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FBI Response to ACLU Report

Washington, D.C. October 20, 2011
  • FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691

The following is in response to details released in recent ACLU report:

The FBI joins the ACLU in opposing racial or ethnic discrimination. The AG Guidelines and the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) clearly prohibit the predication of investigative activity solely on the exercise of First Amendment rights, including freedom of religion, or on race or ethnicity. The FBI does not investigate individuals, groups, or communities based on ethnicity or race.

Certain terrorist and criminal groups target particular ethnic and geographic communities for victimization and/or recruitment purposes. This reality must be taken into account when determining if there are threats to the United States.

These efforts are intended to address specific threats, not particular communities. These domain management efforts seek to use existing, available government data to locate and better understand the communities that are potential victims of the threats. There must be an understanding of the communities we protect in order to focus our limited human and financial resources in the areas where those resources are most needed.

To fulfill its national security mission, the FBI cannot simply wait for people to report potential threats. To be threat-based and intelligence driven is to find previously undetected criminal and terrorist threats. Geospatial mapping is widely used by law enforcement. Just as putting push pins on a map will allow a local police chief to see clearly where the highest crime areas are, combining data that is lawfully collected into one place allows connections to be identified that might otherwise go unnoticed.

As detailed in the DIOG, the relevance of mapping ethnic or racial information to any given investigation must be clearly demonstrated and documented. The DIOG establishes greater overall protections for privacy than the law requires, and reflects the FBI’s commitment to detecting and disrupting threats while safeguarding civil rights and civil liberties.