FBI doesn't understand the Constitution is Supreme Law of the LandSubmitted by pmpowell001 on Tue, 07/17/2012 - 15:11
The FBI once taught its agents that they can “bend or suspend the law ” as they wiretap suspects. But the bureau says it didn’t really mean it, and has now removed the document from its counterterrorism training curriculum, calling it an “imprecise” instruction. Which is a good thing, national security attorneys say, because the FBI’s contention that it can twist the law in pursuit of suspected terrorists is just wrong.
“Dismissing this statement as ‘imprecise’ is a rather unsatisfying response
given the very precise lines Congress and the courts have repeatedly drawn
between what is and is not permissible, even in counterterrorism cases, over
the past decade,” Steve Vladeck, a national-security law professor at American
University, says. “It might technically be true that the FBI has certain
authorities when conducting counterterrorism investigations that the
Constitution otherwise forbids, but that’s good only so far as it goes.”
The reference to law-bending was noted in a letter to FBI Director Robert
Mueller from Sen. Richard Durbin that Danger Room obtained . When Danger
Room asked for the original document, the FBI initially declined. On
Wednesday, a Bureau spokesperson relented, but refused to say who
prepared the document; how long it was in circulation; and how many FBI
agents, analysts and officials received its instruction.
The undated piece of instructional material (.pdf) notes that “under certain
circumstances, the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge
on the freedom of others.” Those circumstances include “the ability to gather
information on individuals which would normally be protected under the U.S.
Constitution through the use of FISA [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act], Title 3 monitoring [general law enforcement surveillance], NSL [National
Security Letter] reports, etc.”