FBI Broke Law In Domestic Spying, DOJ Finds

The FBI broke the law in obtaining information about private citizens after 9/11, a Department of Justice audit concluded today. From the AP:

The audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found that FBI agents sometimes demanded personal data on individuals without proper authorization. The 126-page audit also found the FBI improperly obtained telephone records in non-emergency circumstances.

The audit blames agent error and shoddy record-keeping for the bulk of the problems and did not find any indication of criminal misconduct.

Still, “we believe the improper or illegal uses we found involve serious misuses of national security letter authorities,” the audit concludes.

At issue are the security letters, a power outlined in the Patriot Act that the Bush administration pushed through Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The letters, or administrative subpoenas, are used in suspected terrorism and espionage cases. They allow the FBI to require telephone companies, Internet service providers, banks, credit bureaus and other businesses to produce highly personal records about their customers or subscribers – without a judge’s approval.”

We’re often worried about criminals improperly accessing our personal information, but what do you when it’s the Federal government? Hit the Boing Boing link for a download of the official 199-page report. — BEN POPKEN

DoJ: FBI misused Patriot act in domestic spying activities [Boing Boing]