FBI Recants on Memo Saying Agents Can ‘Bend or Suspend the Law’


The FBI once taught its agents that they can “bend or suspend the law” as they wiretap suspects, reports Wired in its Danger Room national security blog. But the bureau says it didn't really mean it, and has now removed the document from its counterterrorism training curriculum, calling it an “imprecise” instruction. That is good, national security attorneys say, because the FBI's contention that it can twist the law in pursuit of suspected terrorists is just wrong. The passage was included in 876 pages of training materials about Muslims and Arab-Americans.

The reference to law-bending was noted in a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller from Sen. Richard Durbin obtained by Wired. A spokesman provided a copy of the document this week but refused to say who prepared it, how long it was in circulation, and how many FBI agents, analysts and officials received its instruction. The document notes that “under certain circumstances, the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedom of others.” Those circumstances include “the ability to gather information on individuals which would normally be protected under the U.S. Constitution through the use of FISA [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act], Title 3 monitoring [general law enforcement surveillance], NSL [National Security Letter] reports, etc.”

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