Quantcast
Connect with us

DOJ failed to issue key wiretap reports during Bush’s second term

Published

on

For the Bush administration’s entire second term, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) failed to tell Congress how many intrusive wiretaps were carried out by law enforcement, despite a legal requirement that it produce an annual report detailing the practice, a security researcher has learned.

At the same time, Congress shirked its duties as a watchdog and apparently didn’t even ask for the report, Wired reporter David Kravets noted Monday morning.

ADVERTISEMENT

The reports, detailing the use of pen registers and trap and trace devices — wiretap methods that reveal a subject’s communications, and who a subject is communicating with, all in real time — were obtained by privacy activist Christopher Soghoian, who used a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to shoehorn out not just the reports, but a series of revealing emails as well.

One of the emails (PDF) — a 2009 exchange between the former deputy assistant attorney general for legislative affairs and a staffer for former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) — lays the situation bare: “I am pleased to attach the criminal pen/trap reports for the last five years,” the DOJ’s Mark Agrast wrote. “The Criminal Division recently discovered that reports had not been filed for 2004 and subsequent years, so they filed all of the reports in 2009.”

In the department’s internal communications, included in the FOIA, Agrast asked subordinates what became of the reports and when they stopped being filed. One individual replied: “Although there was an annual reporting requirement, apparently, no one had been actually filing the annual report. When we discovered the problem this year, we had OEO go back and do the report this year.”

It’s not clear how long the reports were not being filed, but an analysis by Soghoian claims that 1999-2003 did not see reports filed either, with data from all of those years being made public all at once in 2004.

ADVERTISEMENT

Reached by Raw Story, a DOJ spokesperson did not comment on this report.

Even if Congress had been given the data on time, it’s not clear if they would have done anything with it.

President Barack Obama, as a U.S. Senator, was skeptical of the blanket spying powers approved by Congress in the Patriot Act, passed shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. As a candidate for president and even shortly after taking office, the president was looking to reform those laws to give Congress a greater oversight role. Despite these pledges, Obama in 2011 signed a four-year extension of the act after virtually no debate in Congress.

ADVERTISEMENT

The last serious debate over wiretapping came ahead of the 2008 presidential election, when Congress went to the mat over whether telephone companies should be held accountable in civil suits for violating laws while assisting federal authorities in domestic spying without adequate court oversight.

Though initially opposed to that measure as well, Senator Obama changed his stance at the last moment and voted in favor, drawing praise from Republicans after its passage. The Obama administration has since defended that immunity in court filings.

Photo: Flickr user jeffschuler.

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump’s mentor Roy Cohn exposed in new documentary that contains an ominous warning about the president’s downfall

Published

on

President Donald Trump has long looked at infamous attorney Roy Cohn as his political mentor, and at one point during special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation demanded that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions act more like Cohn in assertively defending him.

A new documentary called "Where’s My Roy Cohn?" exposes the history of Trump's hero, who first became famous during Sen. Joseph McCarthy's hearings about purported communist infiltration of the United States government in the 1950s.

Politico senior staff writer Michael Kruse has written up a review of the documentary in which he explains why Trump obviously finds Cohn so appealing: For decades he got away with remorselessly breaking the law.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Black principal instantly questioned by white cop after accidentally walking past crime scene

Published

on

On Wednesday, the Baltimore County Police released disturbing body camera footage of a white police officer antagonizing a black high school principal in front of his 15-year-old son, and demanding to know whether he was responsible for a crime scene he had just witnessed — because he happened to be walking past.

"You guys weren't involved in that at all were you?" the officer asked Vance Benton and his son in the footage, which was shared by the Daily Mail.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump has shrunk the White House entirely around himself: ‘It is a government of one’

Published

on

President Donald Trump has cleared out all the constraints in his White House, which he's running much like the Trump Organization.

The president has chased away four national security advisers, three chiefs of staff, three directors of oval office operations and five communications directors -- an unprecedented amount of turnover for a modern president — and finds himself surrounded by compliant staffers and aides, reported Politico.

“It is a government of one in the same way in which the Trump Organization was a company of one,” said one former senior administration official.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image