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US Reps vote for Carnivore oversight

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A bill by US Representative Bob Barr (Republican, Georgia), called the Department of Justice reauthorization bill (HR-2215), sailed through the House late Monday, strengthening the possibility that the FBI will finally be brought to heel by Congress.

Several recent, highly-publicized FBI debacles starting with the controversy over Carnivore, and including capture of double agent Robert Hanssen, the failure to disclose thousands of pages of evidence related to the case against Timothy McVeigh, and the very recent discovery that scores of laptops and firearms have been missing for years, have finally made it impossible for Congress to continue politely looking the other way while the Bureau disgraces itself.

"These problems cry out for attention," House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (Republican, Wisconsin) said on the House floor Monday in support of the bill. "I believe there needs to be one person in the [DoJ] inspector general's office whose sole purpose is to review FBI operations."

There's a lot that Congress is concerned about here, but Carnivore (now called DCS-1000 thanks to media snickering) figures large in Barr's amendment. Thus the Attorney General will be compelled to disclose to Congress at the end of FY 2001 and 2002 the number of times Carnivore has been used; by whom its use was approved; the approval criteria; the court that authorized each use; and any information gathered or accessed that was not authorized by a court.

The amendment will contribute an additional $10 million to expand the DoJ's inspector general's office, specifically to keep tabs on the FBI as Sensenbrenner mentioned. It now moves to the Senate for further consideration. ®

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