The Justice Department for the first time reports on 9,254 FBI subpoenas for monitoring citizens. Some surveillance in the U.S. has been rising.
WASHINGTON — The FBI issued thousands of subpoenas to banks, phone companies and Internet providers last year, aggressively using a power enhanced under the Patriot Act to monitor the activities of U.S. citizens, Justice Department data released late Friday showed. The report given to members of Congress was the first to detail the government's use of a controversial form of administrative subpoena that has drawn fire because it can be issued by investigators without court oversight.
The Justice Department report also disclosed that its use of electronic surveillance and search warrants in national security investigations jumped 15% in 2005. The data show that U.S. authorities are in some cases escalating their use of anti-terrorism statutes.
Civil liberties groups said they found the new information worrisome. They said it raised concerns about whether investigators were being sensitive to the rights of citizens caught in terrorism-related probes.
The report includes the first look at the use of what are known as national security letters, which let the FBI obtain phone logs, Internet traffic records, and bank and credit information about individuals without a court order.