WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 -- The U.S. Justice Department is instituting changes that would give the FBI agents more power when pursuing security, intelligence or criminal matters.
Besides expanding line agents' ability to track down leads on national security, foreign intelligence and criminal cases, the rule changes would ease some reporting requirements between agents, their supervisors and federal prosecutors, The Washington Post said.
Under the changes, agents could conduct surveillance, solicit informants and interview friends of people they are investigating earlier without a bureau supervisor's approval. Currently, these methods can be used only after agents opened an investigation and developed a reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed or a national security threat was developing, the Post said.
We wanted simpler, clearer and more uniform standards and procedures for domestic operations, a source described as a senior Justice Department official told the Post. We view this as the next step in responding to post-9/11 requests that the FBI become better at collecting intelligence and using that intelligence to prevent attacks.
U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey must approve the revisions, although he indicated they would take effect Oct. 1, the newspaper reported.
Congressional aides reviewed the draft guidelines in August. FBI and Justice lawyers were to present them Friday to civil liberties, privacy advocates and Arab-American groups expressing concerns about the rules' impact on religious and ethnic minorities, the Post said.
Copyright 2008 United Press International. Reprinted Via Newscom.