DOJ: Operators helped FBI illegally obtain phone records
IDG News Service – The FBI was so cavalier — and telecom companies so eager to help — that a verbal request or even one written on a Post-it note was enough for operators to hand over customer phone records, according to a damning report released on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General.
The 289-page report details findings of the DOJ’s investigation into the FBI’s policies for requesting phone records from 2003 through 2006.
It found that in many cases the FBI issued written requests for telephone information, saying that it had secured the proper legal authority to make such requests, even though it didn’t.
Also, the report found that the FBI used far more casual methods to obtain records, including verbal requests and requests written on Post-it notes.
When the FBI did use formal written requests, it did not track their use or keep copies of them, the report found.
Some telecom employees, who were based in FBI offices so as to quickly respond to such requests, said that they assumed that the requests were based on a critical national security investigation, although at least one expressed doubts about the circumstances surrounding requests. In fact, some telecom company employees were so enthusiastic to help that they would generate the formal written requests for telephone records on behalf of the FBI.
The report refers to three telecom providers that placed employees in FBI offices, but it does not name the operators.
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