[badgerstatevolunteers] And so it continues

  • From: kevin Joyner <joynerkev@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: badger-state-volunteers@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, badgerstatevolunteers@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2011 12:52:22 -0500


The New Powers the FBI Just Granted Itself
Adam Martin – Mon Jun 13, 10:15 am ET

The Federal Bureau of Investigations has rewritten its own operations
giving its agents more autonomy than ever to conduct low-level searches
without a paper trail. As *The New York Times* reported today, there's no
court decision or change in privacy laws governing the bureau's search
techniques. Rather, the 2011 update to the 2008 Domestic Investigations and
the bureau's own guidelines. But some of the new powers trouble privacy
activists even though they're perfectly legal. Here's what FBI agents will
be allowed to do under the new guidelines:

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*Undocumented database searches:* Right now, agents can search commercial
and law enforcement databases for any individual or organization they want,
even without real evidence of wrongdoing, but they must officially open a
so-called assessment inquiry. "Under the new rules, agents will be allowed
to search such databases without making a record about their decision," *The
Times* reports. ACLU lawyer and former FBI agent Michael German said that
would make it "harder to detect and deter inappropriate use of databases for
personal purposes," but Valerie Caproni, the FBI's general counsel, "said it
was too cumbersome to require agents to open formal inquiries before running
quick checks."

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*Lie-detector tests:* Under the current rulebook, agents can't administer a
lie-detector test until they open a "preliminary investigation," which
requires a factual basis for suspected wrongdoing (unlike the assessment).
The new rules will allow agents to use lie-detector tests not just on
suspects, but on potential informants, in an investigation considered an

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*Trash searches: *Similar to the relaxed restriction on lie-detector tests,
agents will be able to search the trash of a potential informant as part of
an assessment. "Agents have asked for that power in part because they want
the ability to use information found in a subject’s trash to put pressure on
that person to assist the government in the investigation of others. But Ms.
Caproni said information gathered that way could also be useful for other
reasons, like determining whether the subject might pose a threat to

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*Surveillance squads:* The current guidelines stipulate that these highly
trained squads can only be used on a target once during an assessment. The
new rules would allow them to be used multiple times, but keep in place
limits on the duration of physical surveillance. Caproni told *The Times* that
overuse of the squads would be curbed because of tight resources at the

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*"Undisclosed participation" in organizations:* The special rules governing
agents' and informants' attendance of meetings and surreptitious
participation in organizations on which they are gathering information
haven't been  made public. But the new rules clearly state that agents or
informants can freely attend five meetings of an organization before those
rules apply.

*Authorizing informants at religious ceremonies: *In this case, the FBI
tightened its restrictions: "Currently, a special agent in charge of a field
office can delegate the authority to approve sending an informant to a
religious service. The new manual will require such officials to handle
those decisions personally."

*Investigating public officials:* Some investigations, including those into
public officials, are considered sensitive and call for additional
oversight. Under the new rules, investigations into public officials, if the
official is a victim or a witness rather than the target of an
investigation, the additional oversight won't be called for. "Also excluded
from extra supervision will be investigations of low- and midlevel officials
for activities unrelated to their position — like drug cases as opposed to
corruption, for example."

*Investigating scholars and members of the news media:* Investigations into
members of the press and academic scholars are also considered sensitive,
and call for extra supervisions. The new rules make a distinction between
bloggers as members of the press: "Prominent bloggers would count, but not
people who have low-profile blogs," but the details of that distinction are
unclear. The new rules also "limit academic protections only to scholars who
work for institutions based in the United States."

Kevin J
“Far Better it is to Dare Mighty Things than to take rank with those poor,
timid spirits Who know Neither Victory nor Defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt

"I was not delivered unto this world in defeat,
nor does failure course in my veins. I am not a
sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd. I
am a lion and I refuse to talk, to walk, to sleep
with the sheep. I will hear not those who weep
and complain, for their disease is contagious. Let
them join the sheep. The slaughterhouse of failure
is not my destiny.

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