FBI's Responsibility to Protect Civil Liberties
Intelligence activities conducted within the United States require
special consideration because they directly affect privacy rights
and civil liberties protected by the Constitution and other laws.
The FBI's authority to collect information is very clearly laid
out in law and is directed by the Attorney General. Intelligence
collection is done only in accordance with the intelligence priorities
set by the President, and is guided at every step by procedures
mandated by the Attorney General. The FBI is subject to and follows
the Attorney General's guidelines and procedures for FBI National
Security Investigations and Foreign Intelligence Collection.
The FBI's collection authorities are also controlled by the Federal
Courts. Under the USA PATRIOT Act, a federal judge must still approve
search warrants and wiretaps for counterintelligence and counterterrorism
investigations. Agents must still prove probable cause in order
to obtain a warrant authorizing searches and wiretaps. The FBI
only collects and disseminates intelligence under guidelines designed
specifically to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens, and we are
committed to using our authorities and resources responsibly.
The FBI is committed to carrying out its mission in accordance
with the protections provided by the Constitution. FBI agents are
trained to understand and appreciate that the responsibility to
respect and protect the law is the basis for their authority to
The FBI puts a premium on thoroughly training our Special Agents
about their responsibility to respect the rights and dignity of
individuals. In addition to extensive instruction on Constitutional
law, criminal procedure, and sensitivity to other cultures, every
new FBI Agent visits to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
in Washington, D.C., to see for themselves what can happen when
law enforcement becomes a tool of oppression.