In a front-page article today, the Washington Post reported that between 2002 and 2006 the FBI illegally collected “more than 2,000 U.S. telephone call records between 2002 and 2006 by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist or simply persuading phone companies to provide records, according to internal bureau memos and interviews.”
The FBI acknowledged that many of the phone records obtained belong to individuals with no connection to terrorism. This over-collection of data and abuse of search tactics actually detracts from our national security by obstructing properly targeted terrorism investigations.
Bassem Youssef, the highly decorated Chief of the FBI’s Communications Analysis Unit in the Counterterrorism Division, was instrumental in exposing the illegal program and forcing FBI management to take corrective action, according to the article. Mr. Youssef’s vital contributions, made in the face of a systemic violation of civil liberties, highlight the need for strong protections for national security whistleblowers. Passage of strong whistleblower legislation (H.R. 1507) is absolutely essential to protect intelligence agency whistleblowers like Mr. Youssef.
The National Whistleblowers Center is urging people to TAKE ACTION by sending letters to their representatives in Congress that express support for Mr. Youssef and H.R. 1507.
*Meryl Grenadier (NWC fellow) contributed to this posting.