Thursday, March 29, 2012

ACLU: FBI illegally used ‘outreach’ program to spy on Muslims

NY Daily News
Larry McShane

Wrong for FBI to ‘target American Muslim’ groups like this, American Civil Liberties Union says

The FBI’s San Francisco office illegally collected intelligence on Muslims religious activities under the guise of an outreach program, the American Civil Liberties Union says.

FBI records obtained by the ACLU indicated the federal agents violated the U.S. Privacy Act — which protects maintaining records on religious practice unless there is a clear law enforcement purpose.

“Everyone understands that the FBI has a job to do, but it is wrong and counterproductive for the bureau to target American Muslim religious groups for secret intelligence gathering,” said ACLU attorney Hina Shamsi.

The documents covered the years from 2004 through 2008, and were obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request.

The FBI, in its response, defended its action and noted that the agents involved identified themselves in every case — even handing out business cards in some instances.

“These 2004-2008 documents reflect that information was collected within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity ... including activities designed to strengthen relationships in various activities,” said FBI spokesman Michael Kortan.

The FBI has since established a formal community outreach program and put new rules into effect regarding intelligence gathering.

In the reports made public by the ACLU, the religious information was mentioned in passing in larger reports filed by FBI agents.


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