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FBI broke law in phone searches - Washington Post
Tue, Jan 19, 2010
Reuters

WASHINGTON, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The FBI collected more than 2,000 records on U.S. telephone calls by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist or by persuading phone companies to provide them, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

FBI officials issued approvals afterward to justify their actions in collecting the phone records between 2002 and 2006, the newspaper said.

"This practice ceased in 2006 and never involved obtaining the content of telephone conversations. Additionally, steps have been taken to ensure similar situations do not occur in the future," FBI spokesman Michael Kortan told Reuters.

FBI officials issued approvals afterward to justify their actions in collecting the phone records between 2002 and 2006, the newspaper said.

The Post said it had obtained emails that showed how counterterrorism officials did not follow procedures aimed at protecting civil liberties.

FBI officials confirmed a Justice Department inspector general's report due this month is expected to conclude the FBI frequently violated the law with its emergency requests, the newspaper said.

FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni, in an interview with the Post, said the FBI technically violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

"We should have stopped those requests from being made that way," she told the Post.

Caproni said FBI Director Robert Mueller did not know about the problems until the inspector general's investigation, which began in mid-2006.

"No FBI employee used informal methods to obtain telephone records for reasons other than a legitimate investigative interest," Kortan told Reuters.

 
 
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