Tuesday, January 31, 2017
The FBI Gives Itself Lots of Rope to Pull in Informants
Over two previous presidential administrations, the FBI, enabled by complacent congressional oversight in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, has transformed itself from a criminal law enforcement organization into an intelligence-gathering operation whose methods are more similar to those of the CIA and NSA. With 35,000 employees and more than 15,000 informants, today’s FBI is an intelligence agency without a historical peer in the United States.
Recruiting and managing informants, known in the FBI’s parlance as “confidential human sources,” is one of the most crucial ways in which the bureau gathers intelligence. Confidential FBI documents obtained exclusively by The Intercept reveal for the first time how the bureau approaches those tasks — including its use of a number of tactics that raise concerns about the civil liberties of those being targeted for recruitment.