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Bush Expresses Confidence in FBI Director After Scandal


President Bush has said he has confidence in Robert Mueller, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, a day after Mueller took responsibility for his agency illegally obtaining private information linked to anti-terrorism investigations.

Mr. Bush made the comment in Uruguay Saturday as he and Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez answered questions from reporters. He said the problems will be addressed as quickly as possible.

Results of a probe by the U.S. Justice Department, released Friday, determined the FBI improperly issued national security letters to obtain private information.

Mueller said such abuses are unacceptable and he vowed to take corrective measures. He said the letters are essential to protect Americans from terrorism, but said they must be used in a legal way.

The FBI has issued tens of thousands of national security letters under the U.S. Patriot Act, the anti-terrorism law passed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The probe found the FBI obtained the information by claiming it needed it immediately, and promising to obtain a subpoena later. But in many instances, a subpoena was never issued.

The report also said the FBI underreported by 20 percent the total number of letters issued to obtain telephone, email, and financial records.

The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee called it another example of the Bush administration going far beyond what has been authorized and they promised to investigate. Civil rights advocates expressed alarm, with the American Civil Liberties Union saying the report confirms the group's suspicions about an abuse of power.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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