IG launches new probes of domestic surveillance

The Justice Department's inspector general has agreed to investigate how the government is using domestic surveillance powers under the USA PATRIOT Act.

Inspector General Glenn Fine told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in a letter this week that his office plans to review special court orders forcing businesses to turn over records and to look at the use of national security letters, which are demands for information without a court order.

Previous investigations by Fine's office found deficiencies in the use of those powers and recommended corrective actions.

"Among other issues, our review will assess the FBI's progress in responding to [IG] recommendations in prior reports," Fine wrote in the letter dated June 15 but made public on Wednesday. "In addition, we intend to examine the number of [national security letters] issued by the FBI from 2007 through 2009, and we will closely examine the automated system to generate and track NSLs that the FBI implemented to address the deficiencies identified in the [IG] reports."

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