JUSTICE: The Remedy for Government Surveillance

(Originally posted to The Hill's Congress Blog.)

As the end of the year approaches, Congress is facing a looming deadline: three sections of the infamous USA Patriot Act are due to sunset on December 31. Since it was rushed through Congress just 45 days after September 11, the Patriot Act has paved the way for the expansion of government-sponsored surveillance including the gutting of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to allow dragnet collection of Americans’ communications. Over the last eight years, numerous expansions of executive authority have worked in tandem to infringe upon Americans’ rights.

As the ACLU has testified last week, we’re pushing Congress to undertake a comprehensive reform of the Patriot Act and urging both chambers to revisit other surveillance laws now while they consider the three expiring provisions. There are currently two bills pending in the Senate to address the expiring Patriot Act provisions: the JUSTICE Act, introduced by Senators Feingold (D-Wisc.) and Durbin (D-Ill.) and the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act, introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy (D-Vt.).

The Senate Judiciary Committee is due to mark up Senator Leahy’s bill on Thursday. That bill is certainly a step in the right direction, but we believe that the JUSTICE Act, with its comprehensive approach to surveillance, is the bill Congress should pass. We’re urging members of the committee to vote for any JUSTICE Act amendments that may be added to Senator Leahy’s bill during the markup. In the end, it’s not enough to simply add safeguards to a few sections of the Patriot Act — we need broader privacy and civil liberties protections to reform the whole Act as well as other overreaching surveillance laws passed in recent years.

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Below is an article I received in an email from the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. As an organized gang stalking target for the last three years, I am concerned about the invasive techniques they are allowed to use and their "'undisclosed participation' by FBI agents and informants in political and civic organizations." I'm wondering who manipulates the strings of the community members in red cars, red trucks, wearing-carrying red who use organized gang stalking tactics in my harassment. Is there any legislation on the table to reign in the FBI?

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September 29th, 2009
Prompted by EFF Lawsuit, FBI (Partially) Releases Domestic Surveillance Guidelines
News Update by David L. Sobel
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has released a heavily censored version of its controversial Domestic Investigations and Operations Guidelines (DIOG), which became effective on December 1, 2008. EFF requested public disclosure of the guidelines under the Freedom of Information Act in December and, after more than six months passed with no response, we filed suit against the Department of Justice in June 2009. In response to the lawsuit, the Bureau agreed to answer EFF's disclosure request no later than October 13, and the court ordered it to do so. The FBI’s partial release of the DIOG complies with the court's order to respond to our request.

The 258-page document implements the Attorney General’s Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations, the most recent version of which was issued late last year by former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey. For 33 years, the FBI's domestic surveillance activities have been conducted according to a set of guidelines promulgated and revised by successive Attorneys General. Initially crafted by Edward Levi in 1976, the first set of guidelines were put into place to curb the invasive techniques of the FBI's Counterintelligence Programs (“COINTELPRO”) of the 1960s and 1970s.

The Mukasey guidelines, among other things, gave the FBI the authority to open investigative “assessments” of any American without any factual predicate or suspicion. Such “assessments” allow the use of intrusive techniques to surreptitiously collect information on people suspected of no wrongdoing and no connection with any foreign entity. These inquiries may include the collection of information from online sources and commercial databases, and the use of grand jury subpoenas to obtain telephone and email subscriber information.

In light of the invasive techniques that can be used as part of an “assessment,” it is disturbing that large portions of Section 5 of the DIOG, which governs the conduct of “assessments,” has been blacked out by the FBI in the publicly accessible version of the guidelines. The withholding of this information is particularly troubling when the Bureau concedes in a released portion of the DIOG that “assessments” are undertaken with "no particular factual predication," a standard which the agency itself admits is "difficult to define." It is also notable that the FBI has withheld virtually all of the section of the DIOG (Section 16) that governs “undisclosed participation” by FBI agents and informants in political and civic organizations.

The extensive withholding of critical parts of the DIOG conflicts with public assurances made by FBI and Justice Department officials. In a letter to Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, dated December 15, 2008, Valerie Caproni, the General Counsel of the FBI, noted that “we understand that the expansion of techniques available . . . has raised privacy and civil liberties concerns [but] we believe that our policies and procedures will mitigate those concerns.” Ms. Caproni stated that the FBI will “reassess the policy judgments made in the DIOG in one year.” She stated that the reassessment will be “informed by our experience in the coming year, as well as by comments and suggestions received from Congress and interested parties.” More recently, in an interview about the DIOG posted on the FBI website, Ms. Caproni said, “to the extent that the public has comments and concerns, they should let us know because nothing is written in stone and we hope we’ve gotten it right but if we haven’t gotten it right, our goal is to make it right.” Similarly, Assistant Attorney General for National Security David S. Kris promised in his confirmation hearing that “input from Congress and the public” would play an important role in the reassessment of the DIOG that is scheduled to occur at the end of this year.

EFF agrees that the DIOG – the blueprint for the FBI’s use of invasive techniques – should be the subject of a full and informed public debate. To that end, we plan to continue to pursue our pending FOIA litigation to challenge the FBI’s decision to withhold substantial portions of the document.

elizabeth Allen

I just spoke to Senator Kaufman's office (Senator from Delaware). His aide Lawerence acted like he didnt know what the hell I was talking about. Is this the kind of representation we have in the Senate? The aide asked me, "what do you want the Senator to do"? I said, "restore the Consitution" end the Bush's regimes shredding of several sections in our consitution. Restore Magna Carta. The guy was so lame I could hardly believe my ears.

michael scimeca

lets get rid of any form of personal imformation i am 82 years old. what happened to the united states that i knew?

David Elkins

Law enforcement is using a" Open ended " surveillance term to hide harassment, stalking, intimidation. Foia action 3:08 cv 1073 PK U.S. District court, Portland Oregon.

Chuck Drinnan

None of this assessment or any other intrusion should occur unless authorized by an independent judicial authority. If authorized it should be limited in duration.

Joe Keegan

The 4th Amendment is dead. I requested that FL Gov. Charlie Crist appoint a special prosecutor as suggested by FL Assistant Attorney General Joslyn Wilson.Three electronic surveillance experts verified illegal law enforcement bugs. Gov. Crist still hasn't replied to my request. If you're interested, you can read my letter to Gov. Crist at: http://governmentspying.blogspot.com/2009/07/assistant-attorney-general-... . I also filed a complaint and evidence with FBI Director Mueller. When the Director failed to reply, I filed a number of FOIA's. The FBI/DOJ denied receiving them, although their personnel signed for them.


The concern is that the clean sweep under the jurisdictional pretext (Haze Office) at the end of these political elections has not been completed. FOIA action 3:08 cv 1073 PK U.S. District Court, Portland Oregon should have been a lame duck organization based on backlog enforcement which is a straight line resignation for breach of government.


Group stalking is a form of domestic terrorism. Victims are being subjected to what is the equivalent of “no touch” torture. The following article is written by an attorney in NYC who is a victim of organized, group stalking. I am a registered nurse and also a victim. There are reportedly thousands of other victims all over this country. Who will step up and tackle this decidedly unAmerican and undemocratic practice. We need to restore the rule of law by exposing and stalking organized stalking. http://www.nowpublic.com/world/who-getting-thousands-gang-stalking-repor... http://www.nowpublic.com/world/gang-stalking-open-secrets-and-closed-soc...


Justice works in a lot of areas.


Justice works in a lot of areas.

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