Congress Left in Dark on DOJ Wiretaps
A Senate staffer was tasked two years ago with compiling reports for a subcommittee about the number of times annually the Justice Department employed a covert internet and telephone surveillance method known as pen register and trap-and-trace capturing.
But the records, which the Justice Department is required to forward to Congress annually, were nowhere in sight.
That’s because the Justice Department was not following the law and had not provided Congress with the material at least for years 2004 to 2008. On the flip side, Congress was not exercising its watchdog role, thus enabling the Justice Department to skirt any oversight whatsoever on an increasingly used surveillance method that does not require court warrants, according to Justice Department documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.
The mishap is just one piece of an ever-growing disconnect between Americans’ privacy interests, and a Congress seemingly uncommitted to protecting those interests.