Constitutional Law

DOJ Says FBI Ignored Court in National Security Cases

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Despite a secret court’s constitutional objections under the First Amendment, the FBI went ahead and collected private electronic data such as e-mail and telephone records in two national security probes in 2006, an inspector general at the U.S. Department of Justice said in a report today.

Lacking the court’s permission, the FBI conducted the probes under the purported authorization of National Security Letters. However, the inspector general cast doubt on the validity of that alternative, according to Reuters.

The report says the FBI has since improved its procedures, and the intelligence agency says it will strive not to repeat these errors.

Nonetheless, critics including the American Civil Liberties Union contend that more needs to be done to end such abuses.

Today’s report “outlines more abuses and what appears to be the improper use of National Security Letters for years in a systemic failure throughout the FBI,” says Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Legislative action may be necessary to correct these abuses.”

A page one Wall Street Journal article earlier this week discusses in detail the nation’s domestic spying program.

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