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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

DOJ IG slams FBI for national security letter abuses at House hearing
Brett Murphy at 1:58 PM ET

[JURIST] US Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine [official profile] told [prepared testimony, PDF] the House Judiciary Committee [official website] at a hearing [materials and witness testimony] on Tuesday that the confusion and abuses surrounding the use of National Security Letters (NSL) [CRS backgrounder, PDF] was "unacceptable and inexcusable." The Federal Bureau of Investigation [official website] illegally gathered data [JURIST report] from telephone and financial records of both US citizens and foreigners while searching for terrorists, according to a 130-page report [text, PDF] issued by Fine earlier this month. While the report did not reveal intentional abuses, Fine told the Committee that the FBI's incompetence resulted in "serious and unacceptable" action.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said [press briefing transcript] after the release of Fine's report that FBI agents had improperly used so-called "exigent letters," and that the FBI had suspended their use in May 2006 and would only use them in the future "when the circumstances comport with the Patriot Act." Mueller also admitted that the FBI violated privacy protections through inaccurate record keeping, and also failed to detect potential Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB) violations and submit them to IOB review. AP has more.

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