Scores of federal law enforcement agencies are ignoring a longstanding legal mandate to submit statistics to the FBI’s national hate crimes database, calling into question the veracity of what is supposed to be the nation’s most comprehensive source of information on hate crimes.
The action by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was a concession by the Trump administration to Democratic demands for the investigation to be run independently of the Justice Department. Calls for a special counsel mounted after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.
The budget deal that keeps the federal government running through September 30 provides increases for several anticrime programs, particularly in the anti-drug and immigration enforcement areas. It also creates four “enforcement groups” to target heroin abuse and 10 new “immigration judge teams.”
In the latest skirmish over privacy in the cellphone age, a federal magistrate in Chicago said the FBI hadn’t presented enough facts in its application that would justify sweeping “intrusions,” including any specific information about those who might be living at a residence or their connection to a child pornography investigation.
In several plots investigated recently in Kansas and Missouri, alleged terrorists reportedly were unknowingly following the directions of undercover FBI agents who supplied fake bombs and came up with key elements of the plans, reports the Kansas City Star.
The FBI and Southern Poverty Law Center, among others, have reported a surge in hate crimes, particularly against Muslims. But how many of these incidents are there? A lack of rigorous reporting by thousands of law enforcement agencies make it impossible to know. Here’s one hint: Police in Mississippi reported no hate crimes last year.
Reports of hate crimes of all types increased about 7 percent last year. But incidents directed toward Muslims soared 67 percent in 2015 over 2014. The FBI’s annual report documented 257 anti-Muslim hate crimes — up from 154 in 2014 — and 5,850 total incidents reported to police last year, up from 5,479 incidents.
Critics believe FBI boss James Comey has displayed a worrying disregard for the norms that usually have constrained his predecessors, “straying…across the fine line that separates independence from unaccountability.” They wonder whether the next president may find him just as untouchable as J. Edgar Hoover was.