Sources familiar with the case tell NEWSWEEK that FBI agents in Minneapolis seized Moussaouis computer in mid-August after officials at an Eagan, Minn., flight school tipped them off that the 33-year-old French citizen was acting suspiciously. Moussaoui had sought training only in making turnsnot take-offs and landingsand specifically asked about flying over New York air space, officials said.
But, while Moussaoui himself was placed in detention on minor immigration charges on August 17, agents in Minneapolis were never given approval by Justice Department officials in Washington to open up the hard drive on the suspects computer. The Minneapolis agents sought approval to do soand to take other investigative steps aimed at Moussaouiin early September under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), officials said. This came after a FBI tracea request for information from friendly foreign governmentsyielded a report from French intelligence that Moussaoui had been associated with members of an Algerian terrorist group and may have traveled to Afghanistan.
The information in bold type means all requirements of FISA had been met for a warrant
The special court that reviews FISA requests -- a federal panel that since 1999 has included U.S. District Judge Michael Davis of Minnesota -- has approved more than 12,000 Justice Department applications for covert search warrants and wiretaps and rejected only one since the act was passed in 1978, according to government reports.