FBI used Patriot Act to obtain ‘large collections’ of Americans’ data, DoJ finds

Report by department’s inspector general found that the FBI received from the Fisa court 51 orders for such data between 2007 and 2009

Thu 21 May 2015 15.30 EDT Last modified on Fri 14 Jul 2017 17.07 EDT

FBI director James Comey. Section 215 of the Patriot Act permits the FBI to collect business records relevant to a current counter-terrorism investigation.
The FBI director, James Comey. Section 215 of the Patriot Act permits the FBI to collect business records relevant to a current counter-terrorism investigation. Photograph: Cliff Owen/AP

As lawmakers and security agencies braced for a potential loss of the heart of the Patriot Act, a long-delayed Justice Department report showed that the FBI uses the surveillance authorities it provides for “large collections” of Americans’ internet records.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act permits the FBI to collect business records, such as medical, educational and tax information or other “tangible things” relevant to an ongoing counter–terrorism or espionage investigation. Since 2006, the NSA had also secretly used it to collect US phone data in bulk.

After Edward Snowden’s leaks allowed the Guardian to reveal the phone-records bulk collection in June 2013, deep political opposition coalesced around the bulk program – eclipsing the FBI’s acquisition of other data, which has long been an issue only for civil libertarians.

But a Justice Department inspector general’s report finally released on Thursday covering the FBI’s use of Section 215 from 2007 to 2009 found that the bureau is using the business-records authority “to obtain large collections of metadata”, such as “electronic communication transactional information”.

The specifics of that collection – which civil libertarians have called “bulky”, to signal that it is not bulk collection but not far off – are not provided in the redacted report. Yet electronic communication transactional information is likely to refer to records of emails, instant messages, texts and perhaps Internet Protocol addresses. Sections of the report refer to the FBI asking for “material related to internet activity” and mention “IP addresses and to/from entries in emails”.

FBI received from the Fisa court 51 orders for such data between 2007 and 2009, compared with 32 orders issued from the Patriot Act’s 2001 inception until 2006. An unrevealed fraction of those post-2007 orders include the NSA’s requests for bulk phone data every 90 days. Cybersecurity investigations were a growing category of the orders by 2009.

Additionally, the inspector general has outstanding questions about FBI procedures to obscure and destroy information about Americans obtained by the bureau and not related to terrorism or espionage.

While the FBI director, James Comey, stated on Wednesday that losing the Section 215 authority would be a “big problem”, the inspector general cast doubt on the overall security impact of the loss.

“[T]he agents we interviewed did not identify any major case developments that resulted from use of the records obtained in response to Section 215 orders, but told us that the material produced pursuant to Section 215 orders was valuable in that it was used to support other investigative requests, develop investigative leads, and corroborate other information,” the DOJ report found.

Privacy advocates seized on the report to argue, echoing Senator Rand Paul in his Wednesday filibuster, that the time has come to abandon all of Section 215, not just the bulk collection provision that a federal appeals court has already deemed illegal.

“This report adds to the mounting evidence that Section 215 has done little to protect Americans and should be put to rest. As Congress debates whether to rein in the NSA, this investigation underscores how sweeping the government’s surveillance programs are and how essential systemic reform is right now,” said Alex Abdo, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Daniel Schuman of Demand Progress urged Congress to let the provision “fade into the sunset”, and warned that the administration-backed USA Freedom Act, which ends bulk collection while preserving the rest of Section 215, was a pathway to future abuse.

“The well-intentioned USA Freedom bill, which would prop up some zombified provisions of the USA Patriot Act to menace our privacy in the future, should give way to a comprehensive review and reform of the intelligence community,” Schuman said.
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stalked562 21 May 2015 15:12



FBI Cointelpro 2015


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Fgt 4URIGHTS stalked562 21 May 2015 17:41



They are heavily involved in Cointelpro/Gangstalking as well as many other government agencies such as Homeland Security, Federal Airmarshall and your local police which is hiding the “real” use of Stingray/Dirtboxes. Stingray and other devices are not some listening device, it’s a weapon used to oppress in “secret.” State sponsored terrorism, when found out by the unsuspecting public should and can be prosecuted under the Rico Act as they are an organized crime syndicate hiding what’s factually being done across America on a large scale.

They are also fully aware of their crimes at the highest levels as it’s all over the internet so they hear it and have their databases full of their crimes. When it’s found out the politicians will act shocked as if they didn’t know, but almost all of them are guilty of treason which is being committed in secret. Secrecy is the bastion of tyrants.


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brianBT stalked562 22 May 2015 8:34




COINTELPRO’s initial public purpose was simple: expose, disrupt, misdirect, or otherwise neutralize groups that the FBI believed to be subversive


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Bitty1985 21 May 2015 16:30



I am so sick of this Government breaking the LAW! If they don’t abide by it why should we?


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ArtofLies Bitty1985 21 May 2015 19:17



I am so sick of this Government breaking the LAW! If they don’t abide by it why should we?
ÿou”keep voting for these goons, the americans are getting the fascism they deserve, and bin laden has won almost won the war posthumously. or isnt the rationale for terrorism to force onto citizens of the west the same dictatorial regime that they believe they are suffering from?


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Bitty1985 ArtofLies 21 May 2015 21:52



Remember what they say of people that assume.. I didn’t vote for him, I voted for Gary Johnson


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About kommonsentsjane

Enjoys sports and all kinds of music, especially dance music. Playing the keyboard and piano are favorites. Family and friends are very important.
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