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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emptywheel @BaFana3 So why didn't they just sanction him 2 years ago while they had UN agreement to do so?
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emptywheel @cjciaramella The donors need fluff consulting positions you know. $$ gotta come from somewhere. @dliebelson
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emptywheel RT @BaFana3: Personal? Saudi airstrikes destroy key assets of Taiz #Yemen economic juggernaut HSA. Cement plant, Lahj. Now, dairy factory, …
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emptywheel @csilberman70 Apocryphal or not. NYC got LGA bc the Mayor had to fly into the public airport. @iwelsh
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emptywheel @attackerman I keep thinking abt how, in 2006, at least Dingell and Conyers spoke up loudly for Americans in Lebanon, bc Dearborn.
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emptywheel RT @attackerman: US left Sharif Mobley in a Yemeni intelligence jail that Saudis are bombing. He's not the only US citizen left behind http…
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emptywheel @iwelsh Alternately titled: "Why a World Class City Like NYC Gets Stuck w/3 Embarrassing Horrible Airports."
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JimWhiteGNV James O'Keefe loses libel suit over Landrieu incident http://t.co/J9niwExiwA Hahahahahaha. More popcorn, please!
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JimWhiteGNV Do we know where Cliven Bundy was on the day Harry Reid got his injuries?
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JimWhiteGNV What could go wrong? How many more of own citizens will they kill? RT @McClatchyDC: US restores military aid to Egypt http://t.co/5vBVLe07MM
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JimWhiteGNV Roll Damn Arrests!
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emptywheel @MicahZenko But we have a new reason: Because Egypt has to do SOMETHING with all those new war toys.
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