Concerns Raised About FBI's Broader Use of Counterterrorism Tools
By T Chris
An overhaul of the FBI's counterterrorism policies in response to the Patriot Act "marks the final step in tearing down the legal wall that had separated criminal and intelligence investigations since the spying scandals of the 1970s" according to senior FBI officials. The new policies require criminal and intelligence investigators to work together in terrorism cases, opening the door to investigative tools that were unavailable to criminal investigators prior to the Patriot Act.
The result is that the FBI, unhindered by the restrictions of the past, will conduct many more searches and wiretaps that are subject to oversight by a secret intelligence court rather than regular criminal courts, officials said. Civil liberties groups and defense lawyers predict that more innocent people will be the targets of clandestine surveillance.
New York lawyer Joshua Dratel, who has filed briefs in opposition to the FBI's anti-terrorism policies, warns that the new polices "will result in a funneling of all cases into an intelligence mode" providing criminal investigators with "an end run around the Fourth Amendment."
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