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Monday, October 24, 2005

FBI documents show unlawful surveillance of US residents
Lisl Brunner at 10:44 AM ET

[JURIST] The FBI has conducted secret surveillance of US citizens and legal residents for up to 18 months without notifying the Justice Department, according to documents [PDF] released Monday by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) [official website]. EPIC made a request [PDF text] under Freedom of Information Act [text] for documents relating to the FBI's use of Patriot Act [text] provisions, and has obtained documents that describe thirteen cases of alleged FBI misconduct during intelligence activities between 2002 and 2004. The documents reveal hundreds of FBI investigations into potential violations in secret surveillance operations, which have increased since September 11, 2001. Most of these cases involve powers derived from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [text], which provides regulations for judicial oversight of surveillance and physical searches of suspected international terrorists or persons engaged in espionage. Congress is currently considering [JURIST report] whether to put new restrictions on the Patriot Act and, in a letter [text] Monday to the US Senate Judiciary Committee, EPIC asked for greater congressional oversight of the FBI's surveillance activities. The FBI contends that most of the cases involve administrative errors rather than major violations of Department of Justice guidelines and have not affected the civil rights of those surveyed. The Washington Post has more. EPIC provides additional documents obtained from its Patriot Act FOIA litigation.

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