Originally published July 25 2013
Top FBI abuses of Americans since 9/11
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) As the constitutional abuses emanating from the White House pile up - misuse of presidential authority; the ordering of spying on Americans; a president's refusal to enforce duly passed laws, among others - the nation's top law enforcement agency has been piling up a string of improper activity itself. Here are some of the most invasive, in no particular order:
Broad data mining and collection -- By now, most Americans are aware that part of the government's massive spying on Americans has also involved broad data mining and collection of our personal information. The FBI has said it retains the authority to scoop up every bit of data on Americans it can dredge up, using data aggregators. As early as 2007, the agency began its data-mining operations using programs that were "billed as a tool for hunting terrorists is being used in hacker and domestic criminal investigations," according to Wired.com. The effort led to the formation of a database containing records on a staggering 1.5 billion people - records on "citizens and foreigners," according to Wired.com. While that program was defunded temporarily, it was replaced by the FBI Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, which currently has 360 staff members.
Abuses of the USA Patriot Act -- The FBI has been improperly "authorized," via the Patriot Act, to do a number of things that, under every prior circumstance, would simply be unconstitutional. The agency's use of the Act's "business records provision" to track domestic phone calls is only the most recent in a string of abuses dating back to the Act's passage in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. In fact, five Justice Department inspector general audits have documented widespread FBI abuses, under the guise of authority granted via the Patriot Act, InfoWars.com has noted. "The IG also revealed the FBI's unlawful use of "exigent letters" that claimed false emergencies to get private information without NSLs, but in 2009 the Justice Department secretly re-interpreted the law to allow the FBI to get this information without emergencies or legal process," the website reported.
Amendments to AG guidelines - 2008 -- In the final months of the Bush administration, Attorney General Michael Mukasey re-crafted its rules, essentially granted agents carte blanche authority to investigate Americans without reasonable suspicion. The rewritten 2008 rules, a new "assessment" authority was created, which did not require "factual predicate" before agents could search governmental and commercial databases, conduct overt and/or covert interviews, and task informants to gather information on people, InfoWars.com said. "Under the new 'assessment' authority, FBI agents can investigate anyone they choose, so long as they claim they are acting to prevent crime, protect national security, or collect foreign intelligence, with absolutely no requirement of a factual connection between their authorizing purpose and the conduct of the individuals they are investigating," the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement.
Racial and ethnic profiling -- Those same 2008 AG guidelines also granted the FBI authority to conduct "domain management assessments," allowing the agency to map U.S. communities by race and ethnicity based on stereotypes. Entire ethnic neighborhoods were "mapped," in fact: Latino communities in New Jersey and Alabama, because street gangs have Latino members; Russian and Chinese communities in San Francisco based on past associations with organized crime; Middle Eastern communities in Detroit because of Islamist connections to terrorism, etc.
Targeting whistleblowers -- Most Americans don't know it, but the FBI is exempt from the Whistleblower Protection Act and the agency is using that exemption to its advantage. The law did require the agency to establish internal protections to protect whistleblowers, but at the same time the FBI has an established history of retaliation against them. "The FBI has also aggressively investigated whistleblowers from other agencies, leading to an unprecedented increase in Espionage Act prosecutions under the Obama administration, almost invariably targeting critics of government policies," InfoWars.com reports.
Targeting reporters -- Granted, some high-profile, classified information has been leaked to the press and such leaks have, to some degree, harmed U.S. national security. But the fact that the FBI has been used to actually target American journalists broadly is constitutionally chilling. Most recently the FBI improperly obtained records from 21 phone lines used by more than 100 Associated Press writers and editors, as well as another Fox News journalist, in connection with a leak investigation. In 2010, the Justice Department IG released a report stating the FBI obtained phone records using an "exigent letter" as justification from seven Washington Post and New York Times reporters.
Targeting the First Amendment -- The ACLU has uncovered substantial evidence that the FBI has used expanded authority to target groups and individuals simply for exercising their First Amendment rights. "A 2010 IG report confirmed the FBI conducted inappropriate investigations of domestic advocacy groups engaged in environmental and anti-war activism, and falsified public responses to hide this fact. Other FBI documents showed FBI exploitation of community outreach programs to secretly collect information about law-abiding citizens, including a mosque outreach program specifically targeting American Muslims," InfoWars.com notes.
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