Lawless FBI Intelligence Gathering Practices
by Stephen Lendman
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A new Electronic
Frontier Foundation (EFF) report titled, "Patterns of Misconduct:
FBI Intelligence Violations from 20012008" based its
findings on nearly 2,500 FOIA-obtained document pages, revealing
"alarming (lawless) trends...."
far more frequent civil liberty violations than previously known,
(2) long delays
between violations and reporting them;
(3) types of
violations involved, including:
misuse, or careless use of....National Security Letter (NSL) authority;"
FBI, CIA and other government agencies use them (administrative
subpoenas), demanding recipients turn over requested information
and remain silent; no probable cause or judicial oversight is necessary;
constitutional, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and other
legal principles; and
of ISPs, phone companies, financial institutions and credit agencies,
supplying unauthorized personal information without their customers'
knowledge or consent.
ones, including false declarations to courts, supplying bogus evidence
to get indictments, and accessing protected documents without warrants.
less than 800 violations were reported. In 2007, a Department of
Justice Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit of only 10% of national
security investigations found around 3,000, most never reported.
A 2008 OIG audit discovered massive underreporting. EFF's analysis
confirmed "as many as 40,000 violations" from 9/11 through
In 1976, Gerald
Ford established the Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB) "with
specific oversight responsibilities for the legality and propriety
of US intelligence activities." Since created, its work has
been mostly secret. After 9/11, it failed to report a single instance
of intelligence misconduct, and in 2008, Bush removed its ability
to refer violations to the Attorney General for criminal investigation
or oversee intelligence operations, effectively making it impotent.
Obama changed little, continuing lawless Bush practices.
were established to protect citizen constitutional rights from intrusive,
overreaching intelligence investigations. Yet EFF found significant
noncompliance, including the FBI violating its own internal oversight
national security protocols, proving it repeatedly acts lawlessly.
Ineffective oversight lets them get away with it.
Its NSL power
abuses got much attention. Less covered, however, was "the
unwillingness of companies and organizations to guard their clients'
and users' sensitive, personal information" after receiving
NSL requests, whether legally justified or not. If the Bureau acted
lawfully, most would have been denied.
of federal law governing criminal investigations and intelligence
gathering activities were especially unique, flagrant, brazen and
egregious, including willfully making false written statements to
courts, supplying bogus information to get indictments of innocent
people. Because of Bureau secrecy and coverup, it's impossible to
know the full extent of its lawlessness, how many people were harmed,
and for what reasons.
Yet from what's
known, "the frequency and type of violations revealed....are
staggering." Minimally, greater accountability and oversight
are needed. While many hoped Obama would end Bush administration
practices, they've continued unabated so far. Moreover, Congress
refuses to act. As a result, FBI lawlessness persists, breaching
with permission from OpEd
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