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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Gonzales aware of FBI privacy violations before Patriot Act testimony: WP report
Michael Sung at 11:31 AM ET

[JURIST] US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile; JURIST news archive] received reports that the FBI had improperly used national security letters (NSL) [CRS backgrounder, PDF; FBI backgrounder] prior to testifying before Congress in 2005 that "there has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse," the Washington Post reported Tuesday. According to documents [press release and list] made available by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Gonzales received at least six internal FBI reports detailing legal or procedural violations before his April 27, 2005 testimony during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing [committee materials; transcript], which occurred as Congress was debating whether to renew the USA Patriot Act [JURIST news archive]. Department of Justice spokesperson Brian Roehrkasse defended Gonzales' testimony, telling the Post that the statements referred only to the lack of verified cases by the DOJ Office of Inspector General (OIG) [official website] and did not include other documents.

In March, the OIG released a report [PDF text] finding privacy violations at the FBI [JURIST report]. The review, which was conducted under the terms of the 2005 Patriot Act renewal legislation, found that the "FBI used NSLs in violation of applicable NSL standards, Attorney General Guidelines, and internal FBI policies." In June, a federal district court ordered [PDF text; JURIST report] ordered the FBI to release approximately 100,000 pages of documents detailing the FBI's use of NSLs pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act [DOJ backgrounder] request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation [advocacy website]. Reuters has more.

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