11/02/2008

Pointing the US Surveillance Apparatus at the American People

Do you "pal around with terrorists"? Are you a "radical" or express views that the government considers "extremist"?

On October 28, the whistleblowing website Cryptome published the FBI Directorate of Intelligence: Counterterrorism Division's Counterterrorism Analytical Lexicon. This eye-opening "Unclassified/For Official Use Only" (U/FOUO) document purports "to standardize terms used in the FBI analytical products dealing with counterterrorism."

But what it does instead, in keeping with the FBI's insatiable appetite for "actionable intelligence product," is create new categories of individuals who might fall under the purview of state "counterterrorism" investigations.

Right up front the Bureau informs us that the definitions used in the lexicon, "do not supercede those in the Department of Justice National Foreign Intelligence Program Manual (NFIPM), the Attorney General Guidelines, the National Implementation Plan for the War on Terror, or any US government statute."

That covers a lot and ground and can hide much in the way of government mischief, particularly when new guidelines issued by U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey permit broad, intrusive investigations by FBI snoops. As the Washington Post reported in early October,

The new road map allows investigators to recruit informants, employ physical surveillance and conduct interviews in which agents disguise their identities in an effort to assess national security threats. FBI agents could pursue each of those steps without any single fact indicating a person has ties to a terrorist organization. (Carrie Johnson, "Guidelines Expand FBI's Surveillance Powers," The Washington Post, Saturday, October 4, 2008; A03)

In response, the American Civil Liberties Union warned that,
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