Charles McCullough Too Busy Investigating Leakers to Investigate the Dragnet

As I noted back in September, Patrick Leahy and a bunch of other Senators asked the Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough to investigate the dragnet.

In particular, we urge you to review for calendar years 2010 through 2013:

  • the use and implementation of Section 215 and Section 702 authorities, including the manner in which information – and in particular, information about U.S. persons – is collected, retained, analyzed and disseminated;
  • applicable minimization procedures and other relevant procedures and guidelines, including whether they are consistent across agencies and the extent to which they protect the privacy rights of U.S. persons;
  • any improper or illegal use of the authorities or information collected pursuant to them; and
  • an examination of the effectiveness of the authorities as investigative and intelligence tools.

McCullough just answered.

No.

“At present, we are not resourced to conduct the requested review within the requested timeframe,” wrote McCullough, before adding he and other agency inspectors general are weighing now whether they can combine forces on a larger probe.

Leahy had asked McCullough to finish in what was then 15 months, December 2014, which would make it available for the PATRIOT Reauthorization due the next year.

Note, McCullough gave the same answer he and NSA’s IG gave when Ron Wyden asked how many Americans get caught up in the dragnet.

Not enough resources.

Mind you, he apparently has enough resources to do this:

Finally, we began to implement a program to lead IC-wide administrative investigations into unauthorized disclosures of classified information (i.e., “leak”) matters.

[snip]

The Investigations Division reviewed hundreds of closed cases from across the IC. Going forward, the division will engage in gap mitigation for those cases where an agency does not have the authority to investigate (multiple agencies or programs) or where DOJ declined criminal prosecution. The division will conduct administrative investigations with IG Investigators from affected IC elements to maximize efficiencies, expedite investigations, and enhance partnerships.

[snip]

The Investigations Division is reviewing 375 unauthorized disclosure case files.

But not enough resources to review a massive dragnet affecting every American in time to have results before the dragnet gets reauthorized.

Update: And apparently the Senate Intelligence Committee just told ODNI to investigate more leaks and pre-leaks.

  • Empowering the Director of National Intelligence to improve the government’s process to investigate (and reinvestigate) individuals with security clearances to access classified information;

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

5 replies
  1. Maxcrat says:

    HA! Not enough money, the oldest, lamest, dumbest agency excuse in the world for not doing something they don’t want to do.

    Obviously responding to this request from a senior member of their authorizing committee is lower priority than their other activities, which they clearly have somehow managed to scrounge together the resources to conduct.

    One might ask, if the IG can’t be bothered to investigate major ongoing(arguably) criminal violations of law in his or her own agency, what good are they really? Does it really make sense to keep funding them at all?

  2. P J Evans says:

    They already know who they’re going to blame for the leaks. It’s just a matter of creating the evidence to back up the planned charges.
    Not nearly as much work as a real investigation would require, and the results are more certain.

  3. Andre says:

    Well, obviously this guy has got to be kicked in the ass! Just saying. Maybe they should make time management mandatory for him, considering the money WE are paying him.

  4. Dan says:

    Perhaps Congress should tell them reauthorization won’t happen until after it reviews the requested report.

Comments are closed.