DOJ expanding national security, privacy oversight efforts

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) [official websites] Friday announced [press release] the proposed launch of two oversight offices dedicated to reviewing the DOJ's National Security Division [official website] and the FBI's compliance with privacy laws, saying that the new offices will expand the scope of its oversight beyond the DOJ's "traditional oversight role" of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) search warrants and will examine "all national security activities to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, guidelines, and policies." American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] Washington Legislative Office Director Caroline Fredrickson said that "though it is commendable that the DOJ is pointing its investigative arm inward, its track record on internal regulation is shaky at best." Fredrickson called for independent oversight [press release], adding that "congressional and judicial oversight" must be used to guarantee that civil liberties are protected.

In March, the DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) [official website] released a report [PDF text] finding privacy violations at the FBI [JURIST report]. The review, conducted under the terms of the 2005 Patriot Act renewal legislation, found that the agency had improperly used national security letters [CRS backgrounder, PDF; FBI backgrounder]. In June, a federal district judge ordered [PDF text; JURIST report] the FBI to release approximately 100,000 pages of documents detailing the FBI's use of NSLs pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act [DOJ backgrounder] request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation [advocacy website]. AP has more.

 

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