The New York Times reported on a forthcoming plan by the Justice Department to loosen restrictions on the FBI, effectively allowing them to investigate someone without reasonable suspicion. Although details have not yet been released, four Congressional staffers obtained information on the plan during a briefing and four Democratic Senators have already aired concerns about the new plan in a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The Senators wrote, “[the plan] might permit an innocent American to be subjected to such intrusive surveillance based in part on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or on protected First Amendment activities.” Mukasey said the FBI would still require a legitimate purpose for an investigation, but agreed to hold off on approving the plan until after a Congressional hearing on the matter scheduled for September 17th.
These guidelines come on the heels of a recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to allow Custom and Border agents to randomly search and seize electronic information stored on laptop computers, cameras, cell phones, MP3 players, and other devices without “reasonable suspicion. Triple A has already aired concerns about these searches, and will take similar action on any discriminatory plans that give the FBI carte blanche to investigate US citizens.