Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied to Congress two years ago when he claimed he there were no documented FBI abuses under the controversial USA Patriot Act.
Gonzales told Congress in April 2005 that “there has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse” under the rights-robbing act that was passed by a shell-shocked Congress after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In fact, reports The Washington Post, Gonzales received at least a half-dozen reports detailing violations three months before he lied to Congress. The Post, using the Freedom of Information Act, obtained internal FBI documents detailing the violations and reports to Gonzales.
The violations, the Post reported, included unauthorized surveillance and an illegal property search.
Justice department officials backpeddled Monday, saying they did not know whether Gonzales had read the reports.
Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said, “The statements from the attorney general are consistent with statements from other officials at the FBI and the department.” He told the Post that many of the violations were not illegal but merely involved procedural safeguards or even typographical errors.
Writes John Solomon in The Post:
As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. “There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse,” Gonzales told senators on April 27, 2005.
Six days earlier, the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The acts recounted in the FBI reports included unauthorized surveillance, an illegal property search and a case in which an Internet firm improperly turned over a compact disc with data that the FBI was not entitled to collect, the documents show. Gonzales was copied on each report that said administrative rules or laws protecting civil liberties and privacy had been violated.
The reports also alerted Gonzales in 2005 to problems with the FBI’s use of an anti-terrorism tool known as a national security letter (NSL), well before the Justice Department’s inspector general brought widespread abuse of the letters in 2004 and 2005 to light in a stinging report this past March.