April 2, 2002
Senator Tom Daschle
Senate Majority Leader,
509 Hart Building,
Washington, D.C. 20510-4103
Fax: (202) 224-2047
Senator Trent Lott
Senate Minority Leader
487 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2403
Fax: (202) 224-2262
Congressman Dan Burton,
Chair, House Committee on Government Reform
2185 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-1406
Fax: (202) 225-0016
Congressman Henry A. Waxman,
Ranking Member, House Committee on Government Reform
2204 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-0529
Fax: (202) 225-4099
Re: Public Oversight for Office of Homeland Security
Dear Senators Daschle and Lott and Representatives Burton and Waxman:
On March 20, 2002 the Electronic Privacy Information Center submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Office of Homeland Security requesting records concerning the agency’s efforts to develop a system of National identification. We asked for memos, talking points, reports and draft legislation that we believe to be in the possession of the agency.
We submitted this request because of the enormous implications for privacy and civil liberties in America if such a system were deployed, and because we believe that the Office of Homeland Security should be subject to the same open record laws that govern other federal agencies which engage in substantial policymaking. Despite a statutory obligation to render a decision on an expedition request within 10 days, the Office of Homeland Security has not responded to EPIC's request.
Today EPIC has filed suit in federal district court in Washington, DC. EPIC v. Office of Homeland Security, _____. We intend to pursue the case aggressively.
We share your concern that the significant new powers allocated to the Office of Homeland Security require meaningful public oversight. It is imperative that the Office of Homeland Security comply with the Freedom of Information Act, a law that helps ensure the preservation of open government and the protection of the constitutional values of the United States.
We will keep you informed about further developments in our case.
We would be pleased to speak with you or your staff regarding this matter. More information about the case may be found at our web site www.epic.org.