quote:The 258-page document implements the Attorney General’s Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations, the most recent version of which was issued late last year by former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey. For 33 years, the FBI's domestic surveillance activities have been conducted according to a set of guidelines promulgated and revised by successive Attorneys General. Initially crafted by Edward Levi in 1976, the first set of guidelines were put into place to curb the invasive techniques of the FBI's Counterintelligence Programs (“COINTELPRO”) of the 1960s and 1970s.
The Mukasey guidelines, among other things, gave the FBI the authority to open investigative “assessments” of any American without any factual predicate or suspicion. Such “assessments” allow the use of intrusive techniques to surreptitiously collect information on people suspected of no wrongdoing and no connection with any foreign entity. These inquiries may include the collection of information from online sources and commercial databases, and the use of grand jury subpoenas to obtain telephone and email subscriber information.
In light of the invasive techniques that can be used as part of an “assessment,” it is disturbing that large portions of Section 5 of the DIOG, which governs the conduct of “assessments,” has been blacked out by the FBI in the publicly accessible version of the guidelines. The withholding of this information is particularly troubling when the Bureau concedes in a released portion of the DIOG that “assessments” are undertaken with "no particular factual predication," a standard which the agency itself admits is "difficult to define." It is also notable that the FBI has withheld virtually all of the section of the DIOG (Section 16) that governs “undisclosed participation” by FBI agents and informants in political and civic organizations.