ACLU Says FBI Can’t Manage Checkbook

January 10, 2008

Telecoms pull the plug when the government doesn't pay

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: 202-675-2312 or media@dcaclu.org

Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union responded to a summary report released yesterday by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The report, which details the FBI’s use of confidential case funds, showed that FBI wiretaps – at least one under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - have been disconnected due to the nonpayment of bills. The ACLU is asking for the full, 87-page report to be released.

The following can be attributed to Michael German, ACLU National Security Policy Counsel:

"Americans should be extremely concerned when the FBI’s failure to pay its bills on time puts our national security at risk. We’re down the constitutional rabbit hole when lack of payment, and not the lack of a warrant, prevents the FBI from wiretapping. It seems the telecoms, who are claiming they were just being "good patriots" when they allowed the government to spy on us without warrants, are more than willing to pull the plug on national security investigations when the government falls behind on its bills. To put it bluntly it sounds as though the telecoms believe it when FBI says warrant is in the mail but not when they say the check is in the mail.

"The information released by the OIG is yet another example of the complete disarray at the FBI. The FBI has failed to address its serious management issues – continuing to turn a blind eye to its internal problems. Yet against all odds, instead of being chided for not addressing these problems, the agency has asked for and received even more authority from Congress.

"Six and a half years after 9/11, the bureau’s mismanagement still threatens our national security.

Until proper oversight is imposed on the intelligence community, our security and our rights will remain at risk. As Congress is seeking to further expand surveillance powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, we urge them to take these facts into account. The bureau must be held accountable. If the FBI can’t even manage its checkbook properly, how can we trust it to ensure that our rights are being protected?"

For more information on FISA and surveillance, go to:
www.aclu.org/fisa

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