FBI expands agents’ investigative power

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents — allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.

The FBI soon plans to issue a new edition of its manual, called the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, according to an official who has worked on the draft document and several others who have been briefed on its contents. The new rules add to several measures taken over the past decade to give agents more latitude as they search for signs of criminal or terrorist activity.

The FBI recently briefed several privacy advocates about the coming changes. Among them, Michael German, a former FBI agent who is now a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, argued it was unwise to further ease restrictions on agents’ power to use potentially intrusive techniques, especially if they lacked a firm reason to suspect someone of wrongdoing.

“Claiming additional authorities to investigate people only further raises the potential for abuse,” German said, pointing to complaints about the bureau’s surveillance of domestic political advocacy groups and mosques and to an inspector general’s findings in 2007 that the FBI had improperly used “national security letters” to obtain information like people’s phone bills.

GET MORE STORIES LIKE THIS

IN YOUR INBOX!

Sign up for our daily email and get the stories everyone is talking about.

Uncategorized

Previous post

Republican presidential contenders to debate

Next post

Rep. Ryan Op-ed: Obama's Economic Experiment Has Failed - Time to Get Back to What Works

Join the conversation!

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.