ICE The Latest Agency To Be Blessed By The Administration With The 'Security Agency' Accountability Shield

from the secure-from-the-public's-interest dept

ICE has joined Customs and Border Protection as a full-fledged security agency. ICE, like the CBP, has been hoping to upgrade from customs enforcement to NatSec machinery for several years now, possibly with an eye on backdoor-searching all the communications and data the NSA hoovers up.

CBP moved another step closer to becoming part of the Intelligence Community earlier this year when its employees were given the Office of Personnel Management’s prized “security agency” designation. This means identifying information about CBP employees will be almost impossible to obtain through FOIA requests. Since CBP officers are now security agency officers, America would apparently be less secure if the public were able to find out which officers in particular are doing bad things while being paid US tax dollars.

Ken Klippenstein, who broke the news about the CBP’s new accountability shield, has obtained another leaked memo. This one says ICE is now playing on the same opaque field as its cohort in immigration enforcement.

On June 11, the administration classified ICE as a “Security Agency,” according to a memo signed by [ICE chief Matthew] Albence and dated June 26. This new designation puts ICE employees in the same category as high-level intelligence officials, and blocks from disclosure information that is typically public, such as name, job title, and salary. The memo was provided to The Nation by an ICE official on condition of anonymity. The memo states:

I am pleased to announce that on June 11, 2020, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) approved ICE’s request to be identified as a “security/sensitive” agency for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) purposes. This designation will ensure that OPM withholds all relevant personally identifiable information (PII) of all ICE personnel where it processes FOIA requests moving forward, just as it does for other law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors.

According to Klippenstein, the memo written by Albence refers to this distancing of ICE from the public it serves as a “tremendous achievement.” But it’s not really clear what’s been achieved here, other than making ICE as insulated from accountability as other “security” agencies like the FBI and Secret Service. Whatever the internal rationalizations behind the decision, the implications for the public are clear: ICE can now withhold all information about its employees under FOIA Exemption 6.

The memo justifies ICE’s upgrade to “security agency” by citing nothing at all.

The memo claims the classification is necessary to protect its staff from increased threats in recent years, saying:

The increase in threats, intimidation, and doxing directed at ICE personnel in recent years underscored the need for this designation. Numerous examples of the harassment and threats you have had to endure were used to impress upon OPM that the ongoing disclosure of our employees’ identifying information under FOIA was simply unacceptable.

The memo provides no examples.

We, on the other hand, can provide plenty of examples of abuses committed by ICE employees, none of whom should be given an OPM-ordained accountability vacuum in which to operate. This ranges from deporting journalists for reporting on misconduct by ICE agents to engaging in abusive actions on almost a daily basis by ignoring the “worst of worst” directive in favor of cramming as many immigrants as possible into detention centers. Now, officers and agents participating in day-to-day misconduct have been given official assurance their misdeeds won’t be linked to their names.

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Comments on “ICE The Latest Agency To Be Blessed By The Administration With The 'Security Agency' Accountability Shield”

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Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: No oversight or accountability.

No oversight or accountability was typical during the Obama administration and the Bush administration.

And it will be again during a Biden administration.

Trump is looking to exploit it more for personal use and to victimize immigrants and marginalized groups, but will continue to be a problem with or without Trump.

The whole NatSec system needs to be abolished along with the entire justice system (including ICE and the CBP). We’ve tried reforming and it just doesn’t work.

Burn it all down.

Anonymous Coward says:

So much for ‘Land of the free, hone of the brave’! What the hell sort of country are we allowing a certain power made, sick in the head bunch turn us into? And the more they do, the less we try to stop them or, in fact, are able to stop them! How can we even imagine us to be the fighters for, the saviours of freedom and the free world when we are being overtaken, overrun by those doing even worse deeds?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Uriel-238 (profile) says:

It's worth noting the NSA and FBI went NatSec.

The NSA was supposed to secure communications but switched to trying to fight terror and engage in espionage by sabotaging communications.

The FBI was law enforcement. Now it’s National Security and instead of going after Serial Killers and mass online fraud they gaslight dumb crazy people into remotely-terroristy entrapment scams.

This reminds me of the problems the USSR had with production, and how soon every department was looking for the lowest-hanging fruit that qualified as doing their job.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Mercenaries

In the Iraq war, PMCs were used to engage in activities that we wanted to claim was not being done by the United States. It’s much like our current situation where we use extraordinary rendition to take detainees to other nations where non-American nationals torture them. That way we can still claim America does not torture with plausible deniability.

For every US trooper or officer we have in theaters of war, we have three more who are private military contractors. The fighting they do, the casualties they take, the killing they do is reported at the discretion of the commanders. That way we can report low death rates even when they’re not.

And when a PMC massacres a village or shoots a journalist, the United States has plausible deniability.

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