There are so many red flags going up on this article, I don't know where to start.
The Pentagon and to a lesser extent the CIA have been using a little-known power to look at the banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage within the United States, officials said Saturday.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Saturday the Defense Department "makes requests for information under authorities of the National Security Letter statutes ... but does not use the specific term National Security Letter in its investigatory practice."
Whitman did not indicate the number of requests that have been made in recent years, but said authorities operate under the Right to Financial Privacy Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the National Security Act.
"These statutory tools may provide key leads for counterintelligence and counterterrorism investigations," Whitman said. "Because these are requests for information rather than court orders, a DOD request under the NSL statutes cannot be compelled absent court involvement."
"It is our understanding that the intelligence community agencies make such requests on a limited basis," said Carl Kropf, a spokesman for the Office of the National Intelligence Director, which oversees all 16 spy agencies in the government.
The national security letters permit the executive branch to seek records about people in terror and spy investigations without a judge's approval or grand jury subpoena.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the lead agency on domestic counterterrorism and espionage, has issued thousands of national security letters since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.