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NCJ Number: 167834 Find in a Library
Title: Antiterrorism Measures Do Not Threaten Civil Liberties (From Urban Terrorism, P 147-149, 1996, A E Sadler and Paul A Winters, eds. -- See NCJ-167808)
Author(s): J Q Wilson
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 3
Sponsoring Agency: Greenhaven Press
Farmington Hills, MI 48333-9187
Sale Source: Greenhaven Press
P.O. Box 9187
Farmington Hills, MI 48333-9187
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Current guidelines give the FBI sufficient latitude to prevent terrorism, but political pressures have made the bureau overly cautious about protecting civil liberties.
Abstract: Terrorist groups, like any other criminal conspiracies, are best attacked by infiltration. The FBI can gather intelligence even on a group with political or religious sponsorship provided the FBI has credible reasons to believe the group may engage in violence. The threat of violence need not be imminent; it need only be plausible. The guidelines give the FBI authority to investigate by means that include, if necessary, recruitment or placement of informants in groups, mail covers, or electronic surveillance, provided the facts and circumstances reasonably indicate that a group is engaged in an enterprise for furthering political or social goals wholly or in part through activities that involve force or violence. In the author's view, there is no major problem with the guidelines, but there may be one with their interpretation. FBI agents have learned to be politically risk averse. Although the intelligence guidelines would not have barred infiltration of the group responsible for the Oklahoma bombing, assuming that anyone had heard of it in advance, but the FBI has been criticized so often by contrary political pressures that many of its top officials are reluctant to risk aggressive infiltration of groups who may have political clout. Political support for intelligence work swings like a pendulum. This quickly changing congressional environment, while understandable in its own terms, is not helpful to a law enforcement agency.
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Counter-terrorism tactics; Domestic terrorism; Undercover activity
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