Report Shows FBI Violated Internal Surveillance Guidelines: ACLU Says Disclosure Highlights Need for Patriot Act Reforms

October 24, 2005 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today expressed strong concerns about the disclosure that the Department of Justice violated its own internal guidelines when it conducted secret intelligence surveillance on people in the United States, and said that the revelation was only further proof that Patriot Act reforms are needed. Congress is currently considering renewing or expanding several provisions of that law.

The records were released as the result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center as reported in today’s Washington Post. According to the Washington Post, the FBI is reviewing hundreds of possible abuses or violations of its secret surveillance powers – some of which were expanded by the Patriot Act. The recent release adds to the growing body of evidence obtained through ACLU FOIA requests that reveal the FBI is engaging in inappropriate surveillance, including surveillance of political, environmental, antiwar and faith-based groups.

The following can be attributed to Lisa Graves, ACLU Senior Counsel for Legislative Strategy.

“The documents show that there are at least 287 possible violations, though the actual number is probably higher. As reported, these include a violation of bank privacy rules, an improper physical search, a collection of e-mails after the authorizing warrant had expired, and a failure of FBI agents to promptly notify Justice Department officials of ongoing surveillance – all violations of internal guidelines regarding the use of secret search and surveillance powers.

“No one should be above the law, not even our nation’s law enforcement. These disclosures only show the further need to bring the Patriot Act and other broad powers back in line with the Constitution by restoring proper checks and balances, including meaningful judicial oversight, on government power. Congress should take these concerns to heart as it considers the reauthorization of the Patriot Act.”

For more on the ACLU’s concerns with the Patriot Act, go to:

For more on FBI surveillance of political, environmental, antiwar and faith-based groups, go to:

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