Wyden Letter to Customs and Border Protection
Apr. 7 2017 — 9:05p.m.
?nittd gurus ;%tnatt COMMITTEE ON FINANCE WASHINGTON, DC 20510?6200 April 7, 2017 Kevin K. McAleenan Acting Commissioner US. Customs and Border Protection 1300 Ave. NW Washington, DC 20229 Dear Acting Commissioner McAleenan: I am gravely alarmed by the summons that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) transmitted to Twitter on March 14, 2.017, regarding the Twitter account Not only was the summons blatantly inconsistent with the cited investigatory authority, section 509 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1509), but it appeared to be a disturbing threat to free speech and whistleblower protections. Notwithstanding the withdrawal of the summons on April 7, 201?, I request that you conduct an internal review into why and how CBP issued the summons and report on the results of that review. CBP has certain investigatory powers related to its enforcement of U.S. trade laws, but the summons at issue does not relate to such enforcement. I am a strong proponents of aggressive enforcement of our trade laws. Section 509 of the Tariff Act is among the important investigatory powers CBP uses to execute this critical function. Under that authority, CBP can issue a summons to parties who possess records related to the importation of merchandise into the United States to ensure that appropriate duties and fees have been paid and that all U.S. trade laws have been complied with. According to a complaint ?led by Twitter, the summons at issue requested that Twitter produce ?[a]11 records regarding the [T]witter account to include, User names, account login, phone number, mailng addresses, and LP. addresses.? The Twitter account currently describes itself as ?Immigration resistance . Team 2.0 1/2 Not the views of DHS or USCIS. Old fellow drank russian soup. #altgov." The account appears to comment on US. immigration policy and other current events, often critical of the current administration. On its face, request for information on the Twitter account appeared completely unrelated to the authority cited for the summons. Even more concerning is the possibility that CBP requested this information to learn if the accountholder(s) are employed by the Department of Homeland Security in order to take retaliatory action or otherwise squelch the exercise of First Amendment right to comment on U.S. policy, and to make those comments
anonymously. If that is the case, it raises serious concerns regarding potential violations of law that must be addressed by CBP. I know that you have long history of distinguished service in CBP and that you care about its integrity and mission. I hope that you will take swift action to investigate the circumstances that led to the issuance of the summons, including whether the decision involved executive branch of?cials outside of CBP. I look forward to discussing the results of that review. Sincerely, new?. Ron Wyden Ranking Member