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FBI snooping into more citizen’s lives with national security letters

By DOUG THOMPSON
May 16, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation last year expanded its intrusion into the personal lives of Americans, targeting more than 14,000 with rights-robbing “national security letters” to pry into phone records, financial information and other private data.

The agency’s use of these letters, which can be issued without court order or any review, more than doubled in 2010.

According to information provided to Congress, the FBI in 2010 issued 24,287 national security letter requests to invade the privacy of 14,212 American citizens. The year before, the agency issued 14,788 requests for letters to target 6,114 citizens.

In 2007, the FBI inspector general’s office found “widespread violations” in use of the letters. The IG report cited demands without authorization and use of the letters in “non-emergency” situations.

While the FBI claims it has tightened oversight on the system, that oversight is internal with no external review.

National security letters require no court scrutiny. FBI officials can issue them without any review by a judge.

Even with claims of tighter scrutiny by the FBI, the practice continues to increase.  The agency targeted 7,225 American citizens in 2008.

The increase comes after a sharp dropoff in the letters from the frenzy that came after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. From 2003 to 2005, the FBI said it issued 143,074 national security letters and then admitted that an additional 8,850 requests were “not recorded” in the agency’s database.

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3 Responses to FBI snooping into more citizen’s lives with national security letters

  1. Tom Metzger

    May 16, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    The Famous But Incompetent are at it again

  2. woody188

    May 16, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Evidence collected in this manner would not be admissible in court due to the 4th Amendment. These NSL’s are essentially “fishing trips” and are a waste of time and taxpayer money.

  3. Lillibet

    May 18, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Evidence would be admissible, because the circular argument of “inevitable discovery” applies. So, when they get what they want, it would have been found eventually, and most likely in plain sight because the recipient probably isn’t the target, so the 4th and 6th Amendments don’t apply. If that doesn’t work, there are loopholes in the misnamed Patriot Act that would allow the evidence. It kind of makes you wish Congress read the stuff it passes.