F.B.I. Focusing on Security Over Ordinary Crime (nytimes.com)

August 23, 2011 12:00 am

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A New York Times Freedom of Information Act request revealed that the FBI opened assessments into 82,325 people over the last two years. Assessments are a form of investigation that FBI agents can engage in without any factual basis to suspect wrongdoing. This authority was given to the FBI by Attorney General Michael Mukasey in the final months of the Bush Administration. It allows FBI agents to search commercial and law enforcement databases, interview a person’s neighbors and work colleagues, recruit and task informants, and engage in physical surveillance of anyone the FBI chooses. Of the assessments opened, 73,920, or nearly 94% of them have been closed without developing any evidence to support further investigation. Yet the FBI keeps the information gathered on all individuals it conducts assessments on, even when there is no finding of wrongdoing.


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