[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] will amend proposed investigation guidelines [JURIST report] to comport with the concerns of Congress and civil liberties groups, according to testimony by Assistant Attorney General Elisebeth Cook [official profile] given Tuesday before the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence [committee website]. The proposed rules, referred to as the Attorney General Guidelines, are intended to shift the focus of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) [official website] from fighting crime to preventing terrorism in the US. In a joint written statement [text, PDF] with FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni [official profile], Cook wrote:
Over the last seven years, the FBI has altered its organizational structure, and the Attorney General has issued new policies to guide the FBI as it seeks to protect the United States and its people from terrorism, intelligence threats, and crime, while continuing to protect the civil liberties and privacy of it citizens. The changes reflected in the new guidelines are necessary in order for the FBI to continue its important transformation to being an intelligence-driven organization. We believe that using intelligence as the strategic driver for the FBIs activities will improve its ability to carry out its national security, criminal law enforcement, and foreign intelligence missions.AP has more.
Last week, FBI Director Robert Mueller [official profile] defended the proposed guidelines [JURIST report] before the US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] as a "necessary step" in fighting terrorism. Opponents have argued [JURIST report] that the changes could allow inappropriate racial and ethnic profiling and would permit agents to open terror investigations without evidence of any crime having been committed. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] and the committee's ranking Republican, Arlen Specter (R-PA), wrote [letter, PDF; press release] to Attorney General Michael Mukasey last month, calling on him to postpone implementation of the guidelines pending Congressional review. In his own testimony [JURIST report] before the committee in July, Mukasey said the guidelines would take into account not only race or religion but also factors such as travel to foreign terror "hot spots." Wednesday's Senate hearing followed another oversight hearing [materials] Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, where Mueller said the federal government would commission an independent review [JURIST report] of the FBI's use of scientific evidence in its investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks.