April 2, 2008
NEW YORK – The military is using the FBI to skirt legal restrictions on domestic surveillance to obtain private records of Americans’ Internet service providers, financial institutions and telephone companies, the ACLU said Tuesday.
The American Civil Liberties Union based its conclusion on a review of more than 1,000 documents turned over by the Defense Department after it sued the agency last year for documents related to national security letters, or NSLs, investigative tools used to compel businesses to turn over customer information without a judge’s order or grand jury subpoena.
“Newly unredacted documents released today reveal that the Department of Defense is using the FBI to circumvent legal limits on its own NSL power,” said the ACLU, whose lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court.
ACLU lawyer Melissa Goodman said the documents the civil rights group studied “make us incredibly concerned.” She said it would be understandable if the military relied on help from the FBI on joint investigations, but not when the FBI was not involved in a probe.
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