The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Illegal spying: not just for the NSA anymore

The Republican move to kill any investigation into the executive branch's illegal wiretapping might be a bigger victory for the White House than we thought. The NY Times reports today that the FBI has also been breaking the law in their surveillance efforts over the last several years. Thanks a million, GOP. The president couldn't keep breaking the law without your generous support. You've earned a coveted Knuckle Sandwich, which should either be referred to as a 'Knuckie' or a 'Sandie.' I'm not sure which, since I just made it up.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation found apparent violations of its own wiretapping and other intelligence-gathering procedures more than 100 times in the last two years, and problems appear to have grown more frequent in some crucial respects, a Justice Department report released Wednesday said.

While some of these instances were considered technical glitches, the report, from the department's inspector general, characterized others as "significant," including wiretaps that were much broader in scope than approved by a court and others that were allowed to continue for weeks or sometimes months longer than was authorized.

In one instance, the F.B.I. received the full content of 181 telephone calls as part of an intelligence investigation, instead of merely the billing and toll records as authorized, the report found. In a handful of cases, it said, the bureau conducted physical searches that had not been properly authorized.

The inspector general's findings come at a time of fierce Congressional debate over the program of wiretapping without warrants that the National Security Agency has conducted. That program, approved by President Bush, is separate from the F.B.I. wiretaps reviewed in the report, and the inspector general's office concluded that it did not have the jurisdiction to review the legality or operations of the N.S.A. effort.