The Security Scrutinizer with Howard Anderson

Governance , Privacy

Disputed GOP Memo Released: So Now What?

How Can Congress Monitor Justice Department Without a Political Battle?
Disputed GOP Memo Released: So Now What?
President Donald Trump cleared the way for GOP memo to be released.

The ongoing battle between the White House and the Justice Department and intelligence community could undermine American's confidence in the nation's top law enforcement officials.

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On Friday, House Republicans, with the approval of Donald Trump, released a disputed GOP intelligence memo that paints a picture of the FBI abusing its surveillance authority.

At the very least, the GOP and Democratic memos should have been released simultaneously so we could then reach our own conclusions, based on both sides of the story. 

The FBI had issued a warning on Wednesday that the memo omits key information that could impact its veracity. Meanwhile, House Democrats drafted another memo to refute the findings of the GOP memo. But Congress and the White House have yet to take action to make sure that second memo is released as well.

It's enough to make your head spin.

At a time when Americans are concerned about whether their data is safe from cybercriminals, not to mention whether their nation's electoral process is safe from foreign interference, our leaders are duking it out in the public arena regarding the trustworthiness of the FBI, the nation's leading law enforcement authority.

To release a brief GOP memo that offers a one-side summary of classified documents is irresponsible. At the very least, the GOP and Democratic memos should have been released simultaneously so we could then reach our own conclusions, based on both sides of the story.

Let's hope that in the week ahead, Congress and the White House take the necessary steps to clear a path for the Democratic memo to be released.

But over the long haul, there's a far bigger question that needs to be addressed, no matter what your political stripes: How do we go about repairing the reputation of our nation's leading law enforcement agency?

Surely, dueling Congressional memos isn't the best way to get to the bottom of whether the FBI broke any rules.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The FBI and the Justice Department say the GOP memo was inaccurate.

Democrats dismiss the memo as "profoundly misleading."

GOP Congressman Devin Nunes of California says the memo illustrates "serious violations of the public trust" by the FBI.

And President Trump says the memo reveals a political bias at the FBI that amounts to a "disgrace" and that certain people should be "ashamed of themselves."

Meanwhile, former FBI Director James Comey weighed in with a tweet sure to lead to even more debate.

So where do we go from here?

There has to be a much better way for Congress to appropriately monitor the activities of the Justice Department without the controversial and unprecedented move of releasing a previously classified memo prepared with a political agenda in mind.



About the Author

Howard Anderson

Howard Anderson

News Editor, ISMG

Anderson is news editor of Information Security Media Group and was founding editor of HealthcareInfoSecurity and DataBreachToday. He has more than 40 years of journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues. Before launching HealthcareInfoSecurity, he served as founding editor of Health Data Management magazine, where he worked for 17 years, and he served in leadership roles at several other healthcare magazines and newspapers.




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