Who's in Your Five? EFF Documents Show the FBI Sought Details About "Communities of Interest"
September 09, 2007
Documents [PDF] obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation show that the FBI asked telecommunications companies to turn over information about people in contact with individuals the FBI was investigating, though a degree removed from any suspicious activity and presumably innocent. As Eric Lichtblau reported in the New York Times this morning:
The F.B.I. cast a much wider net in its terrorism investigations than it has previously acknowledged by relying on telecommunications companies to analyze phone-call patterns of the associates of Americans who had come under suspicion, according to newly obtained bureau records.
The documents indicate that the Federal Bureau of Investigation used secret demands for records to obtain data not only on individuals it saw as targets but also details on their "community of interest" — the network of people that the target was in contact with. The bureau stopped the practice early this year in part because of broader questions raised about its aggressive use of the records demands, which are known as national security letters, officials said. Read more here.