New Broad FBI Surveillance Rules Are Unconstitutional

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

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

New Broad FBI Surveillance Rules Are Unconstitutional

WASHINGTON - The
FBI has released its Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide
(DIOG), an internal policy document that explains how FBI agents would
implement the unconstitutionally broad surveillance powers of the 2008
Mukasey Attorney General Guidelines (AGGs). One particularly bizarre
provision allows the FBI to violate the AGGs without approval from, or
notice to, the Attorney General. The DIOG, written on December 16,
2008, was released with heavy redactions late Friday as a result of a
Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Muslim Advocates.

The original Attorney General Guidelines
were adopted in the mid-1970’s to limit the FBI’s investigative
authority after it was discovered that the agency was engaged in
widespread abuses and violations of constitutional rights – including
politically-motivated spying on figures like Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mukasey’s 2008 AGGs are much broader and allow FBI agents to use paid
informants, spy on a person’s activities or engage in other types of
intrusive surveillance without “factual predication” – that is, without
probable cause or any evidence of wrongdoing.
 
The
American Civil Liberties Union is urging Congress to create a
legislative charter that prohibits the FBI from spying on innocent
Americans.
 
The following can be attributed to Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“It sets an extremely confusing and
dangerous precedent to create an ambiguous set of guidelines for
invasive surveillance of Americans and then grant the FBI the authority
to violate those guidelines unilaterally. We remain concerned that the
Mukasey Guidelines were written so broadly that they imposed
essentially no restrictions at all on FBI investigations, and now we
see the FBI has interpreted them in exactly the same way. Congress
needs to create a statutory framework that limits the FBI’s authority
to conduct investigations without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing as
soon as possible. The FBI has considerable authority – and a noted
history of abusing that authority. Its investigative powers must have
nothing less than clear, bright and easily understood boundaries.”

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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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