On September 4, 2013, James B. Comey was sworn in as the 7th director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Comey is taking the helm of an agency that has been radically transformed during the 12-year term of Director Robert S. Mueller, III, into a domestic intelligence and law enforcement agency of unprecedented power and international reach.
The FBI remains widely admired on Capitol Hill and within the Obama administration, despite a record of extraordinary abuse—particularly targeting racial and religious minorities, immigrants, and protest groups under the guise of counterterrorism after 9/11.
The abuse, enabled by a roll-back of post-Watergate intelligence reforms and encouraged by long-standing Justice Department and FBI practices, has subverted internal and external oversight by squelching whistleblowers, imposing and enforcing unnecessary secrecy, and actively misleading Congress and the American people.
Unleashed and Unaccountable: The FBI's Unchecked Abuse of Authority documents this extraordinary expansion of FBI power over the last 12 years.
As Comey's tenure begins at the FBI, Congress and the president should take this opportunity to conduct a comprehensive examination of the FBI's policies and practices to identify and curtail any activities that are unnecessary, ineffective, or misused. Otherwise, FBI officials and certain members of Congress will undoubtedly demand that the new director stay the course, no matter how disastrous it may be for American civil liberties and privacy rights.
By exposing and documenting these errors and abuses in a comprehensive manner and offering recommendations to ensure the FBI respects civil liberties and civil rights, Unleashed and Unaccountable establishes a foundation for reform.