Carnivore responsible for terrorist e-mail mishaps, FBI says

Carnivore responsible for terrorist e-mail mishaps, FBI says

The FBI's controversial Carnivore system for intercepting e-mail malfunctioned when it was installed in 2000, hampering an antiterrorism investigation, according to internal FBI documents.

The March 2000 incident came to light in documents obtained by court order under the Freedom of Information Act by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which called Carnivore a 'powerful but clumsy tool that endangers the privacy of innocent American citizens.'

According to an FBI memo, the Carnivore 'software was turned on and did not work correctly' when it was installed. It captured not only the communications of the court-authorized target but e-mail messages of other Internet users. According to the memo, an 'FBI technical person was apparently so upset that he destroyed all the e-mail take, including the take on' the authorized target.

The FBI's International Terrorism Operations Section and its unit that tracks Osama Bin Laden performed the bungled surveillance.

The FBI did not respond to a request for comment on the incident by press time.

The Justice Department has cited university studies of Carnivore that it commissioned as proof that the system does not eavesdrop on unauthorized communications.

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