The following is a transcript of remarks made by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy upon this morning’s release of the U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s illegal seizing of thousands of phone records of Americans (including those of American newspaper reporters) by:
- lying to phone companies,
- lying to FISA court judges,
- constructing false accounts of terrorist threats that did not exist,
- pressuring phone companies to surrender records without legal authorization, and
- covering up the scandal by creating blanket after-the-fact authorizations covering all of these cases
Our full-text transcription from a live video feed:
Senator Patrick Leahy: This morning, the Inspector General released a report a few minutes ago detailing the misuse of exigent letters by the FBI to obtain information about U.S. persons. The report describes how the FBI used these exigent letters without proper authorization to collect thousands of phone records, including in circumstances where no exigent conditiions existed. The report also reports how the FBI compounded the misconduct by trying to issue National Security Letters after the fact.
This was not a matter of technical violation. The day was, with something like this, we’d have to answer to it. This was authorized at high levels within the FBI and continued for years. I understand, Director Mueller, the FBI has worked to correct these abuses, but this report is a sobering reminder of the significant abuse of this kind of authority.
No one is above the law: no Senator, and no member of the FBI. There has to be accountability for what happened here.
Senator Leahy promised today there would be “accountability” for members of the FBI who broke the law, violated Americans’ constitutional rights, and lied in order to exercise undue power. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy has the power to bring law-breaking government officials to account. In the weeks and months to come, we will see if Patrick Leahy keeps this morning’s promise.