AIR Asks DOJ to Address Civil Liberties Concerns About FBI Manual Guidelines on possible surveillance of mosques redacted from newly-released document
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/30/09) - A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today called on Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. to address concerns about possiblecivil rights violations resulting from FBI investigation guidelines instituted in the last days of theBush administration.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued that call after the release of a redacted version of the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide that whites-out portions (Part 16) about guidance on “undisclosed participation,” which relates to the use of confidential informants in American houses of worship such as mosques.
It is the FBI’s use of informants in mosques without probable cause indicating criminal activity that has been of particular concern to the American Muslim community and, in part, caused national Islamic groups earlier this year to consider suspending ties with the FBI.
Other civil liberties concerns center on the FBI’s vague rules for initiating an “assessment,” or initial investigation that does not require “any particular factual predication,” and the possible use of race and ethnicity as factors in opening an investigation.
“These newly-revealed guidelines for FBI investigations only serve to heighten concerns that the Bush administration put in place policies that will inevitably lead to violations of the Constitutionand of the right of all Americans to practice their faith without fear of government intrusion or intimidation,” said CAIR National Legal Counsel Nadhira Al-Khalili. “The Obama administration should review these guidelines and bring them into conformity with the Constitution and with the cherished American values of religious freedom and respect for civil liberties.”
Al-Khalili noted that just yesterday, a newspaper in Mississippi reported that a U.S. attorney’s office has been targeting Muslim store owners in that state in a post-9/11 crackdown, although they have no connection to terrorism.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.