SHOCKER: Patriot Act Misused! Constitution Abused! Private Lives Of 143,074 In The Homeland Spied Upon!


WASHINGTON, March 9 — The F.B.I. has improperly used provisions of the USA Patriot Act to obtain thousands of telephone, business and financial records without prior judicial approval, the Justice Department’s inspector general said today in a report that embarrassed the F.B.I. and ignited outrage on Capitol Hill.The report found that the bureau lacked sufficient controls to make sure that its agents were acting properly when they obtained records using administrative subpoenas [AKA, National Security Letters, or NSLs], which do not require a judge’s prior approval. And the report found that the bureau does not follow some of the rules it does have on the matter. Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, called a news conference today to accept responsibility for the lapses, and to pledge his best efforts to see that they are not repeated. “How could this happen,” Mr. Mueller asked rhetorically. “Who is to be held accountable? And the answer to that is, I am to be held accountable.” [MORE]

ONE SENTENCE EDITORIAL: The fish always rots from the head down.


In 1986 Congress first authorized the FBI to obtain electronic records without approval from a judge. Such demands for information, known as national security letters, can be used to acquire e-mails, telephone, travel records and financial information, including credit and bank transactions. They can be sent to telephone and Internet access companies, universities, public interest organizations, nearly all libraries, financial and credit companies. Originally, the FBI could only get records of people suspected of being agents of a foreign power. In 1993, the authority was expanded to cover records of anyone suspected of communicating with foreign agents about terrorism or espionage. The Patriot Act in 2001 eliminated any requirement that the records belong to someone under suspicion. Now an innocent person’s records can be obtained if FBI field agents consider them merely relevant to a terrorism or spyingnslrequests.jpg investigation.

The estimated number of national security letters requested by the FBI, 2000-2005. Each letter may contain one or more requests for information.

2000: About 8,500

2003: 39,346

2004: 56,507

2005: 47,221
Total 2003-2005: 143,074

NEW YORK TIMES: Who Could Have Possibly Seen This Coming?
ASSOCIATED PRESS: The Surveillance State For Dummies
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: Download Full Reports Here
PREVIOUSLY: The Lives Of Others
SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY, CHAIRMAN OF JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: “National Security Letters are a powerful tool, and when they are misused they can do great harm to innocent people. The government expects Americans to follow the law, but the American people also have a right to expect that the government follows the law. These improper and illegal violations might all be continuing if it were not for the sunshine provisions about the use of NSLs that we insisted on adding to the PATRIOT Act. I intend for the Senate Judiciary Committee to conduct extensive hearings on these findings, their significance and possible remedies in our ongoing oversight efforts, including at a hearing with the FBI Director later this month.”

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