Newly disclosed documents show the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US allowed its informants to commit at least 5,658 crimes in a single year.
In an exclusive report, USA Today
revealed on Monday that America’s top law enforcement agency authorized 15 crimes a day, ranging from buying and selling illegal drugs to bribing government officials, in 2011.
The FBI has been submitting a tally of crimes by its informants to the US Justice Department for more than a decade but has never made such tallies public.
obtained a copy of the bureau’s report for 2011 under the Freedom of Information Act.
A spokesperson for the FBI has refused to comment on the report, saying the circumstances under which FBI informants can break the law are “tightly controlled”.
“The million-dollar question is: How much crime is the government tolerating from its informants?” USA Today
quoted Alexandra Natapoff, a professor at Loyola Law School Los Angeles, as saying. “I'm sure that if we really knew that number, we would all be shocked.”
Meanwhile, US Congressmen have raised concerns over the secrecy surrounding the issue.
“This is all being operated clandestinely. Congress doesn't even have the information,” said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Massachusetts). “I think there's a problem here, and we should have full disclosure to Congress.”
Earlier this month, it was also reported that FBI agents have been using tools and tactics routinely used by computer hackers, such as spyware delivered to computers and phones through email and Web links, in order to spy on their targets.
One of such hacking tactics used by the FBI is to secretly activate the microphone on Android phones and laptops.
The revelations come amid a series of heavy blows to US security agencies in recent weeks.
Several reports and leaks have recently shed some light on the extent of massive spying programs run by US spy agencies including the National Security Agency.