Anyone following liberty-related current events already knows that the Federal government keeps vast troves of data on virtually all American citizens, even those never accused of a crime. Following a write-up in The Wall Street Journal, a couple of Congressmen want the specifics on the Department of Justice’s justification for its sweeping and unConstitutional surveillance procedures.
Last week, Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking just what the DOJ is doing with the massive amounts of data it collects. They want to know if the DOJ seriously believes it has the legal authority to keep data on citizens who are not suspected of any crime, analyze aggregated government databases and change fundamental rules governing surveillance without approval from Congress. All of these things, the DOJ has done in secret in recent years.
From the letter:
If the WSJ report is accurate, these new powers represent a sweeping departure from past practices, which barred the NCTC from storing information about ordinary Americans unless a person was a terror suspect or the information sought was related to an investigation.
If the WSJ report is accurate, it raises numerous concerns and questions. As elected Representatives and members of the House Judiciary Committee, we are concerned such sweeping, fundamental changes would be made to existing policy without public input and Congressional approval. Changes, which fundamentally alter the relationship between the government and the governed, should only be made with input from the people by and through their elected Representatives.
The Congressmen have requested a response by the end of January. The American Civil Liberties Union has also done extensive research into the DOJ surveillance program, which can be read here.