For Immediate Release
December 20, 2005
FBI National Press Office
FBI Refutes Claims of Arbitrarily Investigating Advocacy Groups
Washington, DC - Recent statements by officials of the American Civil Liberties Union including those carried by the news media ("FBI Watched Activist Groups," The New York Times, 12/20/2005; "FBI Papers Show Terror Inquiries into PETA, Other Groups," Washington Post (12/20/2005) are misleading and imply that the FBI has engaged in unauthorized or otherwise inappropriate investigative activity. The FBI does not investigate any public interest or advocacy group based on the group's lawful activities or political beliefs. Investigations and interviews of individuals conducted as part of a criminal and/or terrorism investigation are always predicated on specific information about a potential criminal act or terrorist threat, and, they are conducted in strict conformance with federal law, Department of Justice investigative guidelines and FBI policies. FBI Agents are obliged to respond to all threats of violence under FBI jurisdiction and take an oath to conduct such investigations within the bounds of the Constitution, while respecting the dignity and civil liberties of the public.
As the present Freedom of Information Act releases have shown, the FBI collects a vast amount of information—lawfully and appropriately—including public source material, which is then later indexed and is retrievable. The existence of a file naming an individual or organization does not, in itself, indicate that the FBI has in the past or is presently investigating that individual or group. FBI files are composed of any record or communication regarding an individual or organization that may have been indexed under that individual's or organization's name in the Central Records System; these records would include any communications that individual or organization may have had with the FBI. This would include requests for information, as well as coordination of meetings or reports by other individuals about the individual or organization.
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