A Senate report on a little-known security unit in the Commerce Department found thousands of improper investigations into its own employees over 10 years, with many targeting Chinese and Middle Eastern officials. The report, released by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), the ranking member on the Commerce Committee, said officials in the Investigations and Threat Management Service would racially profile some of its own employees in dubious investigations, sometimes breaking into their offices to conduct their investigation. The goal was usually to weed out foreign spies, though it often escalated that mission in shady ways, including by snooping employees’ emails and noting “ethnic surnames” when conducting background checks.
The report was based on testimony from more than 24 whistleblowers. “Combating national security threats posed by China should be a priority for any agency, but that does not give the federal government a license to disregard the law,” Wicker said in a statement to The New York Times. “Abuse of authority and race-based targeting is unacceptable, especially in law enforcement.”