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Washington Post Report Claims FBI Illegally Collected Over 2,000 Phone Calls

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that, between 2002 and 2006, the FBI illegally collected over 2,000 phone calls made in the U.S.

According to the Post, the FBI invoked terrorism emergencies in order to gain access to the calls. The problem was that these emergencies didn't exist.

In addition, the FBI reportedly would also persuade phone companies to turn over the records to them.

Citing internal bureau memos (such as e-mails) and interviews, the Post said that officials in the FBI's headquarters did not follow procedures - originally implemented by the FBI itself - that were designed to protect privacy.

The newspaper received confirmation from bureau officials that a soon-to-be released Justice Department inspector general's report being released this month will show that the FBI frequently violated the law with its frequent emergency requests.

In an interview with the paper on Monday, FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni said the FBI should have "stopped those requests from being made that way."

She added that, though they were "good-hearted but not well-thought-out" requests, "what this turned out to be was a self-inflicted wound."

One of the emails obtained by the Post confirmed that FBI officials were aware of the problem, with FBI lawyer Patrice Kopistansky writing in a 2005 email that the bureau had to "make sure we are not taking advantage of this system, and that we are following the letter of the law without jeopardizing national security."

According to FBI officials, around half of the 4,400 toll records collected in emergency situations or with after-the-fact approvals were collected in a manner that technically violated the law, the paper said.

The FBI has argued that its agents were working under the stress of trying to stop terrorist attacks before they happened and were not deliberately breaking the law.

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