The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) has received a letter from the FBI admitting to widespread violations of the law. The letter was released in response to a lawsuit filed in federal district court in the District of Columbia under the Freedom of Information Act. The released letter was originally sent by the FBI to Senators Richard Durbin, Patrick Leahy, and Jeff Sessions of the Committee on the Judiciary on July 28, 2010. It was submitted following a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in during which FBI Director Robert Mueller—whose successor will be named this month—admitted that FBI operations have strayed well beyond those permitted under the Constitution. At the hearing, according to the letter,
Director Mueller…misspoke. You [Senator Durbin] asked the Director whether there is a requirement of “suspicion of wrongdoing” in order for the FBI to engage in surveillance of an individual or location under the FBI’s Domestic Investigation and Operations Guide (DIOG). His answer should have been that there must be a proper purpose for the surveillance. Suspicion of wrongdoing could be a proper purpose, but it is not the only proper purpose.
From a government agency found by the US Senate to have “conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association,” only 40 years ago, this admission should generate significant controversy. The Bill of Rights Defense Committee and nearly 50 other organizations submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of the hearing in question. That letter raised issues related to those about which Senator Durbin asked Mueller, resulting in the director’s error. With the 10-year anniversary of our nation’s constitutional crisis looming this September, now is a timely opportunity to examine the credibility of government agencies charged with protecting national security. While recent achievements in foreign theaters may indicate success in the so-called “War on Terror,” the escalating costs to liberty warrant a long overdue discussion. Shahid Buttar, BORDC’s executive director, said, “The FBI is a recidivist agency that has often, repeatedly, and flagrantly violated the law. Especially given the Bureau’s historical violations of constitutional rights, the American people deserve to hear the truth about ongoing problems under the leadership of Director Mueller.”