WEEKLY MEDIA BRIEFING WITH ATTORNEY
GENERAL JANET RENO THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON, D.C. AUGUST 17, 2000 9:29 A.M. EDT THURSDAY
ATTY GEN. RENO: How are you?
Q Ms. Reno, you've been on the lookout for a university or similar institution to independently evaluate the Carnivore electronic intercept system. Have you chosen a university, or if you haven't, how far along in that process --
ATTY GEN. RENO: I have not been presented with a recommendation yet.
Q Ms. Reno, what's the feeling here about the court of appeals ruling two days ago on the CALEA issue? And number one, what is your feeling about the ruling in terms of CALEA? And secondly, what do your folks here think about the effect of the ruling on systems like Carnivore?
ATTY GEN. RENO: We are reviewing the decision, and I have not yet had a chance to see it, because I just returned late last night from the Dominican Republic for the inauguration of the new president, Mejia. As I understand it, we believe that we can demonstrate that these capabilities should be included in a revised FCC order and that the concerns of the court can be addressed.But I want to take time to today to see just exactly where we're at.
Q Steve Colgate has been telling everybody, "Oh, well, this wasn't a terrible loss. This just means that our paper was graded 'incomplete.'"
Why did you turn in an incomplete paper?
ATTY GEN. RENO: I heard his expression, and I didn't quite understand it, so I think I'll have to find out today what he was meaning.
Q How exactly is it possible to meet the burdens of the court of appeals standard while --
ATTY GEN. RENO: As I indicated, I have not yet read the opinion, and I want to take time today to understand exactly where we're at.
Q With regards to Carnivore, given the concerns that this appeals court ruling has for the information obtained via Carnivore, wouldn't it make sense to put it on hold pending the independent inquiry, rather than continue to deploy it?
ATTY GEN. RENO: What I'd like to do is to see exactly where we are today, talk with people who have been involved in the litigation, and see just what should be done.
Q Ms. Reno, the ruling upheld two provisions, one on antenna towers, the location of antenna towers, and the other on packet mode information.
The packet mode seems to be the most relevant to Carnivore. Is it possible that you look at this ruling as a victory for Carnivore rather than a defeat?
ATTY GEN. RENO: Well, again, I'm not going to jump to conclusions. Let me just see exactly where we're at first.
Q Also on Carnivore, on the Freedom of Information Act issue -- and I know that the department is litigating this, but why would the department release anything under the Freedom of Information Act, given that this is an investigative tool? Wouldn't it be covered under the exclusion for investigative material?
ATTY GEN. RENO: Now, you know that I've tried to be as open as possible. And if investigative materials are not in any way impaired, then we try to be, I think, open. But it's done according to FOIA, and we want to do it right.
Q According to the filing you made, or your department made in court, you say you'll release information within 45 days, and then each subsequent 45 days, you'll release information.Is there any end to this process, by which time you will release all information except --
ATTY GEN. RENO: I hope so.
Q When do you expect that that would be?
ATTY GEN. RENO: There are some 3,000 pages that we have got to go through, and we want to do it as expeditiously as possible, but we want to do it properly.
Q Ms. Reno, since there is now a delay in the CALEA standard because of the court decision, will you give telecom companies more time to comply? They have right now, I think -- they're supposed to comply within a year, and with the -- supposedly the punch list. But now the punch list has been questioned.
ATTY GEN. RENO: Here is what I want to do today, is to look at the opinion, talk with the people involved, and make appropriate decisions.
Q Can you tell us what's going on at the Croom (sp) detention center? Did you order a special investigation of allegations of rape?
ATTY GEN. RENO: What we are doing is pursuing the investigations of allegations of wrongdoing, through the Inspector General's Office, I believe the FBI is assisting as well, and the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida is pursuing it.
At the same time, I want to look at what can be done administratively and structurally to address on a permanent basis the issues with respect to Croom (sp).
Q Ms. Reno, have you received all the information that you're going to get prior to making a decision on whether to name a special counsel for the vice president?
ATTY GEN. RENO: I can't comment.
Q Ms. Reno, on the case of Raynard (sp) Jackson, the young man who was found dead hanging from a tree, Jesse Jackson and some others came and met with the department and with Eric Holder. Has the investigation concluded? Is it fair to say now that the federal investigators have determined that this was, in fact, a suicide?
ATTY GEN. RENO: I have not heard that a recommendation or a conclusion has been reached yet, but I will ask Myron or Carol to check and to furnish you with whatever information is available.
Q Ms. Reno, do you have any special thoughts on vacating this historic room?
ATTY GEN. RENO: I'm going to miss you all in this room. (Laughter.) Thursday mornings won't seem the same.
Q We'll follow you down the hall -- (inaudible). (Laughter).
Q We'll pitch in for coffee and pastry.
ATTY GEN. RENO: Well, that might be an appropriate way to -- so that people know what we're talking about, the Justice Building has been -- is in the process of being renovated, sections by sections, so that the southeast section has been almost completed, and we move in there next week. And this whole area, all the offices here, will be renovated.
And it's very interesting to watch the care an the thoughtfulness that the contractor and the architect have put into preserving the building as it was originally designed. And there are some marvelous pieces of artwork and thought that has gone into the design of this building.
If you haven't had a chance to take a look at it, you should.
Q Thank you.