The AP reports that the FBI admits it "improperly accessed" phone records, credit reports and internet traffic in 2006.
An audit by the inspector general last year found the FBI demanded personal records without official authorization or otherwise collected more data than allowed in dozens of cases between 2003 and 2005. Additionally, last year's audit found that the FBI had underreported to Congress how many national security letters were requested by more than 4,600.
The so-called "national security letters" are a vital part of the US Patriot Act. They are basically subponeas for information - nasty-grams that the FBI and CIA use to demand personal records from various organizations and corporations. They have no judicial oversight, require no probable cause and contain a gag order to prevent the companies from even disclosing that they received them.
This is the fourth straight year that the FBI has been accused of using the letters incorrectly. An audit by the Justice Department in 2005 uncovered that out of 19,000 FBI requests to obtain 47,000 records, the FBI had more than 1,000 violations.
This audit was demanded by congress and (naturally) objected to by the Bush administration.
So now that the audit has shown rampant violations of citizen's Constitutionaly-protected right to privacy for the fourth straight year, what is to be done about it? Apparently the Justice Department has "sternly reminded" the FBI that agents need to follow the rules of the National Security Letters.
Wow. A stern reminder. I feel completly vindicated.