EPIC FOIA Notes #10
December 15, 2005

"Recent Changes" Allow FBI to "Bypass" Oversight Office

SNAPSHOT [click for full PDF document]

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.

Oversight of the FBI's expanded intelligence powers under the Patriot Act.

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.

Congress is now considering whether new safeguards are necessary for 215 investigations before the Patriot Act is renewed. These documents raise important questions about the sufficiency of oversight of the FBI's expanded investigative authorities.


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