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Democrats Vote to Confirm Stalling, Anti-Transparency, Surveillance-Happy FBI Counsel as US District Judge

In 2009, we learned that of a newly-expanded FBI program in which its agents spy, often secretly, on American people and groups who are suspected of no crime whatsoever. Rather, people are targeted by the FBI for surveillance on the basis of their political opinions, their religion, and/or their race. At the time of this discovery, the FBI’s General Counsel declared that she was very upset — upset, that is, that people would use the phrase “spy agency” to refer to the FBI:

“I don’t like to think of us as a spy agency because that makes me really nervous. We don’t want to live in an environment where people in the United States think the government is spying on them. That’s an oppressive environment to live in and we don’t want to live that way.”

Who said this? Valerie Caproni.

In responding to the same revelations, the FBI General Counsel sniffed that in this day and age, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights “seriously miss the mark”:

Those who say the FBI should not collect information on a person or group unless there is a specific reason to suspect that the target is up to no good seriously miss the mark. The FBI has been told that we need to determine who poses a threat to the national security — not simply to investigate persons who have come onto our radar screen.”

Who said this? Valerie Caproni.

Who was behind the wheel of ensuring legality in surveillance when it turned out that the FBI had broken the law, declaring nonexistent “emergencies” in order to gain access to law-abiding citizens’ private information? Who laughed this off as a “good-hearted but not well-thought-out” misunderstanding?

Who? Valerie Caproni.

Who, fishing for an excuse to explain the FBI’s illegal practice of obtaining personal records without a warrant, tossed out the comment that the FBI was just so darned busy it understandably forgot to check the constitution? Who, when saying this, was the person at the FBI with the primary responsibility for ensuring constitutional conduct?

Who? Valerie Caproni.

In a quickie confirmation hearing last week, someone was castigated by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley for promising, then refusing, to turn over documentation regarding illegal FBI surveillance programs to the Senate Judiciary Committee:

I just wanted to set the record straight–again–before we vote on these nominations.

I also want to explain why I oppose the confirmation of Ms. Caproni . From 2003 to 2011, she served as the General Counsel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During that time, she was involved in the national security letters–NSL–program at the FBI. This program was the subject of a report by the Office of Inspector General–OIG–within the Department of Justice–DOJ, published in 2010.

In that report, the FBI was criticized for its role in the potential abuse by the FBI’s use of national security letters. The report also detailed her office’s knowledge of the use of exigent letters to short-circuit the NSL process. The IG also found problems regarding the inaccurate reporting of NSLs.

When the Committee reported out her nomination earlier this year, I voiced my concern over the fact that I had made a request to the FBI over 6 years ago, asking for documents regarding exigent letters.

In March 2007, Chairman Leahy and I requested copies of unclassified emails related to the use of national security letters issued by the FBI. I only received a few of these emails, and they were heavily redacted, so in 2008 I asked for the rest.

Ms. Caproni was general counsel of the FBI at the time and told me that the documents I was waiting for were on her desk, awaiting her review. Well, in 2013 as we approached her hearing, I still had not received those documents.

I asked Ms. Caproni about this in her hearing and she had no specific recollection of this request. So, I asked her again in writing. This led to a set of FOIA documents being produced, which are a poor substitute for properly answering a Committee request. It also raises further questions as to why it took 6 years and why Ms. Caproni told me years ago that she was working on responding to our request.

I subsequently followed up with the FBI with specific requests regarding Ms. Caproni’s involvement in the matter. The FBI has not responded to my requests.

Who stymied the Senate Judiciary Committee from obtaining oversight documents? Valerie Caproni.

Who was just confirmed as a federal district judge, with duties that, depending on her case selection, may include ruling on the constitutionality government programs that intrude on the liberty of law-abiding Americans? Valerie Caproni.

Was there a single Democratic senator who voted against the confirmation of Valerie Caproni as a U.S. District Judge? Yes — just oneSenator Jeff Merkley. Every other Democrat voted to confirm Caproni despite her troubling track record (24 Republican senators voted against her confirmation).

The next time a telemarketer calls me on the phone to ask me why I’m haven’t written a check today to support the Democratic Party, I’ll utter one name before I hang up: Valerie Caproni.

3 comments to Democrats Vote to Confirm Stalling, Anti-Transparency, Surveillance-Happy FBI Counsel as US District Judge

  • J Clifford

    Democrats keep excusing the terrible, anti-liberal record of Democratic politicians by warning that Republican politicians support terrible, anti-liberal policies. The Democrats have completely lost their credibility.

  • Tom

    I agree. In fact i’d go so far as to say that all but maybe 5% of the politicians in Washington are in fact corporately owned and lean more toward fascist Republican ideals than anything having to do with the Constitution. Politics is dead and won’t be brought back to the text-book version in our lifetimes.

    “So long and thanks for all the fish!”

  • Jim Cook

    I’m not sure the text-book version ever was.

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