The New York Times reported that the FBI opened 82,325 assessments on individuals and groups from March 2009 to March 2011, yet only 3,315 of these assessments developed information sufficient to justify opening preliminary or full investigations. That so few assessments discovered any information or allegation that would meet even the low threshold for opening a preliminary investigation makes clear that the FBI investigated tens of thousands of entirely innocent people under its assessment authority. Moreover, at the conclusion of an assessment or investigation, after “all significant intelligence has been collected, and/or the threat is otherwise resolved,” the FBI’s Baseline Collection Plan authorizes agents to implement a socalled “disruption strategy,” which permits FBI agents to continue using investigative techniques “including arrests, interviews, or source-directed operations to effectively disrupt [a] subject’s activities.” This resurrection of reviled Hoover-era terminology is troubling, particularly because FBI counterterrorism training manuals recently obtained by the ACLU indicate the FBI is once again improperly characterizing First Amendment-protected activities as indicators of dangerousness.
The full quote can be obtained from this FBI document, pp. 11-12:
If the risk to public safety is too great, or if all significant intelligence has been collected, and/or the threat is otherwise resolved, investigators may, with substantive desk coordination and concurrence, implement a disruption strategy. A successful strategy may employ a range of tools including arrests, interviews, or source-directed operations to effectively disrupt subject’s activities. Additionally, and when warranted, all subject interviews should specifically address the subject’s activities and potential recruitment as a source.