Criminal Justice

FBI Discusses Patriot Powers

A meeting with the FBI director yesterday did little to sway privacy advocates from their resolve to curb agents’ power to obtain certain records without a court order.

FBI Director Robert Mueller spent two hours with critics to discuss new guidelines governing National Security Letters, used by his agency to obtain phone, e-mail and financial information without a court order.

Mueller reportedly said agents would get better training in use of the letters and that he would establish a compliance system to make sure they are used properly, according to National Public Radio.

After the meeting, Caroline Fredrickson of the American Civil Liberties Union said she thought Mueller was making a good-faith effort to open a dialogue. But that’s not enough, she said. In her view, the Patriot Act gave the FBI too much power to fish for information without court intervention.

“The fundamental issue is the FBI has been given a power it can’t control,” she told NPR. “It is not policing itself, and it can’t be expected to police itself.”

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