Lawmakers Press DoJ to Produce Surveillance Memoranda

A bipartisan group of lawmakers from both houses of Congress is again urging the Department of Justice to produce memoranda on the use of geolocation and other surveillance technology.

“Over the past two years, members of the House and Senate have repeatedly requested information related to the Department of Justice’s updated guidance for using geolocation and other surveillance technology. These requests noted congressional interest in reviewing how the Department has adjusted its policies to comply with recent Supreme Court decisions regarding the Fourth Amendment implications of using global positioning systems and searches of electronically stored information,” said yesterday’s letter to Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “Specifically, these requests asked for memoranda that were circulated to prosecutors and investigators in response to the Supreme Court decision in United States v. Jones.”

The letter noted that DoJ said in a September letter “that it will not provide these memoranda. Although the letter referenced ‘internal deliberative materials,’ the prior requests did not seek deliberative materials,” the lawmakers added.  “Instead, they sought to obtain the Department’s guidance to federal investigators and prosecutors about how to apply the law. The response goes on to suggest that disclosing this guidance to Congress would permit investigative targets to escape detection. But on an issue that fundamentally affects Americans’ privacy, the government should not rely on secret interpretations of law.”

The lawmakers asked DoJ to provide the memoranda by Oct. 30 and said they “are willing to engage in discussions about how to handle any materials that implicate specific investigations.”

The letter was signed by the following lawmakers: Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), Elijah Cummings (D., Md.), Jim Sensenbrenner(R., Wis.), John Conyers Jr. (D., Mich.), Ted Poe (R., Texas), and Jared Polis (D., Colo.), and Sens. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), Mike Lee (R., Utah), Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), Tom Udall (D., N.M.), and Martin Heinrich (D., N.M.). —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily