Mueller Testifies About FBI Agents Cheating on Surveillance Test

One would hope that FBI agents are familiar with guidelines for conducting surveillance and opening files on people without evidence they have committed a crime. Apparently, that's in doubt. The Inspector General is investigating whether hundreds of FBI agents cheated on a test about the guidelines.

FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress on Wednesday that he does not know how many of his agents cheated on an important exam on the bureau's policies, an embarrassing revelation that raises questions about whether the FBI knows its own rules for conducting surveillance on Americans.

Even Mueller got tripped up on the rules today. [More...]

He told Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., that the FBI cannot conduct surveillance unless it suspects wrongdoing. FBI rules require no such standard. They allow agents to conduct surveillance proactively, without any evidence that a crime has been committed.

After the hearing, the FBI said, Mueller sent a note to Durbin saying he misspoke. The FBI must have a proper purpose before conducting surveillance, but suspicion of wrongdoing is not required, he said.

In related news, the ACLU has asked the FBI in 29 states and Washington, D.C. to turn over records related to the agency's collection and use of race and ethnicity data in local communities (data mapping):

According to an FBI operations guide, FBI agents have the authority to collect information about and create maps of so-called "ethnic-oriented" businesses, behaviors, lifestyle characteristics and cultural traditions in communities with concentrated ethnic populations. While some racial and ethnic data collection by some agencies might be helpful in lessening discrimination, the FBI's attempt to collect and map demographic data using race-based criteria for targeting purposes invites unconstitutional racial profiling by law enforcement, says the ACLU.

"The FBI's mapping of local communities and businesses based on race and ethnicity, as well as its ability to target communities for investigation based on supposed racial and ethnic behaviors, raises serious civil liberties concerns," said Michael German, ACLU policy counsel and former FBI agent. "Creating a profile of a neighborhood for criminal law enforcement or domestic intelligence purposes based on the ethnic makeup of the people who live there or the types of businesses they run is unfair, un-American and will certainly not help stop crime."

The 2008 FBI Domestic Intelligence and Operations Guide (DIOG) lay out the FBI's ability to collect, use and map racial and ethnic data in order to assist the FBI's "domain awareness" and "intelligence analysis" activities. (See starting at page 44 here).

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    So, help me here. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Peter G on Wed Jul 28, 2010 at 05:55:57 PM EST
    What would be a "proper purpose" for FBI surveillance of Americans that did not involve at least a suspicion of criminal wrongdoing?  I'm hoping the answer is not "organizing an anti-war rally."  But I'm not so sure.

    The Levi Guidelines (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Ben Masel on Wed Jul 28, 2010 at 11:12:02 PM EST
    issued by Ford's Attorney general, were weakened under Reagan and Clinton before they were eliminated by Ashcroft on May 30, 2002.

    Strangely, what little criticism was voiced in the Congress came from Wisconsin Republican James Sensenbrenner.  
    Sensenbrenner warns of FBI excesses and Sensenbrenner, Ashcroft still at odds over new FBI guidelines


    Thank you (none / 0) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 07:35:48 AM EST
    Grateful to you for how well you keep track of such issues.

    Why do I think the answer might be, (none / 0) (#2)
    by Anne on Wed Jul 28, 2010 at 06:04:02 PM EST
    "whatever we say it is?"

    Not exactly feeling much trust where these agencies are concerned.


    If they'll cheat... (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 08:12:04 AM EST
    on a stupid little internal exam on policies, they'll cheat in their investigations.  

    Every agent who cheated should be sh*t-canned stat...that's just unacceptable for people with the power to destroy lives.

    Agree (none / 0) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 08:27:29 AM EST
    Agree (none / 0) (#23)
    by jbindc on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 11:34:40 AM EST
    There is no excuse for anyone to break the rules - especially if you are charged to uphold them.

    And Worse (none / 0) (#28)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 12:02:08 PM EST
    Is not knowing the rules when you charged of upholding them.

    As long as I can remember (none / 0) (#30)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 12:32:30 PM EST
    I have advocated for a rule that those in power:  lawyers, judges, cops, DA's, politicians, etc. if found guilty of a crime should have their punishment be greater than average citizens by a magnitude of.....put in your number.

    When we average "joe's" turn over power over our lives to others and they misuse that power.....I can't even finish this thought; it makes me too crazy


    Used to be right there with ya... (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 01:07:36 PM EST
    till it hit me...I sound just like the a-hole DA's, cops, and assorted agents of tyranny I ain't to keen on. "Lock 'em up lock 'em up!"

    I think it better to just severely limit their powers out the gate instead of punishing them any harsher than Joe Blow when they abuse said power.


    Well, as I wrote, (none / 0) (#40)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 08:24:19 PM EST
    You put a number on it. Doesn't necessarily have to be a zillion years in a box. And while we're not perfect, there has to be way to "settle things" appropriately.

    Have you ever been at the receiving end of crooked cops, Judges, etc? I have, and let me tell you something; when you're standing in front of a judge, with 100% of the evidence on your side, and you know that the judge and the other party are friends since childhood and now barter certain gifts for judicial "services" and then have the judge rip the last dollar you have in this world from you, maybe you can think of some kind of "justice" you'd find appropriate.

    And something else, kdog.What happened to me, I'll get over it. But, what happened to me happens to millions of our brothers and sisters every day of the week. And because it has been allowed to continue for so long, those bums who control "The System" have moved up the food chain.  And, as we talk about it here every day now, they saw an opening and moved in for the kill. What used to be every day treatment for the poor, is now every day treatment for all of us.

    And they're not through yet, not by a long shot.


    I know where you're coming from... (none / 0) (#44)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 30, 2010 at 09:02:09 AM EST
    all in all I've been pretty lucky...was mildly sexually assaulted once by a piker in blue, but other than that run of the mill police state harassment, nothing to write home about. (Thank you mom and dad for innocent looking whiteboy genes:)

    I sure as hell don't have the answer...but I'd look to street justice before I look to the system if you're done so dirty you can't get over it.  Making our code ever thicker and harsher is what got us to this point...our code needs a purity and a humanity that is often lacking in human beings, otherwise what's the damn point...lets just get on with the anarchy.


    You would be correct (none / 0) (#32)
    by nyjets on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 12:49:54 PM EST
    I am neither a hater of police or prosectors but that being said, you are correct. People who have power and misuse it should be punished a little bit more than the average citizen. That includes everyone you mentioned.

    Open book exam! (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 08:23:34 AM EST
    This was an "open book" exam, and they still cheated!  Good grief.  That is really, really bad for what it says about the culture in those field offices.

    I wouldn't just fire the agents involved, I'd fire the heads of those offices.

    It's not my father's FBI :) (none / 0) (#9)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 08:30:35 AM EST
    I thought the FBI was the cream of the crop, at least that was what I was taught :)

    Odd, It sounds exactly like... (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 08:50:18 AM EST
    my father's FBI...Martin Luther King Jr. was the cream of the crop in my house.  Abbie Hoffman.  Or even John Dillinger:)  

    My family loved its bad guys too (none / 0) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 09:36:06 AM EST
    I suppose that is why I liked Public Enemies (outside of how dreamy Johnny Depp is), I'm in love with aspects of both sides :)  And the final finish?  Melvin Purvis gets demoted, and shoots his own self in the noodle.

    You just couldn't make this stuff up.

    One of my Great Grandfathers was a very successful bootlegger dog, came to own two separate ranches because he was so flush :)  Sort of set the family up too a bit financially.  He did some time in Canyon City for it too though when he was finally caught.  He was shaken down a few times before they finally got him.


    I was kinda dissapointed... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 09:55:36 AM EST
    they didn't tackle Hoover's fetishes for illegal pron and cross-dressing in "Public Enemies", I thought Crudup played him well regardless...what a sleazeball.

    Hunter summed up the FBI best in "Kingdom of Fear"...found an excerpt.

    And that's what happened, folks. We never saw those FBI agents again. Never. And I learned a powerful lesson: Never believe the first thing an FBI agent tells you about anything -- especially not if he seems to believe you are guilty of a crime. Maybe he has no evidence. Maybe he's bluffing. Maybe you are innocent. Maybe. The Law can be hazy on these things....But it is definitely worth a roll.

    it is easy to love bad guys (none / 0) (#13)
    by nyjets on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 10:23:41 AM EST
    Unless the bad guys are hurting, stealing, or killing people that you care about.
    The criminals in public enemies were not heroes. They were criminals and cold blooded killers. No more or less.

    Missed the point... (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 10:43:48 AM EST
    the goodness or badness of a human being can not be determined by whether that person has a badge in their wallet...it's a terrible indicator.

    Using that indicator, Martin Luther King Jr. was the "bad guy" and J. Edgar Hoover was the "good guy", and everybody knows that's the furthest thing from the truth.


    Unfortunately (none / 0) (#16)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 11:00:32 AM EST
    not everybody knows. I'd like to think we could go with "most people know"..Though, I remember Raygun saying something to the effect of, "we'll never know if MLK was a communist".

    Luckily... (none / 0) (#17)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 11:07:19 AM EST
    we know for a fact Reagan was a rat fink who tattled on all his Hollywood buddies to McCarthy for the crime of maybe possibly thinking the working man was getting a raw deal in this country.

    Tell me everybody knows that bro! :)


    well not to stir up (none / 0) (#19)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 11:14:24 AM EST
    anything, but there's at least one regular poster here that'll tell you that he did it because he loved his country and because there actually WERE godless, heathen agents of totalitarian subversion threatening to adulterate our precious bodily fluids in Hollywood.

    During the Senate debate, [Sen.] Helms called for the opening of the FBI files on King, which he claimed would show that King was a communist or at least a communist sympathizer.

    When asked in an October 1983 news conference about Helms' allegations, Reagan responded, "We will know in about 35 years, won't we?" (referring to the time for the opening of the FBI files)

    okay (none / 0) (#22)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 11:20:14 AM EST
    change the "never" to "in thirty five years"..

    The implication doesn't change much, if at all..


    Just trying to be factual. (none / 0) (#24)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 11:46:30 AM EST
    He didn't say what you said he said. In fact what you said he said was actually something someone else said.

    It does make a difference, though it doesn't change the fact that Reagan was not a huge fan of MLK, despite signing MLK Day into law...


    in fact, in essence (none / 0) (#26)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 11:58:31 AM EST
    imo, he DID say what I said he said..

    The point being, that in both cases he publicly leaves open the possibility of the legitimacy of Helms' charge, rather than summoning the moral cajones to challenge Helms' tactic of attempting to smear the civil rights movement by insinuating that there was something un-American about it and that he and the other segregationists were the real patriots.


    OK, fake but accurate. (none / 0) (#27)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 12:00:43 PM EST
    hence the five words (none / 0) (#29)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 12:14:09 PM EST
    "something to the effect of" in the first post.

    But (none / 0) (#31)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 12:36:43 PM EST
    RR didn't say "something to the effect of."

    Someone else said it.

    Regardless of anyone's opinion of whether RR agreed with what that other person said.

    Again, big difference between saying something and not saying that thing, but now I feel we're just going in circles...


    I think I made it (none / 0) (#33)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 12:51:46 PM EST
    plain that the difference in the MESSAGE "we'll know in thirty five years" (said by who? Helms speaking through Reagan?) and "we'll never know", is so trifling when looked seen in context, that I'm starting to wonder what's really motivating all the quibbling.



    fair enough (none / 0) (#35)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 01:02:26 PM EST
    the perception amongst many (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 10:55:40 AM EST
    at the time - the height of the Depression - was that they were hurting people less than the Wall St speculators and bankers had. In very desperate times, "desperadoes", particularly ones arisen from humble, humiliated backgrounds like Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd, are always going to be seen with a certain amount of sympathy by the struggling masses. And if they go about their dangerous business with a certain amount of devilish flare and panache, the way Floyd and Dillinger did - with full, in-depth coverage from a media hawking the sensational to folks yearning for imaginative escape and maybe some vicarious revenge on the system - many a Robin Hood myth can be woven out of the cloth of the "common criminal".  

    As I said before (none / 0) (#18)
    by nyjets on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 11:10:54 AM EST
    It is easy to believe in the Robin Hood myth when you are not being robbed, taken hostage, or having your life threatened. These were things that Dillinger and Pretty Boy Flody were doing.

    Yeah I get it (none / 0) (#21)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 11:17:35 AM EST
    kinda like my PETA-sympathizing daughter telling me she "likes it" when animals get their "revenge" on (other) people..:)

    I'm Buddhist (none / 0) (#39)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 02:10:19 PM EST
    Anything that has no counter quickly becomes imbalanced.  If we have no bad guys...how will we recognize the good guys?  There are many forms of bullying, and sometimes criminal bullies have been born from the need to stand up to institutional bullies.  Even Thomas Jefferson understood that, but saying such things makes some people very uncomfortable.

    It is uncomfortable because it is not true (none / 0) (#41)
    by nyjets on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 10:09:12 PM EST
    People become criminal bullies because they choose to be bullies. No one makes someone a bully.
    Furthermore, a bully is a bully. They are all the same, they prey on the weak.

    Bullies prey on the weak-er. (none / 0) (#42)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Jul 30, 2010 at 01:01:07 AM EST
    Everyone is a bully - to somebody.

    I am sorry (none / 0) (#43)
    by nyjets on Fri Jul 30, 2010 at 07:07:38 AM EST
    BUt that is just plain silly. NOt everyone is a bully. Many people do not prey on people who are weak or weaker than them.

    Fair enough, "prey" is a tough word. (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Jul 30, 2010 at 11:49:20 AM EST
    We all have innumerabl experiences in our lives where someone has more power than we do and thereby gets their way in a manner that is not beneficial to us. In fact, sometimes it's downright damaging to us.

    By the same token, we all have innumerable experiences in our lives where we are the ones with more power and others are weaker and we get our way in a manner that is not beneficial and perhaps sometimes downright damaging to those others who are weaker, whether we are aware of it or not.

    Where the line is drawn between that, and "preying" on those who are weaker?


    {head desk} (none / 0) (#25)
    by nycstray on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 11:52:21 AM EST
    Why is anyone surprised at this? (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by oldpro on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 01:08:29 PM EST
    I remember reading a survey of students (can't recall...high school?  college?) asking about their own cheating in school.  The percentage, as I recall, was well over 50% -- and those were just the ones who admitted and defended it!

    The 'culture of corruption' is everywhere in the society now.  Bred in the bone.

    something about the siren song (none / 0) (#38)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 29, 2010 at 01:14:28 PM EST
    of the perceived path of least resistance..

    Probably not as new a phenomenon as we'd like to think.


    Obviously, the surveillance test needed... (none / 0) (#3)
    by steviez314 on Wed Jul 28, 2010 at 07:08:32 PM EST
    hall monitors.