FBI records that were recently released under the Freedom of Information Act in a lawsuit filed by David Sobel of the Electronic Privacy Information
Center have revealed hundreds of possible violations regarding clandestine surveillance of citizens by the Bureau. FBI officials insist that the
matters in question are merely administrative lapses. Mr. Sobel insists that there are too few mechanisms in place to prevent abuses by law
enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Previously classified documents released on Monday show that the FBI has conducted clandestine surveillance on US citizens and legal residents for as
long as 18 months at a time without proper paperwork or oversight.
Some of the violations found in the documents included — Improper searches and seizures of bank records. — Violation of bank privacy statutes. —
Improper collection of e-mails after warrants had expired.
FBI officials, however, say that most of the violations were simply administrative errors.
A private US citizen, David Sobel of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, sued FBI to acquire records of its clandestine surveillance
In a letter sent on Monday to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr Sobel and other EPIC officials argue that the documents show how little Congress and
the public know about the use of clandestine surveillance by the FBI and other agencies. The group advocates legislation requiring the attorney
general to report violations to the Senate.
The documents, the letter says, “suggest that there may be at least thirteen instances of unlawful intelligence investigations that were never
disclosed to Congress.”
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Not since the days of the Nixon Administration has there been so much concern about the powers of the FBI. Certainly, we all benefit from a robust
federal law enforcement agency, but at the same time, we should all be concerned about our Constitutional rights. The Patriot Act grants powers that
under ordinary circumstances would be intolerable, but that given the vulnerability of our nation at this time, aren't particularly onerous for the
ordinary citizen going about his daily affairs. Clearly, no one, especially the FBI, benefits if government agencies betray the public trust.
There are no other corroborating articles available at this time, so we will have to see if this report pans out and if, indeed, the FBI has
overstepped its bounds. I would certainly hope that the FBI officials are correct in their insistence that the matters at hand are nothing more than