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(YahooNews)-WASHINGTON - The FBI improperly and, in some cases, illegally used the USA Patriot Act to secretly obtain personal information about people in the United States, a Justice Department audit concluded Friday.
And for three years the FBI underreported to Congress how often it forced businesses to turn over the customer data, the audit found.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who oversees the FBI, described the problems cited in the report as unacceptable and left open the possibility of criminal charges. He ordered further investigation.
The audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found that FBI agents sometimes demanded personal data on individuals without proper authorization. The 126-page audit also found the FBI improperly obtained telephone records in non-emergency circumstances.
(YahooNews)-WASHINGTON - The nation's top two law enforcement officials acknowledged Friday the FBI broke the law to secretly pry out personal information about Americans. They apologized and vowed to prevent further illegal intrusions.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales left open the possibility of pursuing criminal charges against FBI agents or lawyers who improperly used the USA Patriot Act in pursuit of suspected terrorists and spies.
The FBI's transgressions were spelled out in a damning 126-page audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine. He found that agents sometimes demanded personal data on people without official authorization, and in other cases improperly obtained telephone records in non-emergency circumstances.
Additionally, the audit found, the FBI identified 26 possible violations in its use of the letters, including failing to get proper authorization, making improper requests under the law and unauthorized collection of telephone or Internet e-mail records.