ICE, CBP Want To Sit With The Adults, Angling For Entrance Into The Intelligence Community
from the all-about-foreigners-but-operating-domestically dept
Has the DHS been trying to put the “IC” in ICE? A letter reviewed by Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast seems to indicate ICE is possibly now part of the “Intelligence Community,” bringing it in line with the FBI, CIA, and others who have access to the NSA’s collections.
The revelation came in a letter that David Glawe, DHS’ undersecretary for intelligence and analysis, wrote to Congress late last year. This letter, the contents of which have not been previously reported, sheds new light on ICE’s relationship with the 17 U.S. government organizations that collect and analyze intelligence, known collectively as the Intelligence Community or IC.
It’s no secret ICE wants in. Previous reporting by The Daily Beast shows ICE and CBP both felt they had something to offer the Intelligence Community. Both agencies collect a lot of data on travelers and visitors, and the latter agency is cloning the contents of electronic devices (phones, laptops, etc.) with increasing frequency.
This attempt to cozy up to the IC was noticed by members of Congress, who asked for clarification on ICE’s intents and partnerships. This led to a letter from David Glawe the Beast reviewed — sent late last year — claiming ICE’s application for membership had been declined.
“The Secretary of Homeland Security and I agree that this is not the right time to pursue potential IC membership for CBP and ICE,” he wrote.
That’s what part of the letter states. The rest of it, however, isn’t nearly as clear. As Woodruff points out, Glawe’s answer is filled with jargon, making it difficult to parse ICE/CBP’s links to the IC. But there’s enough contained in the letter to make it appear as though ICE/CBP are doing exactly the thing David Glawe says they’re not doing. The letter refers to ICE’s “enhanced intelligence capabilities,” which include “collection.” This could be referring to some unreported programs ICE is running or new tech it’s deployed. But it also could mean what it says literally: that ICE is tapping into the IC’s collections.
This densely-worded flow of contradictions has raised concerns in the civil liberties community. (It should raise concerns elsewhere, but it almost always starts here.) What it sounds like is potentially-unlawful domestic surveillance.
“I’m curious about the phrases ‘fuses intelligence into operational functions’ and ‘activities to inform actions,’ which sound like there is some type of information sharing arrangement going on,” said Jake Laperruque, a lawyer for the Project on Government Oversight who focuses on privacy and surveillance. “If information is coming from PATRIOT Act Sec. 215 or FISA Section 702, that would be a huge controversy.”
Domestic surveillance in the interest of enforcing immigration laws would be a new twist on an old formula. Other IC components already have access to NSA data stores, which allow them to perform backdoor searches on domestic data and communications. ICE operates domestically but targets foreign persons here unlawfully. That novel blend will make blurring the lines on access to domestic communications and data that much easier.
Added to this mix is the CBP’s newfound enthusiasm for demanding social media account passwords and performing forensic searches of electronic devices. These two initiatives routinely ensnare US citizens and others here legally. With an IC partnership, domestic surveillance would expand — all under the theory that anything shared will result in better national security.
The Daily Beast has asked the DHS for clarification on the data collection it already performs as well as its “enhanced capabilities” via its connection to the Intelligence Community. The agency has yet to comment on Glawe’s cryptic, but worrisome, response to Congressional questions. There’s a good chance any answers provided will be just as cryptic and/or composed mainly of non-denial denials. This administration has made border security a priority. This is the ideal environment for expanding the IC to include immigration agencies. And once they’re in, they’ll stay in, no matter who’s running the White House in the future.