FBI's Power Must Be Reduced, Says ACLU

James ComeyFBIThe American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a report today criticizing the scope of power of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and calling upon the federal government to curb the bureau.

“Congress must do a top-to-bottom review of FBI politics and practices to identify and curtail any activities that are unconstitutional or easily misused. The time for wholesale reform has come,” said the ACLU’s National Security Project director, Hina Shamsi.

Forbes' Andy Greenberg acknowledges that “the ACLU’s renewed focus on the FBI may seem strange given the recent string of bombshell leaks about the NSA,” but points out that the NSA's collection of data “has only been possible because of the FBI’s powers to secretly demand that phone companies turn over that data.”

The ACLU sees potential in new leadership. The recent appointment of James Comey as Director of the FBI marks “the first change in leadership at the bureau since the 9/11 attacks.” Though, as Nick Gillespie previously pointed out, Comey has a mixed record on upholding rights. The ACLU believes that the Obama Administration and the Congress must use this change in leadership "to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the FBI’s post-9/11 policies and programs.”

The 63-page report, titled “Unleashed and Unaccountable: The FBI’s Unchecked Abuse of Authority,” also contends that the post-9/11 policies of the bureaucratic outfit have been detrimental to innocent citizens and the integrity of the law.

The FBI has “unprecedented power and international reach” thanks to the Patriot Act and FISA Amendment Acts, which have led to “a record of extraordinary abuse—particularly targeting racial and religious minorities, immigrants, and protest groups under the guise of counterterrorism,” argues the ACLU. Questionable practices include wiretapping, collecting emails, mapping and profiling communities based on ethnicity and race, and infiltrating peace-activist groups.

Additionally, the ACLU argues that the bureau does itself a disfavor by collecting massive quantities of data on average Americans. The amount is overwhelming and impossible to sift through, so the FBI is unable to pursue actual criminals. The report points out that numerous terrorists, including Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Bomber, were at some point interrogated but ultimately never stopped from committing crimes. According to the report, “Tsarnaev was one of over 1,000 assessments the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force completed in 2011 alone,” leaving the FBI resources stretched and unable to recognize him as a real threat.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    They want to shut down the X-Files. WHAT ARE THEY TRYING TO HIDE?

    Also, isn't the DEA a more out of control federal law enforcement agency at this point? Or maybe the IRS?

  • ||

    Do we have to choose just one Federal program to scale back?

    I will say the DEA has a delightful combination of having some of the most overreaching domestic spying AND least sympathetic justification for its existence.

    We need 26 years of phone records OR ELSE BATHSALTS!

  • Paul.||

    BATFELOLWTFZOMG is at least as out of control as the EPA.

  • grey||

    Very right FoE, so off with all their heads! Ooops, I mean off with their budgets!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Sequester attack!

  • ||

    The circuits that cannot be cut are cut automatically in response to a terrorist incident. You ask for miracles, Theo...I give you the FBI.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The whole government needs to be cut back.

  • kinnath||

    cut back to a miserable little stump

  • Brett L||

    I'm sure its like my crepe myrtles. It just comes back again and sends out runners.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Pure, cleansing fire.

  • kinnath||

    it is a never-ending job to keep it in check

  • kinnath||

    it is a never-ending job to keep it in check

  • kinnath||

    3rd time today -- fuck the skwirls

  • kinnath||

    3rd time today -- fuck the skwirls

  • kinnath||

    Alanis, this is irony

  • Paul.||

    So, not finding a spoon when all you need is a knife?

  • Hyperion||

    Plant some bamboo to choke them out, that will do the trick. If that doesn't work, add some Kudzu to the mix.

  • Brett L||

    Thanks. My neighbors will love you.

  • Brett L||

    Neighbors. What a funny name. I wonder if that used to apply to anyone who lived within earshot of each other's horses.

  • some guy||

    Kudzu is the real Devil's Weed, as anyone who's driven through the South can tell you. I swear that stuff can fill any empty space in a season if left untended. It's like those sunflowers from Ringworld, only without the ability to shoot down aircraft.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Also rasberries or mint are nice counter agents.

  • ||

    Trumpet vines will strangle 'em too.

  • BakedPenguin||

    No shit.

  • Paul.||

    FBI's Power Must Be Reduced, Says ACLU

    So the ACLU is agitating for deregulation and cuts.

    Okayyyy.

  • Hyperion||

    We want really, REALLY HUGE, ENORMOUS, EXPANSIVE, NEVER ENDING government!

    Except when we don't want it.

  • R C Dean||

    You left out THROBBING.

  • Brett L||

    does itself a disfavor

    Intern, never use this phrase again. This is not the opposite of "does itself a favor", nor is it another way of saying "does itself a disservice". The closest way to use favor in place of service in the previous construction is: "does itself no favors".

    /rant

  • Pro Libertate||

    Disflavor should be a word.

  • Brett L||

    Only if used to describe when every Congresscritter has to piss in an unpopular bill such that they can bear to swallow the results and vote for it.

  • Pro Libertate||

    "He's in great disflavor."

  • Brett L||

    He's in great disfavor, so he won't get to disflavor the defense allocation bill.

    (See: disfavor is a state of being, while favor can be a state or a more active verb.)

  • Pro Libertate||

    I read somewhere that Katy Perry doesn't like the taste of sailors. Or something.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Well that's her loss.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Her parents must be so proud.

  • kinnath||

    real alt text:

    Grinning Orangutan

  • Brett L||

    He looks like the love child of R. Lee Emry and Terry Bowden.

  • Tonio||

    R. Lee Emry

    Brett did you have the same spelling teacher as John and Zenon?

  • Brett L||

    Nah, just can't be arsed to look him up. I got the r and m backwards, didn't I?

  • Hyperion||

    Who is responsible for turning the ACLU into a bunch of government hating baggers?

    Must have been one of those racist Pauls being controlled by the Kochtopus.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I confess, it was me.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    The American Civil Liberties Union (UCLA) released a report today

    WHICH IS IT, INTERN?!

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Well now I've been denied an editing hat-tip. Shades of Weigel, so it is.

  • Tonio||

    Mr. Bailey is a real gent, he is. Says ta and everything.

  • ||

    Thank you, Mr. Kochtopus.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    You're welcome!

  • Tonio||

    Well, at least you beat me to it, NK. That's something.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Now we know how to get what we want around here - just tell the Reasonista he's acting like Weigel. OH HELL NAW

  • ||

    Since when did the ACLU care about civil liberties?

  • Paul.||

    When it involved abortion and to a limited degree, the first amendment. The latter, much to the chagrin of its members.

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