01.20.10

Comment On The Inspector General’s Report On FBI Abuses Of Exigent Letters

“The Inspector General’s report released today details the misuse of so-called ‘exigent letters’ by the FBI to obtain information about U.S. persons. The report describes how the FBI used these exigent letters without proper authorization to collect thousands of phone records, including in instances where no exigent conditions existed.  The report also details how the FBI then compounded the misconduct by trying to issue National Security Letters after the fact.  This was not a matter of technical violations.  This was authorized at high levels within the FBI, and continued for years.  I understand that the FBI has worked to correct these abuses, but this report is a sobering reminder of the significant abuse of this broad authority.  When Americans break the law, there are consequences.  No one in the FBI should be above the law.

“I have said for years that we must have oversight and accountability when we give the government such expansive powers.  That is why I insisted on including a sunset for National Security Letters in the USA Patriot Act Sunset Extension Act.  The Senate should pass that legislation without delay, to ensure that we have the opportunity to revisit the scope and authority of National Security Letters.”

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The Inspector General’s report on “A Review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Use of Exigent Letters and Other Informal Requests for Telephone Records” is available online here:  http://www.justice.gov/oig/special/s1001r.pdf.

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