Like FBI, CIA Has Used Secret 'Letters'
Now, newly released documents shed light on the use of the letters by the CIA. The spy agency has employed them to obtain financial information about U.S. residents and does so under extraordinary secrecy, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained copies of CIA letters under the Freedom of Information Act.
The CIA's requests for financial records come with "gag orders" on the recipients, said ACLU lawyer Melissa Goodman. In many cases, she said, the recipient is not allowed to keep a copy of the letter or even take notes about the information turned over to the CIA.
The ACLU posted copies of some of the letters on its Web site. In most cases, nearly all the text had been redacted by CIA censors.
A CIA spokesman acknowledged the occasional use of the letters but dismissed the criticism that the practice was unusually secretive. The requests always have been voluntary and intended to
-- Joby Warrick