FBI Director Mueller To Testify Before Congress Today

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org

FBI Director Mueller To Testify Before Congress Today

ACLU Asks House Committee To Question Mueller On Civil Liberties Issues Including Torture And Surveillance

WASHINGTON - FBI
Director Robert Mueller will testify before the House Judiciary
Committee today in a general oversight hearing on matters including his
agency’s role in the torture of detainees, a bloated terrorist
watchlist and recent changes to guidelines that outline FBI agents’
ability to conduct surveillance on Americans who are not suspected of
wrongdoing.

 
“The
confusion surrounding the FBI’s role in torture is a huge cause for
concern,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington
Legislative Office. “Add to that an inflated watchlist that carries the
names of thousands of innocent Americans and new surveillance
guidelines that don’t pass constitutional muster and, frankly, Director
Mueller has some explaining to do.”
 
Last
week, the Senate heard from former FBI agent Ali Soufan who testified
that after CIA contractors began using abusive interrogation techniques
on Abu Zubaydah in the summer of 2002, Director Mueller ordered FBI
agents not to engage in such abuse. But according to the Department of
Justice Inspector General’s report regarding the FBI’s involvement in
detainee interrogations in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Afghanistan, and Iraq,
the FBI did not issue written guidance until May 2004. It has been
widely reported that after detainees were harshly interrogated by the
CIA, the FBI would then send in a "clean team" to obtain the evidence
that was already beaten out of the witness in a more legally acceptable
fashion.
 
Also
of concern are recent changes to the attorney general guidelines that
allow the FBI to conduct investigations of American citizens and legal
residents, called “assessments,” without any evidence of
wrongdoing. The changes, put into place last December, allow
surveillance suspiciously similar to the FBI's previous domestic spying
program known as COINTELPRO, which was used throughout the 1950s and
60s to monitor and disrupt groups suspected of having “communist” ties,
which included university professors, labor groups and civil rights
advocates including the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. These changes
could open the door to racial profiling as someone’s race, religion or
ethnic background could be used as a significant factor in opening an
investigation.
 
“The
original attorney general guidelines were put into place after the FBI
abused its authority and, with these recent changes, the bureau
effectively nullified the protections those guidelines once offered,”
said Fredrickson. “These revised guidelines have been in place for
nearly six months and we’ve yet to receive real answers on their use
and efficacy. Given the notoriously poor internal oversight at the
bureau, we hope that Congress will use this opportunity to push
Director Mueller beyond the talking points to get some real answers.”
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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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