the Patriot Act was passed, administration officials have repeatedly
assured the public and Congress that there have not been improper uses
of that law. As recently as April 27, 2005, Attorney General Alberto
Gonzales testified that “there has not been one verified case of civil
Documents obtained by EPIC from the FBI describe thirteen
cases of possible misconduct in intelligence investigations. The case
numbering suggests that there were at least 153 investigations of
misconduct at the FBI in 2003 alone.
These documents reveal that the Intelligence Oversight Board has
investigated many instances of alleged abuse, and perhaps most
critically, may not have disclosed these facts to the Congressional
oversight committees charged with evaluating the Patriot Act.
According to The Washington Post
In one case, FBI agents kept an unidentified target under
surveillance for at least five years — including more than 15 months
without notifying Justice Department lawyers after the subject had
moved from New York to Detroit. An FBI investigation concluded that the
delay was a violation of Justice guidelines and prevented the
department “from exercising its responsibility for oversight and
approval of an ongoing foreign counterintelligence investigation of a
In other cases, agents obtained e-mails after a warrant expired,
seized bank records without proper authority and conducted an improper
“unconsented physical search,” according to the documents.
Although heavily censored, the documents provide a rare glimpse into
the world of domestic spying, which is governed by a secret court and
overseen by a presidential board that does not publicize its
deliberations. The records are also emerging as the House and Senate
battle over whether to put new restrictions on the controversial USA
Patriot Act, which made it easier for the government to conduct secret
searches and surveillance but has come under attack from civil
EPIC received these documents under FOIA, and has written
to the Senate Judiciary Committee to urge hearings on the matter, and
has recommended that the Attorney General be required to report to
Congress when the Intelligence Oversight Board receives allegations of
unlawful intelligence investigations.
This week marks the four-year anniversary of the enactment of the Patriot Act. Does anyone feel safer because of it?