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From: Otis Willie
Subject: FBI Memo Details Pre-9/11 Sloppiness
Organization: The American War Library
NNTP-Posting-Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 16:12:34 EDT
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 20:12:34 GMT
FBI Memo Details Pre-9/11 Sloppiness
(EXCERPT) Thu Oct 10, 2:32 PM ET, by TED BRIDIS, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - FBI (news - web sites) agents illegally videotaped
suspects, intercepted e-mails without court permission and recorded
the wrong phone conversations during sensitive terrorism and espionage
investigations, according to an internal memorandum detailing serious
lapses inside the FBI more than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks.
The blunders — roughly 15 over the first three months of 2000_ were
never made public but garnered the attention of the "highest levels of
management" inside FBI, said the memo written by senior bureau lawyers
and obtained by The Associated Press.
Lawmakers reviewing FBI missteps preceding the terror attacks
expressed surprise Wednesday at the extent of errors detailed in the
memo, which focused on sensitive cases requiring warrants under the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The mistakes extend beyond those criticized in a rare public decision
this summer, By the secretive U.S. court that oversees the
surveillance warrants. That court admonished the FBI for providing
inaccurate information in warrant applications.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer (news - web sites) said Thursday
that President Bush (news - web sites) was confident in the FBI's
ability to conduct secret surveillance using the warrants.
"The president has made it clear — and he believes the FBI is doing
this — about the importance of doing two things and doing them well.
One is protecting the American people from the risks that we face from
terrorists who would use our open system to come here and bring harm
to people; and secondly, to do it within the Constitution because it's
the Constitution, after all, that fundamentally gives us our greatest
The April 2000 memo — marked "immediate" and classified as "secret" —
describes different problems from those cited by the court. It
describes agents conducting unauthorized searches, writing warrants
with wrong addresses and allowing "overruns" of electronic
surveillance operations beyond their legal deadline.
"The level of incompetence here is egregious," said Rep. William D.
Delahunt, D-Mass., a member of the House Judiciary Committee (news -
web sites) who obtained the memo from the FBI and provided it to AP.
Said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.: "Honest
mistakes happen in law enforcement, but the extent, variety and
seriousness of the violations recounted in this FBI memo show again
that the secret FISA process breeds sloppiness unless there's adequate
The FBI's deputy general counsel, whose office approves requests for
national security warrants, acknowledged Wednesday the mistakes led to
broad concern inside his agency long before Congress began
investigating whether the bureau missed signs of Sept. 11.
"There's always going to be mistakes," said M.E. "Spike" Bowman. "We
looked at those incidents very, very hard. We found no common thread.
A lot of it was inattention to detail."
These warrants are among the most powerful tools in the U.S.
antiterrorism arsenal, permitting secre...
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