Muslim groups are rethinking their previous commitments to work with the FBI in light of growing concerns that mosques and other Islamic centers are under surveillance or being infilatrated -- without any evidence they’ve participated in a crime, The Associated Press reports.
That decision should come as little surprise to the Justice Department, given that, as I reported in April, a last-minute rule adopted by the Bush administration in December gives the FBI unprecedented powers to conduct surveillance of targets without any basis for suspicion of criminal activity. That wasn’t likely to sit well with Muslim groups, who believe they’re often the targets of such surveillance. (Because the Department of Justice doesn’t reveal how it uses the FBI authority, it’s impossible to confirm or deny those claims.)
Under the new Attorney General Guidelines -- adopted by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and which the Obama administration has not revoked -- the FBI may use physical surveillance; interview a person’s neighbors, landlord, colleagues or friends; retrieve personal data from commercial databases; and recruit and assign informants to spy at political, religious or other meetings -- all without evidence that the target of the investigation has done anything wrong. (More)