Intelligence: FBI Unleashed


September18, 2008:  The U.S. wants to rescind rules that govern how quickly FBI agents can pursue an investigation. Back in the 1970s, Congress forced the FBI and CIA to limit their ability to investigate spies, terrorists or criminals. This was in reaction to presidents in the 1960s and 70s using these two agencies too freely for partisan purposes. In the last decade, it's been accepted that these restrictions were partially responsible for al Qaeda being able to carry out the September 11, 2001 attacks (in particular those terrorists who learned to fly the aircraft at American flight schools).

It's also become obvious that terrorists exploit these restrictions, knowing that they have more time to flee, or just detect FBI interest in them. Under the old restrictions, the FBI had to deal with terrorists like they would a U.S. citizen suspected of a crime that was already committed. With terrorists, you are mainly trying to detect and stop terrorists before they can carry out their attacks.

Under the new rules, FBI agents have the ability to conduct surveillance, interview people possibly associated with suspects and generally look into possible terrorists without waiting. The new rules will enable the FBI to more effectively undertake their new (post-September 11, 2001) intelligence collecting duties, and are to go into effect at the end of the month. Congress, however, could intervene and prevent implementation.


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