The Justice Dept. pored through the bank, library or telecom records of 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents—without a court’s approval. Apparently this was legal—it’s just the first time the FBI is publicly disclosing hard numbers.
By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer
Fri Apr 28, 7:15 PM ET
The FBI secretly sought information last year on 3,501 U.S. citizens and legal residents from their banks and credit card, telephone and Internet companies without a court’s approval, the Justice Department said Friday.
It was the first time the Bush administration has publicly disclosed how often it uses the administrative subpoena known as a National Security Letter, which allows the executive branch of government to obtain records about people in terrorism and espionage investigations without a judge’s approval or a grand jury subpoena.
Friday’s disclosure was mandated as part of the renewal of the Patriot Act, the administration’s sweeping anti-terror law.