Even when the FBI can go to a secret court for authorization for intrusive surveillance or, in some cases, do it according to internal oversight, the Washinton Post is reporting that some FBI agents have circumvented all oversight to conduct surveillance on US residents:
FBI Papers Indicate Intelligence Violations
In other cases, agents obtained e-mails after a warrant expired, seized bank records without proper authority and conducted an improper "unconsented physical search," according to the documents.
Although heavily censored, the documents provide a rare glimpse into the world of domestic spying, which is governed by a secret court and overseen by a presidential board that does not publicize its deliberations. The records are also emerging as the House and Senate battle over whether to put new restrictions on the controversial USA Patriot Act, which made it easier for the government to conduct secret searches and surveillance but has come under attack from civil liberties groups.
The records were provided to The Washington Post by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group that has sued the Justice Department for records relating to the Patriot Act.
David Sobel, EPIC's general counsel, said the new documents raise questions about the extent of possible misconduct in counterintelligence investigations and underscore the need for greater congressional oversight of clandestine surveillance within the United States.
"We're seeing what might be the tip of the iceberg at the FBI and across the intelligence community," Sobel said. "It indicates that the existing mechanisms do not appear adequate to prevent abuses or to ensure the public that abuses that are identified are treated seriously and remedied."