July 20, 2015

Fight For Access Pits FBI, Justice Against Federal Watchdogs

In August, 47 federal watchdogs signed a letter to Congress saying department and agency officials were blocking access to information they needed to do their jobs. It’s now almost a year later and not much has changed.

The Peace Corps inspector general still can’t access data on sexual assaults against Peace Corps members abroad, and officials at the Environmental Protection Agency are claiming attorney-client privilege to block the IG there from records.

Drug Enforcement Administration officials are now cooperating with the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, but FBI employees still say DOJ’s IG investigators have no legal right to certain records like electronic surveillance and wiretap material.

Adding to the tension, the Department of Justice has asked the U.S. Attorney General’s Office of Legal Counsel whether the FBI or the DOJ IG is right, in a fight pitting FBI and DOJ officials as a whole against DOJ IG investigators.

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