Attorney General Guidelines FBI
Following Congressional hearings and media reports criticizing the FBI’s domestic surveillance activities, in 1976, Attorney General [AG] EDWARD LEVI, U.S. Department of Justice [USDOJ] issued the Attorney General Guidelines FBI for conducting federal criminal investigations. Generally speaking, the Attorney General Guidelines FBI make clear when the Bureau can initiate a criminal investigation and collect intelligence, conduct undercover operations and use confidential informants, and monitor/record consensual conversations.
Under the General Crimes and Racketeering/Terrorism section, the Attorney General Guidelines FBI specify the Bureau can initiate an investigation when circumstances “reasonably” indicate a federal crime has or might be committed. The Guidelines also state sensitive criminal investigations must be brought to the attention of the U.S. Attorney and intelligence investigations can be conducted for the purposes of identifying criminal enterprises and their capacity to do harm. While Racketeering Enterprise Investigations [REIs] typically concern Organize Crime, the FBI Terrorism Enterprise Investigations [TEIs] generally seek to identify organizations pursuing a political or social agenda using physical violence or force.
In the Confidential Informant’s section, the Attorney General Guidelines FBI set forth procedures wherein informants must be scrutinized for “suitability;” are warned about the limits of their authority; and can be authorized to engage in otherwise illegal activity. In the event an informant engages in “unauthorized” illegal activity,” the Guidelines specify violations must be promptly reported to both FBIHQ and the Department of Justice. And in the event an informant is deactivated—whether for cause or some other reason—the deactivation must be properly reported, with any authority permitting the informant to engage in otherwise illegal activity revoked.
In the Undercover Operation’s section, the Attorney General Guidelines FBI mandate—prior to an operation being initiated—both FBI and USDOJ officials must address: 1.] agent safety; 2.] damage caused to public institutions because of an undercover operation; 3.] injury to a target’s reputation; 4.] defense strategies including entrapment and outrageous government conduct; and 5.] damage to third parties, in particular financial loss and/or criminal victimization caused by the Bureau’s generation of a crime.
[NOTE: Information contained herein can be found in the Attorney General Guidelines FBI signed by AG JOHN ASHCROFT, dated May 30, 2002, and the Special Report issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, dated September 2005.]