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BlueJessamine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-28-09 01:07 PM
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Bush-Era Rule Grants FBI Unprecedented Investigative Powers

Bush-Era Rule Grants FBI Unprecedented Investigative Powers

FBI Authority Extends Even to Those Not Suspected of Criminal Activity

by Daphne Eviatar

The Washington Independent

Veterans groups and conservatives roared last week when news broke that the FBI was targeting veterans in a broad probe of extremist groups. But little noise was made in December, when the Bush administration quietly granted the FBI wide-ranging authority to investigate individuals or groups, regardless of whether they are suspected of criminal activity.

The Attorney General Guidelines, proposed last summer and adopted by Attorney General Michael Mukasey, appear to be particularly problematic. Although in the past these guidelines required that the FBI have at least some factual basis for believing that the target of an investigation was engaged in criminal activity, in December 2008, Mukasey instituted new guidelines that authorized the FBI to conduct assessments of suspects without requiring any factual basis for suspicion.

Specifically, the Mukasey guidelines, purportedly to prevent future terrorist acts against the American people, allow the FBI to use physical surveillance; interview a persons neighbors, landlord, colleagues or friends; recruit and assign informants to attend political or other meetings under false pretenses essentially to act as an undercover spy; and to retrieve personal data from commercial databases; all without having a factual basis to believe that the target of the investigation has done anything wrong.

Im a former FBI agent and I can tell you its beyond bizarre, said Michael German, policy counsel on National Security, Immigration and Privacy with the American Civil Liberties Union, and a 16-year veteran of the FBI.

The Attorney General Guidelines were first created in 1976 in the wake of the revelation of intelligence and law enforcement abuses during the Watergate era and revealed by the Church Committee. The guidelines always required articulable facts to support a reasonable suspicion that someone was violating the law, said German. Thats a very low standard.

Ms. Eviatar's article continues here:
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napoleon_in_rags Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-28-09 01:16 PM
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1. I hate the message it sends.
Edited on Tue Apr-28-09 01:19 PM by napoleon_in_rags
Nobody wants to be investigated, because having the FBI interview your neighbors and colleagues is actually a punitive thing, it damages you. But there is no guidelines of what you have to do to avoid investigation; obeying the law is not enough. Rather, we become aware of this other standard, this secret standard, which protects some and opens others to investigation. And we speculate about what that might be, filling in the gaps with out minds. The end result is a world where avoiding punishment from the government is a matter of some guesswork.
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