FBI memo details agents' blunders

Thursday, October 10, 2002

WASHINGTON -- FBI agents illegally videotaped suspects, intercepted e-mails without court permission and recorded the wrong phone conversations during sensitive terrorism and espionage investigations, according to an internal memorandum detailing serious lapses inside the FBI more than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks.

The blunders -- roughly 15 over the first three months of 2000-- were never made public but garnered the attention of the "highest levels of management" inside FBI, said the memo written by senior bureau lawyers.

Lawmakers reviewing FBI missteps preceding the terror attacks expressed surprise Wednesday at the extent of errors detailed in the memo, which focused on sensitive cases requiring warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The mistakes extend beyond those criticized in a rare public decision this summer by the secretive U.S. court that oversees the surveillance warrants.

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