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August 03, 2020

Rose and Thompson Announce Legislation to Ensure Proper Oversight of DHS Intelligence Products

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism, and Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, announced they are introducing legislation to strengthen protections against abuses of civil rights and civil liberties by the intelligence arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by restoring vital checks on the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A). 

Yesterday it was reported that Ken Cuccinelli – who is temporarily acting as DHS Deputy Secretary – recently revoked a longstanding policy to have the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) review I&A products before they are disseminated to state and local law enforcement partners. Just last week, it was reported that DHS had compiled and disseminated intelligence products on American journalists’ reporting activities, which are protected by the First Amendment. Chairs Thompson and Rose sent a letter to DHS I&A last week requesting documents to carry out oversight of this troubling activity and other related issues.

The Strengthening Oversight of DHS Intelligence Act will require DHS I&A products to be vetted by CRCL to ensure they do not violate constitutional and other legal protections. The legislation also codifies a requirement for CRCL to provide training to senior DHS intelligence personnel on civil rights and civil liberties protections.

“Despite their best clean-up efforts after getting caught, it was no accident that the Department of Homeland Security published intelligence reports on journalists,” said Chairman Rose. “This shameful affair started at the top—as evidenced by the decision by senior leadership to remove the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties from reviewing the intelligence office’s work. It’s clear that this Administration cannot be trusted to act appropriately, so it’s time to codify real guardrails into law.”

“In recent weeks, we have seen the Department make mistake after mistake and an inability to follow simple standards to get its job done right,” added Chairman Thompson. “The Department must not be allowed to discontinue necessary and longstanding civil rights and civil liberties checks on what it shares with thousands of state and local enforcement partners.  Such checks are essential to guard against those who may want to subvert information sharing channels that were established in the wake of 9/11 for hollow, short-cited political ends. We must have proper checks in place in law to guard against abuses and acting political appointees, such as Mr. Cuccinelli, who might wish to circumvent this process.”

Link to bill text (updated)

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Press Contact

(Rose) Jonas Edwards-Jenks at 202-225-3371
(Thompson) Adam Comis at 202-225-9978