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July 16, 2012

FDA hacked computers in leak probe

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration used computer spyware to keep tabs on agency scientists who were communicating with members of Congress, records revealed.

The New York Times said Sunday the computer eavesdropping began in 2010 as an investigation into leaks of confidential information but ballooned into what the newspaper termed an enemies list used to crack down on the FDA's critics and potential whistle-blowers.

Members of Congress whose offices were caught up in the spyware operation were outraged at the monitoring, they told The Times. "They think they can be the Gestapo and do anything they want," fumed Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

The Times said the monitoring grew out of a long-running dispute between agency officials and a small group of FDA scientists over the supposedly faulty FDA review and approval of medical imaging equipment that exposes patients to radiation.

The FDA said the monitoring was limited to the five individuals, who were suspected of leaking information about the devices. The Times said the records collected totaled 66 volumes of material, including letters to Congress members and legal documents.

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