DOJ Inspector General Tells Congress That FBI Isn't Letting His Office Do Its Job… Again

from the Fight-Block-Impede dept

The FBI is still actively thwarting its oversight. Last fall, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz informed the House Judiciary Committee that the FBI was routinely denying his office documents it needed to perform investigations. The withheld documents included everything from electronic surveillance information to organizational charts. Not only did the FBI refuse to hand over requested documents, but it also stonewalled OIG investigations for so long that “officials under review [had] retired or left the agencies before the report [was] complete.”

Nearly six months later, the situation remains unchanged. Horowitz is again informing the House Judiciary Committee that the FBI is still less than interested in assisting his office. The same stonewalling tactics and withholding of information continues, preventing the IG from fully examining the DEA’s use of administrative subpoenas.

The unfulfilled information request that causes the OIG to make this report was sent to the FBI on November 20,2014. Since that time, the FBI has made a partial production in this matter, and there have been multiple discussions between the OIG and the FBI about this request, resulting in the OIG setting a final deadline for production of all material of February 13,2015.

Both words in the phrase “final deadline” were quickly rendered meaningless by the FBI.

On February 12, 2015, the FBI informed the OIG that it would not be able to produce the remaining records by the deadline.

The FBI’s fluid definition of “final deadline” apparently includes a shrugged “We don’t really know when — or if — these documents will be produced.”

The FBI gave an estimate of 1-2 weeks to complete the production but did not commit to do so by a date certain.

The FBI claims it still needs to review the requested document list to ensure nothing that’s being asked for falls into its multitudinous exceptions — like information related to grand juries, Title III electronic surveillance and, oddly, the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Horowitz’s letter points out two things, the latter of which may prompt more immediate action than the first.

In the first place, the exceptions raised by the FBI do not apply to OIG investigations. Secondly, the (apparently continual) stonewalling of OIG investigations is, at best, a misuse of taxpayer funds.

Section 218 of the Appropriations Act does not permit the use of funds appropriated to the Department of Justice to deny the OIG access to records in the custody of the Department unless in accordance with an express limitation of Section 6(a) of the IG Act. The IG Act, Section 6(a), does not expressly or otherwise limit the OIG’s access to the categories of information the FBI maintains it must review before providing records to the OIG. For this reason, we are reporting this matter to the Appropriations Committees in conformity with Section 218.

We’ll see if the the FBI suddenly becomes a bit more helpful now that Horowitz has made a move for its wallet. But once again, this sort of activity completely undermines the arguments of those defending these agencies by pointing to the “rigorous oversight” supposedly keeping domestic surveillance in check and abuses of power to a minimum.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “DOJ Inspector General Tells Congress That FBI Isn't Letting His Office Do Its Job… Again”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
23 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

If you're asking, not demanding, you're not the one in charge

Any system of ‘oversight’ which does not include the ability for those providing the oversight to order those that they are investigating to provide the required information, with hefty, real penalties for refusal, is in the end utterly useless oversight.

If the ones you’re supposedly providing ‘oversight’ over can respond to your requests with ‘Eh, we’ll maybe get around to it at some point’, and there’s nothing you can do about it other than ask again, then they’re the ones in charge, not you.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Easy fix

How do they present evidence seized in an illegal warrantless search in court?

Bust a few field agents, you’re never going to get to the real problem, the guys at the top, anyway.

But jail enough low-level guys and the rest of them will think twice about kicking in a door without a warrant.

And NSL’s don’t cover that kind of thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Easy fix

How do they present evidence seized in an illegal warrantless search in court?

Simple: persuade the judge one of the numerous exceptions to requiring a warrant apply to this case. Or, hide the fact you never got a warrant.

Bust a few field agents, you’re never going to get to the real problem, the guys at the top, anyway.

You had better get a lot of them… Otherwise they’d be more scarred of being fired than facing charges.

But jail enough low-level guys and the rest of them will think twice about kicking in a door without a warrant.

See above: most would probably be more worried about what their bosses can do to them.

And NSL’s don’t cover that kind of thing.

NSLs are interpreted by a secret law. It very well could cover these situations and we just have yet to be informed it does. And if they don’t, Congress can pass a new law. After all, eroding civil liberties has bipartisan support in the US.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Easy fix

And the lack of warrants for the FBI would affect them how? After all, they don’t bother to get ’em already. From what I can see, the absolute worse that would happen is they would contact local law enforcement and give them enough information so that local law enforcement could engage in “parallel construction” and carry on regular business from there.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

If only there was a department created to deal with making sure justice was… oh…

Seriously, we need to demand that Congress stop just throwing money into the pit and ignoring the obviously serious problems in “their” house.

These are the people who are the first to say if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, yet they are doing everything (and then some) possible to hide stuff. Americans have lost faith in the government (and even many of the people who put all of their blind faith behind them are starting to ask WTF).

It is high time that they start doing what is required or start removing those who block it from happening. Refusal to do your job is grounds from firing for every other job (outside of Congress) in the country… start taking heads and remind them they can & will be held accountable.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...