The FBI in 2005 reported to Congress that its agents had delivered a total of 9,254 national security letters seeking e-mail, telephone or financial information on 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents over the previous two years.
Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine’s report says that number was underreported by 20 percent, according to the officials.
Fine conducted the audit as required by Congress and over the objections of the Bush administration.
Fine’s audit also says the FBI failed to send follow-up subpoenas to telecommunications companies that were told to expect them, the officials said.
Those cases involved so-called exigent letters to alert the companies that subpoenas would be issued shortly to gather more information, the officials said. But in many examples, the subpoenas were never sent, the officials said.
A federal appeals judge in New York warned in May that government’s ability to force companies to turn over information about its customers and keep quiet about it was probably unconstitutional.
Defenders of Big Brother government keep telling us that regardless of how oppressive and illegal the regulations may be — we can be assured there will be no violations of privacy. We should “trust the government”.
Predictably, that trust has been betrayed. Whether by deceit or incompetence doesn’t mean much.