According to three officials with access to the report, Fine said the possible violations he discovered did not “manifest deliberate attempts to circumvent statutory limitations or departmental policies.”
But Fine found that FBI agents used national security letters without citing an authorized investigation, claimed “exigent” circumstances that did not exist in demanding information and did not have adequate documentation to justify the issuance of letters.
In at least two cases, the officials said, Fine found that the FBI obtained full credit reports using a national security letter that could lawfully be employed to obtain only summary information. In an unknown number of other cases, third parties such as telephone companies, banks and Internet providers responded to national security letters with detailed personal information about customers that the letters do not permit to be released. The FBI “sequestered” that information, a law enforcement official said last night, but did not destroy it.
The unclassified report from the Office of the Inspector General: A Review of the Federal Bureau of Investigationâ€™s Use of National Security Letters (local copy)
From page xxxiv of the Executive Summary:
We identified two ways in which FBI Headquarters Counterterrorism Division circumvented the requirements of national security letter authorities or issued NSLs contrary to the Attorney General’s NSI Guidelines and internal FBI policy. First, we learned that on over 700 occasions the FBI obtained telephone toll billing records or subscriber information from 3 telephone companies without first issuing NSLs or grand jury subpoenas. [....]