The FBI, in true Big Brother fashion, is secretly and deliberately collecting information about innocent Americans for its intelligence files, and illegally recording information about their speech, beliefs, and First Amendment-protected activities. This is bad enough. But to make it worse, the FBI is doing this intelligence collection through community outreach programs — programs that are supposed to build trust and rapport with the public — without telling community groups or their members what it is doing.
The proof is in the FBI’s own documents. Today, the ACLU issued our latest Eye on the FBI Alert as part of our Mapping the FBI campaign. The alert highlights FBI documents from San Francisco and Sacramento showing that the FBI is systematically storing in intelligence files memos containing the names, identifying information, and opinions of people who attend FBI outreach programs; the expressive activities of community groups; the names and positions of group leaders; and the racial, ethnic, and national origin of group members
By using community outreach programs to gather intelligence, the FBI is jeopardizing the trust and rapport with community groups and the public that is essential to effective law enforcement in a democratic society.
The FBI records described above and others also violate the Privacy Act, which prohibits the government from compiling records about individuals’ First Amendment-protected activities in federal databases, absent special circumstances that don’t exist here.