The Justice Department will unveil rules changes today that would put much more power into the hands of FBI agents pursuing leads on national security, foreign intelligence, and ordinary criminal cases, the Washington Post reports. The most extensive revision to FBI operating instructions in years would ease some reporting requirements between agents, their supervisors, and prosecutors in what officials call a critical effort to improve information gathering and detect terrorist threats.
The changes would give the FBI’s 12,000 agents the ability at a much earlier stage to conduct physical surveillance, solicit informants, and interview friends of people they are investigating without a supervisor’s approval. Such techniques now are available only after agents have developed a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed or that a threat to national security is developing. The rule revisions require the approval of Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who has signaled that they will take effect Oct. 1.