Tag: National Security Letters

Inspector General Report Released on National Security Letter Use and Abuse

The Inspector General's report on the FBI's use and abuse of National Security Letters has been released. It's called "A Review of the FBI’s Use of National Security Letters: Assessment of Corrective Actions and Examination of NSL Usage in 2006, March 2008" and is available here (pdf).

Also out today, "A Review of the FBI’s Use of Section 215 Orders for Business Records in 2006, March 2008" available here (pdf.)

The ACLU's reaction to the report is here. [More...]

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FBI Confirms More Privacy Abuses in National Security Letters

The AP reports:

The FBI acknowledged Wednesday it improperly accessed Americans' telephone records, credit reports and Internet traffic in 2006, the fourth straight year of privacy abuses resulting from investigations aimed at tracking terrorists and spies.

....[The breach was] caused, in part, by banks, telecommunication companies and other private businesses giving the FBI more personal client data than was requested.

Details will be forthcoming in a report by the Justice Department Inspector General. [More...]

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ACLU Obtains Documents Showing Expanded Military Role in National Security Letters

The ACLU has obtained a new set of documents showing the military's expanded role since the passage of the Patriot Act in obtaining national security letters.

New documents uncovered as a result of an American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties Union lawsuit reveal that the Department of Defense secretly issued hundreds of national security letters (NSLs) to obtain private and sensitive records of people within the United States without court approval. A comprehensive analysis of 455 NSLs issued after 9/11 shows that the Defense Department seems to have collaborated with the FBI to circumvent the law, may have overstepped its legal authority to obtain financial and credit records, provided misleading information to Congress, and silenced NSL recipients from speaking out about the records requests, according to the ACLU.

The new documents are available here. Many are blacked out (redacted.) The documents include e-mail correspondence between DOD officials responding to the disclosure of the NSL's in the New York Times. I've extracted one e-mail here (pdf).

Also extracted:

  • DOD memo (pdf)on its authority to issue NSL letters apart from the FBI
  • DOD Guidance (pdf)on obtaining information from financial institutions


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Report: Record Number of Secret Searches in 2005

According to a new disclosure report (mandated by the Patriot Act), there were a record number of secret FISA warrants in 2005.

A secret court approved all but one of the government's requests last year to search or eavesdrop on suspected terrorists and spies, according to Justice Department data released Tuesday.

In all, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court signed off on 2,176 warrants targeting people in the United States believed to be linked to international terror organizations or spies. The record number is more than twice as many as were issued in 2000, the last full year before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

And here's the rub:


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A First Hand Account of Receiving a National Security Letter

The Washington Post today publishes the first-hand account of a recipient of an FBI national security letter. His name isn't included because he's gagged from discussing it, so the Post verified it with his lawyer and publicly available documents (which I assume are the pleadings in his lawsuit brought by the ACLU which is ongoing.)

The author, who ran "a small internet access and consulting business," never gave up the documents on his client demanded in the letter and eventually the FBI said it no longer needed them. But he's still challenging the gag order that prevents him from discussing the matter.

He describes what his life was like living under a gag order.


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