DOJ’s IG Hints at Concerns about Back Door Search Issues

In addition to focusing on whether the classification of past IG Reports will limit what he can release about the Section 215 dragnet and Section 702 content collection, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz laid out one more significant civil liberties concern related to national security investigations.

Additional concerns about civil rights and liberties are likely to arise in the future. For example, significant public attention has been paid to programs authorizing the acquisition of national security information, but relatively less has been paid to the storing, handling, and use of that information. Yet after information has been lawfully collected for one investigation, crucial questions arise about whether and how that information may be stored, shared, and used in support of subsequent investigations. Similar questions arise about the impact on civil rights and liberties of conducting electronic searches of national security information and about whether and how information obtained in a national security context can be used for criminal law enforcement. As the Department continues to acquire, store, and use national security information, these issues will arise more and more frequently, and the Department must ensure that civil rights and liberties are not transgressed.

I don’t guarantee this is a reference to back door searches.

But we know that FBI has been permitted to conduct searches on content collected under traditional FISA or FISA Amendments Act since at least 2008. We know that the Intelligence Community does not believe it needs even Reasonable Articulable Suspicion — of a national security concern or of a crime — to search this data. And in the past, DOJ has argued it can use FISA-collected information to find things like evidence of rape to use to coerce people to turn informant.

So I’m going to wildarseguess that at least part of what Horowitz alludes to here pertains to whether DOJ can search this incidentally collected information in support of criminal investigations. That would of course violate the spirit of every wiretap law in the country, but given the government’s past interpretations of what the elimination of the wall between NSA and FBI means and their claims they don’t need RAS to search these databases, it is a real possibility that’s what they doing (though they may be claiming that the crimes in question are “related” to the national security claims — things like money laundering and drug sales and so forth).

I’m also interested in Horowitz’ allusion to “national security information.” Does this go beyond content? Is he worried about the use of bulk-collected data in criminal investigations?

OK, now he’s got me worried.

But note what he doesn’t say: that he’s investigating this.

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4 Responses to DOJ’s IG Hints at Concerns about Back Door Search Issues

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bmaz @isamuel @copiesofcopies @OrinKerr Sure, but to be clear, Orin has an intelligent+reasoned position. May not be mine, but it is not invalid.
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emptywheel @ZaidJilani Have heard that from African friends: beatings learned from Britons. @Luvnbeer
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emptywheel @brettmaxkaufman It's their nice way of saying, "Damnit, we had hoped we could go v Klayman alone in the one favorable judgment" @aclu @eff
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emptywheel @mattapuzzo What about the covert forces on the ground? They're just killing everyone? @robertcaruso
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emptywheel @tbogg Not sure how much of this story would have come out if Goodell weren't lying his ass off so consistently. Scapegoated Rice.
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emptywheel @eljefekenney Or someone trying to protect him, yes. It's possible it's true, even.
53mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @eljefekenney Dunno. Don't believe the parts abt Harbaugh, if that's your question. He CLEARLY knew more during his presser.
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emptywheel "Perhaps most visibly, Rice was the longtime spokesman for M&T Bank, one of the team's main sponsors " http://t.co/ZCOWvYAHl4
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emptywheel Glad @DVNJr's piece didn't drop till after Goodell's presser--more likely he'll go. But sort of wish it disproved the Mueller whitewash
59mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @BrianF1959 Maybe. But trust me .Your depiction of what happened with public perception is utterly wrong.
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emptywheel @BrianF1959 To WHAT? To the public learning that Clapper lied? In what world?
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emptywheel @BrianF1959 About 5 people noted in real time it was a lie. Snowden exposed it as such to the public.
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