Leahy wants change in tactics from FBI, DEA

The head of the Senate Judiciary Committee is “increasingly concerned” with the way that federal agents are carrying out investigations, he told Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday.

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House Overnight Defense: Trump says he doesn't need exit strategy with Iran | McConnell open to vote on Iran war authorization | Senate panel advances bill to restrict emergency arms sales Senate panel advances bill to restrict emergency arms sales MORE (D-Vt.) wrote to Holder in response to news that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) used a woman’s identity to create a Facebook profile without her knowledge and that the FBI planted a fake Associated Press article on a phony Seattle Times website.


“Such tactics carry ethical and legal risks,” the longtime senator told Holder.

“Tactics such as these may ultimately prove counter-productive if they erode the public’s trust in the judgment and integrity of law enforcement officers.”

Leahy has previously criticized the DEA for its creation of a fake Facebook account — complete with a the woman's real photos — to communicate with people.

Last week, he said that the agency should ban such investigative practices because they are “unethical” and “potentially dangerous.”

On Thursday, he also said that officials should commit not to impersonate news organizations, days after news emerged that the FBI used a fake AP story to insert a bug into the computer of a teenager suspected of calling in bomb threats at their school.

The woman whose identity was used on Facebook could be put “at risk without her consent,” Leahy warned.

The use of fake newspaper stories, meanwhile, “raises questions of copyright and trademark infringement,” he wrote, and “potentially undermines the integrity and credibility of an independent press.”

After reports emerged about the fake news stories earlier this week, editors at both the AP and The Seattle Times expressed outrage at the tactic. 

In his letter, Leagy noted that news about the controversial investigations come as the FBI is seeking to expand its ability to hack into people’s computers. Next week, a number of privacy and technology advocates will appear at a hearing to oppose the bureau’s plan, which would allow the agency to target computers that it cannot physically locate. 

The recent stories are not helping the FBI’s case in that matter, Leahy indicated.