The Justice Department has conducted hundreds of bugging and surveillance operations and visited numerous libraries and mosques using new anti-terrorism tools, the New York Times reports. The department is reviewing 4,500 intelligence files in terrorist cases to determine whether criminal charges should be brought. Such a mingling of intelligence and criminal investigations was largely banned under procedures in place before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
A 60-page report delivered yesterday to members of Congress was intended to answer concerns from lawmakers. It provided dozens of pieces of previously undisclosed data, including the use of hundreds of secret search warrants and the fact that some 50 people had been detained without charges as material witnesses.
The numbers the department provided on several issues appeared relatively low. For instance, it said agents from “fewer than 10” F.B.I. field offices had visited mosques as part of their investigations. Agents have contacted about 50 libraries in the course of terrorism investigations.
In the first year after the attacks Attorney General John Ashcroft approved 113 emergency authorizations for secret foreign intelligence warrants for electronic or physical surveillance, compared with fewer than 50 in the previous 23 years. In addition the Justice Department sought 248 times to delay having to notify the target of an investigation that a warrant had been executed.