Currently reading the articles, but there is a lot of incredibly concerning programs, loopholes, and assessments in this.President Trump has inherited a vast domestic intelligence agency with extraordinary secret powers. A cache of documents offers a rare window into the FBI’s quiet expansion since 9/11.
After the famous Church Committee hearings in the 1970s exposed the FBI’s wild overreach, reforms were enacted to protect civil liberties. But in recent years, the bureau has substantially revised those rules with very little public scrutiny. That’s why The Intercept is publishing this special package of articles based on three internal FBI manuals that we exclusively obtained.
These stories illuminate how the FBI views its authority to assess terrorism suspects, recruit informants, spy on university organizations, infiltrate online chat rooms, peer through the walls of private homes, and more.
In addition to the articles collected here — which include nine new pieces and two that we previously published based on the same source material — we have annotated the manuals to highlight what we found most newsworthy in them. We redacted the sections that could be used to identify individuals or systems for the purpose of causing harm. We’re presenting the stories alongside the manuals because we believe the public has a right to know how the U.S. government’s leading domestic law enforcement agency understands and wields its enormous power.
The FBI has Quietly Investigated White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement
Based on a Vague Tip the Feds Can Surveil Anyone"White supremacists and other domestic extremists maintain an active presence in U.S. police departments and other law enforcement agencies. A striking reference to that conclusion, notable for its confidence and the policy prescriptions that accompany it, appears in a classified FBI Counterterrorism Policy Guide from April 2015, obtained by The Intercept"
Undercover FBI Agents Swarm the Internet Seeking Contact with TerroristsAt its lowest level of investigative activity, on the basis of vague tips or broad intelligence interests, the FBI can follow people with airplanes, examine travel records, and analyze links between email, phone, and other records collected by intelligence agencies.
Two large FBI manuals obtained by The Intercept, one of which is classified, offer previously unreleased information about just how powerful an intelligence apparatus the FBI draws on even for low-level checks, known as “assessments.”
The bureau has made online counterterrorism a strategic focus, lavishing staff and attention on a clearinghouse project called Net Talon and measuring performance through such metrics as the amount of time agents spend online, how many postings they make, and the personas they create. The FBI’s virtual tentacles are so ubiquitous that the bureau sometimes finds itself investigating its own people.
According to the guide, an online counterterrorism investigation can target websites or online networks that the FBI believes terrorists are using “to encourage and recruit members” or to spread propaganda. Such probes may extend to the administrators or creators of those forums, as well as people engaged in “the development of communications security practices” or “acting as ‘virtual couriers’ for terrorist organizations by passing online messages among members or leadership.”