The FBI's creeping advance into the world of counterterrorism is nothing new. But quietly and without notice, the agency has finally decided to make it official in one of its organizational fact sheets. Instead of declaring "law enforcement" as its "primary function," as it has for years, the FBI fact sheet now lists "national security" as its chief mission.
While we may not be exactly shocked that the FBI has become yet enforcement wing of the security-state, it is somewhat surprising that the switch has just now become official on paperwork. One bit of obvious reasoning from the article:
"If you tie yourself to national security, you get funding and you get exemptions on disclosure cases," said McClanahan. "You get all the wonderful arguments about how if you don't get your way, buildings will blow up and the country will be less safe."
In light of the epic failures of the Boston Bombing case, exemptions on disclosures would be something the FBI would be quite interested in I would think.
Something else that happened over the summer that could of led to the official change is the Snowden leaks. Could changing the FBI's mission be an attempt to provide cover for the ways in which it accesses data on Americans?
When our mission changed after 9/11, our fact sheet changed to reflect that," FBI spokesman Paul Bresson told Foreign Policy. He noted that the FBI's website has long-emphasized the agency's national security focus. "We rank our top 10 priorities and CT [counterterrorism] is first, counterintel is second, cyber is third," he said.
The list list goes like this:
Protect the United States from terrorist attacks (see counter-terrorism);
Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage (see counterintelligence);
Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes (see cyberwarfare);
Combat public corruption at all levels;
Protect civil rights;
Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises (see organized crime);
Combat major white-collar crime;
Combat significant violent crime
See way down there on the bottom, they still care about white-collar crime right? Not really...
According to a 2007 Seattle Post-Intelligencer investigation, the Justice Department did not replace 2,400 agents assigned to focus on counterterrorism in the years following 9/11. The reductions in white-collar crime investigations became obvious. Back in 2000, the FBI sent prosecutors 10,000 cases. That fell to a paltry 3,500 cases by 2005. "Had the FBI continued investigating financial crimes at the same rate as it had before the terror attacks, about 2,000 more white-collar criminals would be behind bars,"
2000 more white collar criminals. Who knows, some of them might have been the ones who led us into financial disaster (much more so than any terrorists). One would think that pulling so many case-workers over to the massive problem that is terrorism, would result in thousands of terrorism cases being brought to the courts, but alas.. no.
Bank robbery and incidental crimes (107 charges)
Drugs (104 charges)
Attempt and conspiracy (81 charges)
Material involving sexual exploitation of minors (53 charges)
Mail fraud – frauds and swindles (51 charges)
Bank fraud (31 charges)
Prohibition of illegal gambling businesses (22 charges)
Fraud by wire, radio, or television (20 charges)
Hobbs Act (Robbery and extortion affecting interstate commerce) (17 charges)
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)–prohibited activities (17 charges)
The FBI is not only copying the NSA in mission, but also in execution:
The FBI’s elite hacker team designed a piece of malicious software that was to be delivered secretly when Mo signed on to his Yahoo e-mail account, from any computer anywhere in the world, according to the documents. The goal of the software was to gather a range of information — Web sites he had visited and indicators of the location of the computer
The most powerful FBI surveillance software can covertly download files, photographs and stored e-mails, or even gather real-time images by activating cameras connected to computers, say court documents and people familiar with this technology
Which maybe could almost be justified in terrorism cases, however history shows that mission creep is already in effect, and these fishing-expedition abilities are being used against at the far opposite end of the crime spectrum from terrorism with the complicity of the courts:
Yet another federal magistrate judge, in Austin, approved the FBI’s request to conduct a “one-time limited search” — not involving the computer’s camera — by sending surveillance software to the e-mail account of a federal fugitive in December 2012.
In that case, investigators had evidence that the man, who allegedly had taken the identity of a soldier serving in Iraq, was living at a hotel in San Antonio, just more than an hour’s drive from Austin. The FBI’s surveillance software returned a detailed inventory of the fugitive’s computer, including the chips used, the amount of space on his hard drive and a list of dozens of programs loaded onto it. He was later arrested, convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for financial fraud and identity theft.
5:20 AM PT: Emptywheel:
It wouldn’t be surprising that a guy (Comey) with roots in NY who was prosecuting terrorism even before 9/11 would adopt this focus. Nor do I, thus far, have reason to believe he won’t be better at going after banksters than Mueller was (and Obama has finally shifted some focus to it).
But I do hope — given his appeal to independence — he realizes that making the FBI a domestic intelligence agency does make the FBI a partisan institution, because it de-emphasizes a threat every bit as serious as terrorists and cybercriminals: the banksters.
- See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/...
Comments are closed on this story.