The US Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) new report heightens the case for meaningful reform of the intelligence community. Since the flimsy defenses offered by defenders of the status quo the FBI has implemented broad, wide sweeping collection of telephone/mobile device data.
Failure to renew such a longstanding-9/11-induced-civil liberty-restricting “law” and this new report reveals a shift in focus. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is hamstrung more often than not by its secrecy & one-sided nature of its proceedings, something this new report also illustrates in detail.
Moreover, the OIG itself had repeated difficulty obtaining certain information for its reports because the FBI claimed that it was not allowed to disclose this information for “oversight purposes.” Large chunks of information redacted from the report are troubling for anyone who favoring robust oversight, transparency & honest governance.
Public debate about surveillance reform and Section 215 has understandably focused on the NSA and the phone records program. The OIG report, however, is an excellent reminder of several key points as we continue to fight: 1) Our concerns about the NSA should not cause us to ignore the FBI’s role in illegal surveillance; 2) Section 215 is about much more than bulk collection of phone records; and 3) so long as the intelligence and law enforcement communities can easily hide behind “it’s classified,” true reform will be a long way off.