Here are two headlines that really need to be seen together. mjh
FBI Finds It Frequently Overstepped in Collecting Data
FBI SEEKING TO CREATE CONTROVERSIAL SIX-BILLION RECORD DATABASE
In the name of fighting terrorism, the FBI is seeking to create a new $12-million data-mining program that “bears a striking resemblance” to the Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness program. Documents predict that this new program “will include six billion records by FY2012. This amounts to 20 separate ‘records’ for each man, woman and child in the United States.” Citing the FBI’s “track record of improperly — even illegally — gathering personal information on Americans,” House Science and Technology Committee members Brad Miller (D-NC) and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) requested last week that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate the proposal. In 2005, the GAO found that the FBI’s Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force did not comply with all privacy and security laws. Earlier this year, an Inspector General’s report found that the FBI had repeatedly violated regulations while using National Security Letters to “obtain the personal records of U.S. residents or visitors.” In addition, an internal FBI audit published today by the Washington Post found “that the bureau potentially violated the law or agency rules more than 1,000 times while collecting data about domestic phone calls, e-mails and financial transactions in recent years.” “[T]wo dozen of the newly-discovered violations involved agents’ requests for information that U.S. law did not allow them to have.” These repeated violations of federal law are made worse in light of the fact that such data mining techniques have yet to be proven effective in counter-terrorism operations. A recent Cato Institute study found that programs similar to this new FBI program are likely do little but “flood the national security system with false positives — suspects who are truly innocent.”
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FBI Finds It Frequently Overstepped in Collecting Data, By John Solomon, Washington Post Staff Writer
An internal FBI audit has found that the bureau potentially violated the law or agency rules more than 1,000 times while collecting data about domestic phone calls, e-mails and financial transactions in recent years, far more than was documented in a Justice Department report in March that ignited bipartisan congressional criticism.
The new audit covers just 10 percent of the bureau’s national security investigations since 2002, and so the mistakes in the FBI’s domestic surveillance efforts probably number several thousand, bureau officials said in interviews. The earlier report found 22 violations in a much smaller sampling.