A Justice Department plan would loosen restrictions on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to allow agents to open a national security or criminal investigation against someone without any clear basis for suspicion, Democratic lawmakers briefed on the details said Wednesday.
The plan, which could be made public next month, has already generated intense interest and speculation. Little is known about its precise language, but civil liberties advocates say they fear it could give the government even broader license to open terrorism investigations.
Will this be enough to get Obama to draw the line? *hah*
Later: A New York Times editorial — A New Rush to Spy
The F.B.I. has a long history of abusing its authority to spy on domestic groups, including civil rights and anti-war activists, and there is a real danger that the new rules would revive those dark days.
Clearly, the Bush administration cannot be trusted to get the balance between law enforcement and civil liberties right. It has repeatedly engaged in improper and illegal domestic spying — notably in the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program.
The F.B.I. and the White House no doubt want to push the changes through before a new president is elected. There is no reason to rush to adopt rules that have such important civil liberties implications.