Saturday

Absolutely corrupting power

"The FBI's director, Robert Mueller, admitted the bureau had abused the enhanced powers vested in it through the U.S. Patriot Act.


FBI Cheating on NSL's

According to a recent report, by investigators in the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) “the FBI used NSLs (NATIONAL SECURITY LETTERS) in violation of applicable NSL statutes, Attorney General guidelines, and internal FBI policies.” A large number of the infractions, according to the OIG, violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA): “In addition, we found that the FBI circumvented the requirements of the ECPA NSL statute when it issued at least 739 ‘exigent letters’ to obtain telephone toll billing records and subscriber information from three telephone companies without first issuing NSLs.” Exigent letters are produced when FBI agents feel they need immediate information, and the OIG found that these claims were exaggerated in many of these cases.

“Moreover,” the report continues, “in a few other instances, the FBI sought or obtained information to which it was not entitled under the NSL authorities.” These “instances” appear to be clear and quite extreme violations of NSL statutes: using an ECPA NSL to secure educational records; obtaining telephone records that were not part of a national-security investigation; and obtaining credit reports as part of a counterintelligence investigation.

This is why we shouldn't ever surrender powers like this to the government.

2 comments:

David said...

I found this quote from the Washington Post's editorial on the subject via Glenn Greenwald's blog at Salon. The numbers and extent of the misuse are truly stunning:

"Although the FBI itself reported to a review board a mere 26 instances in which information was improperly obtained, the real number appears to be much higher. Of just 77 files reviewed by the inspector general, 17 -- 22 percent -- revealed one or more instances in which information may have been obtained in violation of the law.

Indeed, the FBI's procedures were so slipshod, the report concludes, that it didn't even keep proper count of how many such letters were issued. The use of these letters ballooned from 8,500 in 2000 to 47,000 in 2005 -- but that "significantly understated" the real numbers, the report found."

We'll continue to hear this story spun as being simply a few violations and isolated incidents, but the numbers show otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I found this quote from the Washington Post's editorial on the subject via Glenn Greenwald's blog at Salon. The numbers and extent of the misuse are truly stunning:

"Although the FBI itself reported to a review board a mere 26 instances in which information was improperly obtained, the real number appears to be much higher. Of just 77 files reviewed by the inspector general, 17 -- 22 percent -- revealed one or more instances in which information may have been obtained in violation of the law.

Indeed, the FBI's procedures were so slipshod, the report concludes, that it didn't even keep proper count of how many such letters were issued. The use of these letters ballooned from 8,500 in 2000 to 47,000 in 2005 -- but that "significantly understated" the real numbers, the report found."

We'll continue to hear this story spun as being simply a few violations and isolated incidents, but the numbers show otherwise.