Salon Radio: ACLU's Mike German on new FBI spying powers

With three months left in the Bush administration, Attorney General Michael Mukasey is about to vest broad new FBI investigative powers aimed at U.S. citizens.

Published September 29, 2008 7:57PM (EDT)

Last month, Attorney General Michael Mukasey announced that the FBI -- with four months left in the Bush administration -- was adopting new regulations for itself which would vastly increase its power to investigate and spy on American citizens, on U.S. soil, even in the absence of any suspicion that the targeted citizen is involved in any wrongdoing. My guest today on Salon Radio is former long-time FBI agent and current ACLU Policy Counsel Michael German to discuss those new regulations, why they are both so dangerous and counter-productive, the ways in which FBI Director Robert Mueller is spouting clearly misleading statements to justify them, and what the prospects are for stopping their implementation. Speaking about these new regulations, German said in the interview:

The agents have basically unfettered authority to go out and really conduct invasive investigations against innocent people who have done nothing to give the FBI any level of suspicion that they're doing something wrong, and that's extraordinary. That's a power the FBI hasn't had since J. Edgar Hoover was in charge. And that's something people have to recognize -- there's a reason that the FBI's power was circumscribed, and that's because, when it wasn't, they went far beyond what any reasonable person would have thought they should do. And what people have to realize about that time period is that those investigation were very ineffective.

The discussion is roughly 25 minutes and can be heard by clicking PLAY on the recorder below. A transcript will be posted shortly. For those who want to discuss the bailout, you can do so on the post below, which addresses that issue.

By Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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