Saturday, February 5, 2011

FBI involved in hundreds of violations in national-security investigations

FBI involved in hundreds of violations in national-security investigations

The FBI disclosed to a presidential board that it was involved in nearly 800 violations of laws, regulations or policies governing national-security investigations from 2001 to 2008, but the government won't provide details or say whether anyone was disciplined, according to a report by a privacy-watchdog group.

WASHINGTON — The FBI disclosed to a presidential board that it was involved in nearly 800 violations of laws, regulations or policies governing national-security investigations from 2001 to 2008, but the government won't provide details or say whether anyone was disciplined, according to a report by a privacy-watchdog group.

The San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation sued under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain about 2,500 documents the FBI submitted to the President's Intelligence Oversight Board.

The board was created in 1976 to monitor U.S. intelligence gathering.

Intelligence agencies are required to submit reports to the board about suspected violations of civil-rights-related laws or presidential orders.

The nonprofit foundation said it obtained documents from a variety of intelligence agencies, but most of the records were so heavily censored they couldn't be properly evaluated.

The FBI provided the most substantive disclosures, although the documents were redacted to withhold names, exact dates and other identifying details, and they don't say what action was taken to remedy or punish the violations.

Nevertheless, the documents "constitute the most complete picture of post- 9/11 FBI intelligence abuses available to the public," says the report, which is to be released Monday but was obtained in advance by the Tribune Washington Bureau.

"The documents suggest," the report says, "that FBI intelligence investigations have compromised the civil liberties of American citizens far more frequently, and to a greater extent, than was previously assumed."

The new disclosures come as the Patriot Act is up for renewal in Congress before it expires in February.

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