- A new Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) report titled,
"Patterns of Misconduct: FBI Intelligence Violations from 2001 - 2008"
based its findings on nearly 2,500 FOIA-obtained document pages, revealing
"alarming (lawless) trends...."
- They suggest far more frequent civil liberty violations
than previously known, including:
- (1) grossly understated numbers;
- (2) long delays between violations and reporting them;
- (3) types of violations involved, including:
- (a) investigative oversight;
- (b) "abuse, misuse, or careless use of....National
Security Letter (NSL) authority;" FBI, CIA and other government agencies
use them (administrative subpoenas), demanding recipients turn over requested
information and remain silent; no probable cause or judicial oversight
- (c) sidestepping constitutional, Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act and other legal principles; and
- (d) complicity of ISPs, phone companies, financial institutions
and credit agencies, supplying unauthorized personal information without
their customers' knowledge or consent.
- (4) flagrant ones, including false declarations to courts,
supplying bogus evidence to get indictments, and accessing protected documents
- Officially less than 800 violations were reported. In
2007, a Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit of
only 10% of national security investigations found around 3,000, most never
reported. A 2008 OIG audit discovered massive underreporting. EFF's analysis
confirmed "as many as 40,000 violations" from 9/11 through 2008.
- In 1976, Gerald Ford established the Intelligence Oversight
Board (IOB) "with specific oversight responsibilities for the legality
and propriety of US intelligence activities." Since created, its work
has been mostly secret. After 9/11, it failed to report a single instance
of intelligence misconduct, and in 2008, Bush removed its ability to refer
violations to the Attorney General for criminal investigation or oversee
intelligence operations, effectively making it impotent. Obama changed
little, continuing lawless Bush practices.
- Original guidelines were established to protect citizen
constitutional rights from intrusive, overreaching intelligence investigations.
Yet EFF found significant noncompliance, including the FBI violating its
own internal oversight national security protocols, proving it repeatedly
acts lawlessly. Ineffective oversight lets them get away with it.
- Its NSL power abuses got much attention. Less covered,
however, was "the unwillingness of companies and organizations to
guard their clients' and users' sensitive, personal information" after
receiving NSL requests, whether legally justified or not. If the Bureau
acted lawfully, most would have been denied.
- Violations of federal law governing criminal investigations
and intelligence gathering activities were especially unique, flagrant,
brazen and egregious, including willfully making false written statements
to courts, supplying bogus information to get indictments of innocent people.
Because of Bureau secrecy and coverup, it's impossible to know the full
extent of its lawlessness, how many people were harmed, and for what reasons.
- Yet from what's known, "the frequency and type of
violations revealed....are staggering." Minimally, greater accountability
and oversight are needed. While many hoped Obama would end Bush administration
practices, they've continued unabated so far. Moreover, Congress refuses
to act. As a result, FBI lawlessness persists, breaching constitutional
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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