Trump To FBI Graduating Class: "I've Got Your Back." Translation of Elite Good Ol' Boy Speak: You Will Not Be Held Accountable For Illegal Acts Like U.S. Government Gang Stalking. Now Let's All Wave The Flag and Stand For The Anthem.
The Church Committee Report made a variety of recommendations to rein in COINTELPRO which they called a threat to democracy and our way of life. They wanted statutes to be created which would be the “exclusive legal authority for our intelligence agencies” rather than executive directives. As they saw it the problem with the FBI was concentrating on political rhetoric and association when it should just focus on criminal conduct. They believed the Attorney General had to be the person who was accountable for making our intelligence agencies comply with the law. Oversight should rest with the Justice Department. It was the Attorney General’s job to monitor investigations that used covert techniques and to put restrictions on the maintenance and dissemination of information that was the outcome of those investigations.
If we wanted COINTELPRO to never again take place in America, we had to assure the FBI would never again interfere with “lawful speech, publication, assembly, organization, or association of Americans.” We had to stop dirty tricks like sending fake letters to factionalize a group and using informants to impact peaceful of activities of groups. There needed to be restrictions on how the FBI used informants. We had to spell out the circumstances under which the FBI could collect information on Americans, to limit their authority “to maintain information on the political beliefs, political associations, or private lives of Americans.” Information should be purged when an investigation was over. The Church Committee recommended that judicial warrants be required “for the most intrusive collection techniques.”
What had to be stopped was the FBI’s “harassing individuals through unnecessary overt investigation:” interviews, physical surveillance done for intimidation. The way to do that was to limit preliminary investigations in scope, duration, and with regard to the investigative techniques which were allowed to be used. The committee attributed abuse of rights to the fact the term “subversion” was too vague. It was that which resulted in almost any activity or any group who opposed the administration to be investigated. It cited how the General Accounting Office found a relationship between initiating investigations on soft evidence that did not meet the reasonable suspicion standard and wasting time on an innocent target. When it initiated its investigation on harder evidence the probability of detecting imminent violence was better. Hence it recommended preventive intelligence investigations be limited to prohibited activity that would soon occur. It was this kind of limit which might end the “sweeping endless investigations of remote and speculative ‘threats.’” It wanted full investigations reserved for cases in which a “substantial indication of terrorism or hostile foreign intelligence activity” would happen in the near future. This was the way, as they saw it, unnecessary investigations could be stopped and constitutional rights could be protected.
The Church Committee wanted safeguards established in the area of preliminary preventive intelligence investigations such as time limits allowing them to continue no more than 30 days. If there were information and corroboration which showed they should extend longer than that, they might last up to 60 days, but not longer. Full preventive investigations should be reserved for situations where there was reasonable suspicion that terrorist or foreign intelligence activity would soon occur. But even then a time limit of one year should be enforced unless compelling circumstances by the Attorney General or his designee indicated otherwise. What it wanted stopped was the FBI’s opening preliminary or full preventive investigations on the basis of information “an American is advocating political ideas or engaging in lawful political activities or is associating with others for the purpose of petitioning the government for redress of grievances or other such constitutionally protected purpose.”
In no case should advocacy of political ideas be the basis for government surveillance. The FBI had no business investigating peaceful protest groups or lawful associations. There needed to be greater concern about the reliability of people coming forward with allegations about Americans. The Committee saw that when there were informants with no clear guidelines the result could be participation in violent and illegal activities. It said informants should be approved by the Attorney General only where probable cause existed and used against Americans for no more than 90 days.
The Church Committee wanted more intrusive techniques subject to procedural checks. In such cases what needed to be considered were the facts and circumstances surrounding the request for the technique, the potential for covert techniques to lead to abuse, and the practicality of the procedure or technique. The Attorney General should be charged with reviewing and approving the most intrusive techniques and they should require a judicial warrant.
Except in the case of probable cause of criminal activity, it saw inherent Executive power to use surveillance on Americans as a dangerous doctrine. “The Committee believes that an American ought not to be targeted for surveillance unless there is probable cause to believe he may violate the law.” Physical surveillance should be reserved for criminal investigations or full preventive intelligence investigations.
Routine and periodic reviews was the way to make sure the FBI was complying with the law. There needed to be oversight by the General Counsels and the Inspector General of Intelligence Agencies. The ultimate test of the effectiveness of oversight was the protection of the constitutional rights of Americans. Americans needed a way to redress injuries when federal intelligence agencies engaged in improper activities. They needed mechanisms to get access to information on improper intelligence activities that were used against them. There needed to be civil remedies and monetary injunctive relief “to deter improper intelligence activity.” Americans deprived of their constitutional rights to privacy, free speech, the loss of a job or professional standing, impairments in physical or mental health needed the right to sue and Congress ought “to enact a comprehensive civil remedies statute.”
The FBI has shown itself to be incapable of stopping COINTELPRO Constitution-Trashing Abuses and Should Be Abolished.