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.
The audit also concluded that the FBI for three years underreported to Congress how often it used national security letters to ask businesses to turn over customer data. The letters are administrative subpoenas that do not require a judge’s approval.
“People have to believe in what we say,” Gonzales said. “And so I think this was very upsetting to me. And it’s frustrating.”
“We have some work to do to reassure members of Congress and the American people that we are serious about being responsible in the exercise of these authorities,” he said.
Under the Patriot Act, the national security letters give the FBI authority to demand that telephone companies, Internet service providers, banks, credit bureaus and other businesses produce personal records about their customers or subscribers. About three-fourths of the letters issued between 2003 and 2005 involved counterterror cases, with the rest for espionage investigations, the audit reported.
Shoddy record-keeping and human error were to blame for the bulk of the problems, said Justice auditors, who were careful to note they found no indication of criminal misconduct.
Still, “we believe the improper or illegal uses we found involve serious misuses of national security letter authorities,” the audit concluded.
Problem the first: I don’t see how “illegal use” isn’t “criminal misconduct.” If it’s not, the reporter should explain why not, because it’s confusing.
Problem the second: OH MY GOD. In what universe is Mueller thinking that “I’m really pissed about it, and I’m sorry, and it won’t happen anymore” is an adequate defense for anything?
I think I’ll go out, shoplift some shit, and then try that one. Whoops, sorry, I won’t do it again. See if the hideously expensive yet fabulous boutique on the corner will just shrug and let me go after I boost half their merchandise.
And can you imagine how many people would get out of prison tomorrow if they could only make use of this cunning strategy? “Dude, I didn’t mean to kill him, and I’m sorry. I won’t kill anybody again, ever. I mean, I’ll do my best. My bad. Can you take these leg irons off, now?”
Seriously. The precedent. The problem with all these abuses is not so much what’s being done today or why. It’s what might be done tomorrow, for what horrible reasons we can’t even contemplate, using our complacency in the face of this as an excuse.
The audit incensed lawmakers in Congress already seething over the recent dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys. Democrats who lead House and Senate judiciary and intelligence oversight panels promised hearings on the findings. Several lawmakers — Republicans and Democrats alike — raised the possibility of scaling back the FBI’s authority.
Scaling back the … What about THROWING SOME PEOPLE IN JAIL? Jesus, why is this hard? I know, I know, thieves get rich and saints get shot, but you know what? That kind of attitude just perpetuates the idea that it’s all okay and we don’t have to get pissed. I’m PISSED. I want somebody held accountable for this, and I don’t mean hauled before Congress to get spanked like Disneyland Doug has been for the past couple weeks. I mean arrested, fingerprinted, photographed, and PUT IN A GODDAMN CELL.