PPSA's senior policy advisors, Bob Goodlatte and Mark Udall, writes in Real Clear Politics.
Politico: DHS Employees So Worried About Domestic Surveillance They Asked About Legal Liability Insurance
“Run Like a Corrupt Government"
Politico on Monday released the results of an investigation into activities of “virtually unknown” domestic intelligence activities within the Department of Homeland Security.
In documents obtained by Politico, one DHS employee said that the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis is “shady” and is “run like a corrupt government.” Some employees were so worried about the thin legal justification for their domestic spying activities that they wanted their employer to cover them with legal liability insurance.
A survey by I&A Field Operations Division, now called the Office of Regional Intelligence, found that one-half of respondents said they had alerted managers that they were concerned their activity was inappropriate or illegal. Many felt senior leadership had an “inability to resist political pressure.”
“In recent years, the office’s political leadership – Democrat and Republican – has pushed I&A to take a more and more expansive view of its mandate, putting officers in the position of surveilling Americans’ views and associations protected by the U.S. Constitution,” said Spencer Reynolds, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, himself a former DHS intelligence and counterintelligence attorney. “There’s a tendency to use the office’s power to paint political opponents – be they left-wing demonstrators or QAnon truthers – as extremists and dangerous. This has had a disastrous impact on morale – most people don’t join the Intelligence Community to monitor their fellow Americans’ political, religious, and social beliefs.”
He added that I&A’s leadership has “sidelined” oversight offices, leaving employees little recourse but to comply.
I&A intelligence agents can also seek voluntary interviews with incarcerated people, including people awaiting trial. They must state that the interview is voluntary and that they have no sway over judges either in criminal or immigration cases. But they also can seek these interviews with inmates and those awaiting trial without alerting their attorneys. In many cases, the interviewees’ lawyers aren’t aware that the conversations are happening.
“While this questioning is purportedly voluntary, DHS’s policy ignores the coercive environment these individuals are held in,” said Patrick Toomey of the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project. “It fails to ensure that individuals have a lawyer present, and it does nothing to prevent the government from using a person’s word against them in court.”
The civil liberties community owes a big debt of gratitude to Politico for this in-depth piece. Domestic intelligence gathering is pervasive and often without guardrails. Congress has much to investigate.
WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Why did CBS allow intelligence officials to mislead about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act?
Our General Counsel, Gene Schaerr, writes in the Washington Examiner on how CBS News and their podcast, Intelligence Matters, enabled a completely one-sided, misleading interview about our government's domestic surveillance. Every citizen should be outraged on how our privacy rights are being abused all around.
WASHINGTON EXAMINER: The Supreme Court’s chance to take on government surveillance and secrecy
Next week, the justices will decide whether to take up a case, Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA, that raises a narrow but vital question for surveillance and the rule of law. Wikimedia asks the Supreme Court to decide whether and when the government can invoke secrecy to halt lawsuits challenging executive branch overreach.
The Supreme Court’s decision on whether to take up this case will have long-lasting implications for independent oversight of the NSA, CIA, and FBI, and other intelligence agencies. Meanwhile, the public’s privacy hangs in the balance.
Our senior policy advisors, former U.S. Congressman Bob Goodlatte and former U.S. Senator Mark Udall, map out four basic principles all surveillance programs should be subject to by Congress before the reauthorization of Section 702 can be contemplated.
"Only Congress and the American people can decide whether we will remain a free society or succumb to technological totalitarianism."
A must read opinion piece in Real Clear World by our President, Erik Jaffe.