FBI changes and broaden rules

Discussion in 'Freedom and Liberty' started by eeyore, Oct 4, 2008.

  1. eeyore

    eeyore Monkey+++

    FBI's rules to treat threats as criminal
    Liberal groups fear abuses
    Associated Press
    Saturday, October 4, 2008
    The Bush administration issued new rules Friday designed to allow the FBI to pursue potential national security threats with the same vigor and techniques used against common criminals.

    The rules, to take effect Dec. 1, are a road map to the FBI's transformation, but liberal groups say the guidelines will come at a cost to constitutional protections.

    The bureau made its reputation many decades ago by successfully pursuing bank robbers, and the Justice Department says it wants to ensure that the FBI can now meet the biggest threats of the 21st century: national security and terrorism.

    The road map consolidates once-separate rules for assessing threats and investigating traditional crimes and terrorism. They tell FBI agents what they can and can't do, including when to conduct surveillance, use informants and consider race or ethnicity in determining whether someone is a suspect.

    Attorney General Michael Mukasey (pictured) and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III expressed in a joint statement their confidence in the FBI's new road map to pursue potential national security threats. (Associated Press)

    While some changes were made from preliminary rules shown to reporters, lawmakers and public interest organizations, the alterations were not enough to silence critics who say the FBI will now be able to begin investigating people with no indication they did anything wrong.

    Anticipating the criticism, Attorney General Michael Mukasey and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III issued a joint statement saying: "We are confident these guidelines will assist the FBI in carrying out its critical national security and foreign intelligence missions while also protecting privacy and civil liberties."

    Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was not reassured.

    "I am concerned that the guidelines continue the pattern of this administration of expanding authority to gather and use Americans' private information without protections for privacy or checks to prevent abuse and misuse," Mr. Leahy said.

    Three Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee asked the department to postpone the effective date until a new president takes office in January and has an opportunity to review the procedures.

    "Questions still remain about why there seems to be a rush to change these procedures in the last days of this administration," Reps. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, Robert C. Scott of Virginia, and Jerrold Nadler of New York said in a joint statement, adding that it was unclear whether the guidelines will result in FBI agents "monitoring the religious and political activities of innocent people."

    FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III (pictured) and Attorney General Michael Mukasey and expressed in a joint statement their confidence in the FBI's new road map to pursue potential national security threats. (Getty Images)

    Elisebeth Cook, chief of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy, said in an interview that several changes were made to accommodate critics' concerns and protect civil rights and liberties.

    "To say we're in a brave new world, and the FBI has new ability to investigate without evidence of wrongdoing is misunderstood," she said.

    Addressing concerns of racial profiling, Ms. Cook said race is only used as one factor in an investigation when it's relevant - such as describing a suspect.

    The guidelines cannot undercut any constitutional protections, state laws, executive orders or federal policies, she said.

    Among the changes between a preliminary draft and the final rules:

    • Investigations related to civil disorders now have a time limit of 30 days. The investigations are only to determine whether the president needs to use the military.

    • The guidelines "cut way back," Ms. Cook said, in the types of information that can be collected in cases of civil disorders. Only four techniques will be allowed: checking public records, FBI records, other government records and online sources. Any other methods would have to be approved by the attorney general or one of several top deputies who are confirmed by the Senate.

    • Language was added to say the FBI "shall" protect speech and practice of religious rights, instead of "should."
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  2. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Kinda makes you think that the donkeys are not so bad sometimes.
  3. BAT1

    BAT1 Cowboys know no fear

    The incremental creep into everyones privacy. Bill Maher look out. Does that put Obama on the list? Ennie mennie minnie mo. Neo cons or commies what more should we know?
  4. eeyore

    eeyore Monkey+++

    Democrats call for delay of new FBI authority
    Thursday, October 9, 2008
    Congressional Democrats are calling on the Bush administration to hold off implementing new rules that broaden the FBI's investigative authority until a new administration can approve them next year.

    "It is not appropriate for the current administration to make such sweeping changes to FBI procedures at this late date, only a month before the election," said Rep. John Conyers Jr., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, adding that the changes should be provided "as suggestions [for] the new administration to consider early next year."

    The new rules, which are scheduled to take effect Dec. 1, were published Friday after a contentious process during which the Justice Department engaged in what officials say was an unprecedented consultation effort to hear concerns from lawmakers and civil liberties advocates.

    Officials said Monday that the consultation had pushed back the schedule for implementation two months already and that because the rewrite had been initiated at the request of career FBI officials and not political appointees, no further delay would be appropriate.

    "The implementation date has been set," spokesman Brian Roehrkasse told United Press International. "It's December 1."

    The new rules are consolidated guidelines from the attorney general on the bureau's domestic operations, merging three previous sets of guidelines and providing for the first time a single set of rules governing the full gamut of FBI activities, from criminal investigations to counterintelligence operations and intelligence gathering about and assessment of national security threats.

    FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said the new guidelines "provide more uniform, clearer, and simpler rules" designed to help "the FBI to become, among other things, a more flexible and adept collector of intelligence," as recommended by the September 11 commission and the weapons of mass destruction commission.

    Robert S. Mueller III

    The guidelines govern the circumstances under which FBI agents are allowed to initiate certain activities - surveillance, for example, or public records searches - potentially bringing the bureau's extensive panoply of information-gathering capabilities to bear on a person or group.

    Critics said the new rules lower the bar for agents to target Americans too far.

    Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the rules give the bureau "broad new powers to conduct surveillance and use other intrusive investigative techniques on Americans without requiring any indication of wrongdoing or any approval even from FBI supervisors."

    Michael German, legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, said: "Not since J. Edgar Hoover ran the place has the FBI claimed the right to investigate American citizens without a factual predicate," calling it "extraordinarily dangerous."

    The guidelines redefine a category of FBI activity called "assessment," introduced in 2003 as a proactive effort by agents to identify potential terrorist threats or other dangers to national security.

    The new guidelines say assessments designed to lead to a criminal investigation can be undertaken without a factual predicate - evidence that a crime has been committed or is being planned - or approval from FBI supervisors, except under certain conditions.

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