Thursday, Jun 14, 2007, 12:58 am
FBI Crime Spree: Over 1000 Violations of Law Not “Knowingly or Willingly”
John Solomon for Wapo reports:
An internal FBI audit has found that the bureau potentially violated the law or agency rules more than 1,000 times while collecting data about domestic phone calls, e-mails and financial transactions in recent years, far more than was documented in a Justice Department report in March that ignited bipartisan congressional criticism.
The new audit covers just 10 percent of the bureau's national security investigations since 2002, and so the mistakes in the FBI's domestic surveillance efforts probably number several thousand, bureau officials said in interviews. The earlier report found 22 violations in a much smaller sampling.
The vast majority of the new violations were instances in which telephone companies and Internet providers gave agents phone and e-mail records the agents did not request and were not authorized to collect. The agents retained the information anyway in their files, which mostly concerned suspected terrorist or espionage activities.
But two dozen of the newly-discovered violations involved agents' requests for information that U.S. law did not allow them to have, according to the audit results provided to The Washington Post.
Of the more than 1,000 violations uncovered by the new audit, about 700 involved telephone companies and other communications firms providing information that exceeded what the FBI's national security letters had sought. But rather than destroying the unsolicited data, agents in some instances issued new National Security Letters to ensure that they could keep the mistakenly provided information.
FBI officials said the audit found no evidence to date that any agent knowingly or willingly violated the laws or that supervisors encouraged such violations.