Those PATRIOT Act Cassandras and Chicken Littles? They were on to something.
The FBI improperly and, in some cases, illegally used the USA Patriot Act to secretly obtain personal information about people in the United States, underreporting for three years how often it forced businesses to turn over customer data, a Justice Department audit found.
FBI agents sometimes demanded the data without proper authorization, according to a 126-page audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine. At other times, the audit found, the FBI improperly obtained telephone records in nonemergency circumstances. The audit blames agent error and shoddy record-keeping for the bulk of the problems and did not find any indication of criminal misconduct.
Still, "We believe the improper or illegal uses we found involve serious misuses of national security letter authorities," the audit concludes.
And did they report the accurate numbers of national security letters to Congress? No, of course not. Says the president:
"My question is, 'What are you going to do to solve the problem, and how fast can you get it solved?'" Bush said. "I was pleased by Director Mueller's answer that he had already begun to address the problems."
Referring to a news briefing that Mueller gave Friday, Bush said, "He took responsibility, as he should have."
Oh, come on. What does it take to get a Medal of Freedom anymore?