More Erosion of Police Oversight in the U.S.
Documents obtained by EPIC in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit reveal FBI agents expressing frustration that the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, an office that reviews FBI search requests, had not approved applications for orders under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. A subsequent memo refers to “recent changes” allowing the FBI to “bypass”; the office. EPIC is expecting to receive further information about this matter.
Under Section 215, the FBI must show only “relevance” to a foreign intelligence or terrorism investigation to obtain vast amounts of personal information. It is unclear why the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review did not approve these applications. The FBI has not revealed this information, nor did it explain whether other search methods had failed.
Remember, the issue here is not whether or not the FBI can engage in counterterrorism. The issue is the erosion of judicial oversight — the only check we have on police power. And this power grab is dangerous regardless of which party is in the White House at the moment.