Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is grilling the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the FBI about each agency’s work with the Commerce Department’s Investigations and Threat Management Service (ITMS)—which has operated as a federal law enforcement and intelligence unit without legal authority.

Grassley is asking each agency to explain their collaborative or advisory relationship with ITMS in light of its “brazen use of false authority to conduct law enforcement and intelligence activity.” He is specifically seeking answers from the FBI about its “investigative and analytical” assistance to ITMS as well as its receipt of criminal referrals from the rogue entity. The senator is also asking why ITMS personnel were permitted by TSA to fly armed without a “flying-armed policy” and in violation of TSA regulations.

Grassley began looking into ITMS’ activities earlier this year following news reports, the release of information by the Senate Commerce Committee and concerns raised by whistleblowers. He sought information from the U.S. Marshals Service, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. The ICIG quickly responded. The senator this month received cursory or insufficient responses from FBI and ODNI.

The full text of Grassley’s letters are below:

The Honorable Christopher Wray
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation

Dear Director Wray:

On June 9, 2021, I wrote to you requesting information relating to the FBI’s relationship
with the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Investigations and Threat Management Service
(ITMS). As I noted in my letter, I am concerned about ITMS’s rogue intelligence and law
enforcement activity. On September 3, 2021, the DOC Office of General Counsel released a
report titled, “Report of the Programmatic Review of the Investigations and Threat Management
Service.”

In the report, the DOC found that ITMS did not possess adequate legal authority to
investigate an array of criminal activity it sought to address.

For example, ITMS neither had the authority to submit or execute search warrants nor conduct counterintelligence investigations, yet it did so anyway.

As a result of the totality of ITMS’s conduct, the DOC recommended the elimination of the entire ITMS unit and to redistribute the remaining responsibilities to other units within the DOC.

On August 27, 2021, you provided a response to my June 9, 2021, letter. In your letter,
you stated that the FBI participated in ITMS-led briefings “regarding ongoing cybersecurity
concerns and potential investigative cases” with respect to the 2020 Census. However, your
letter failed to provide any detail or context with respect to those concerns and cases. In
addition, your letter noted that the FBI provided “analytical and investigative assistance to
ITMS” but failed to provide any detail with respect to those efforts.

Moreover, your letter also noted that the FBI “passively receives criminal referrals from
ITMS” but failed to provide any documentation or information relating to those criminal
referrals.

In light of ITMS’s brazen use of false authority to conduct law enforcement and
intelligence activity and the clear relationship between the FBI and ITMS, please answer the
following no later than October 27, 2021:

  1. A list of all briefings FBI attended with ITMS relating to “ongoing cybersecurity
    concerns and potential investigative cases” with respect to the 2020 Census. In the
    list, please provide the date the briefing took place, the title, the subject matter to be
    discussed, attendees and all supporting documentation. If the FBI participated in
    briefings or similar activity with ITMS outside the scope of “ongoing cybersecurity
    concerns” and “potential investigative cases” relating to the 2020 Census please
    provide the same information.
  2. With respect to the FBI’s provision of “analytical and investigative assistance to
    ITMS,” please describe, in detail, what that assistance was for, when the assistance
    was provided, what assistance was provided and all supporting documentation.
  3. With respect to your statement that the FBI “passively receives criminal referrals
    from ITMS,” please describe the process and purpose for which FBI receives these
    “passive criminal referrals.” In addition, please provide a list of all criminal referrals,
    passive or otherwise, that ITMS provided to the FBI and a description of the activity
    that the FBI engaged in with respect to each referral.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley
Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary

The Honorable David P. Pekoske
Administrator
Transportation Security Administration

Dear Administrator Pekoske:

On August 2, 2021, I wrote a letter to the Department of Commerce (DOC) relating to
serious allegations of misconduct within the DOC’s Investigations and Threat Management
Service (ITMS). On September 3, 2021, the DOC Office of General Counsel responded to my
letter and also released a report titled, “Report of the Programmatic Review of the Investigations
and Threat Management Service.” In the report, the DOC found that ITMS did not possess
adequate legal authority to investigate an array of criminal activity it sought to address. For example, ITMS neither had the authority to submit or execute search warrants nor conduct
counterintelligence investigations, yet it did so anyway. As a result of the totality of ITMS’s
conduct, the DOC recommended the elimination of the entire ITMS unit and to redistribute the
remaining responsibilities to other units within the DOC.5

The DOC report also found that, based on a July 2019 report from the Department of
Commerce Inspector General (OIG), “ITMS agents flew armed without a required flying-armed
policy, in violation of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirements.” According
to the OIG, although ITMS did not have an official flying armed policy, it applied for and
received a Unique Flying Armed Number (UFAN) from the TSA. In addition to ITMS’s
apparent lack of qualification as a unit to fly armed, five out of the eleven ITMS “special agents”
did not complete the Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP) at the Federal Law
Enforcement Center (FLETC). According to the FLETC website, the CITP curriculum includes training identified as “TSA regulations: Flying Armed.”

As a general matter, in order to fly armed one must complete a TSA Flying Armed course. Accordingly, it appears that five agents may not have completed the training required to fly armed. Based on the available evidence, ITMS did not have a flying-armed policy and its agents failed to complete the necessary training to qualify for a UFAN; however, the TSA still provided one.

In light of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction over law enforcement and
intelligence activities and to better understand TSA’s role in this matter, please answer the
following questions no later than October 27, 2021:

  1. Please provide all records relating to the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA)
    relationship with the Department of Commerce’s Investigations and Threat Management
    Service (ITMS).
  2. How many UFAN applications did ITMS submit with TSA and who were they submitted
    for? How many of those applications were approved? Please provide all records relating
    to ITMS’s application and approval for a UFAN.
  3. Please provide documentation of all rules, regulations, and guidelines outlining how TSA
    processes applications for UFANs and how TSA verifies the accuracy of information
    provided.
  4. Before approving ITMS for a UFAN, was TSA aware that five ITMS employees had not
    received the training necessary to qualify for flying armed? Was TSA aware that ITMS
    did not have a valid “flying armed policy”? If so, why was ITMS approved for a UFAN?
  5. Please provide all records relating to Department of Commerce personnel flying armed.
    Please include names of the employees, carriers, dates of travel, flight numbers, departure
    locations, and destinations.
  6. Did TSA send any training materials to ITMS to review and complete? If so, when?
    Please provide all records that were sent to ITMS.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley
Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary

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