act. It appears that the Administration has used these powers without even the most basic regard for the privacy of innocent Americans.

The FBI's Secret Scrutiny
In Hunt for Terrorists, Bureau Examines Records of Ordinary Americans
By Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 6, 2005; Page A01

The FBI came calling in Windsor, Conn., this summer with a document marked for delivery by hand. On Matianuk Avenue, across from the tennis courts, two special agents found their man. They gave George Christian the letter, which warned him to tell no one, ever, what it said.

Under the shield and stars of the FBI crest, the letter directed Christian to surrender "all subscriber information, billing information and access logs of any person" who used a specific computer at a library branch some distance away. Christian, who manages digital records for three dozen Connecticut libraries, said in an affidavit that he configures his system for privacy. But the vendors of the software he operates said their databases can reveal the Web sites that visitors browse, the e-mail accounts they open and the books they borrow...

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