FBI Criticized for Patriot Act Use
By LARA JAKES JORDAN
WASHINGTON (AP) - A blistering Justice Department report accuses the FBI of underreporting its use of the Patriot Act to force businesses to turn over customer information in terrorism cases, according to officials familiar with its findings.
The report, to be released Friday, also says the FBI failed to send follow-up subpoenas to telecommunications firms that were told to expect them, according to several government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report by the Justice Department's inspector general had not yet been released.
Overall, the FBI underreported the number of national security letters it issued by about 20 percent between 2003 and 2005, the officials said. In 2005 alone, the FBI delivered a total of 9,254 letters relating to 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents.
It was unclear late Thursday whether the omissions could be considered a criminal offense. One government official familiar with the report said that it concluded that the problems appeared to be unintentional and that FBI agents would probably face administrative sanctions instead of an indictment.
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Frequent Errors In FBI's Secret Records Requests
By John Solomon and Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 9, 2007; A01
A Justice Department investigation has found pervasive errors in the FBI's use of its power to secretly demand telephone, e-mail and financial records in national security cases, officials with access to the report said yesterday.
The inspector general's audit found 22 possible breaches of internal FBI and Justice Department regulations -- some of which were potential violations of law -- in a sampling of 293 "national security letters." The letters were used by the FBI to obtain the personal records of U.S. residents or visitors between 2003 and 2005. The FBI identified 26 potential violations in other cases.
Officials said they could not be sure of the scope of the violations but suggested they could be more widespread, though not deliberate. In nearly a quarter of the case files Inspector General Glenn A. Fine reviewed, he found previously unreported potential violations.
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Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense attorney in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com
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