Valerie Caproni

  • October 29, 2009
    The release of a manual on FBI investigations reveals that the spy agency gained greater power following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to investigate groups of people based on their race. The New York Times reports that the FBI started investigating Somali communities in several American cities after it learned that a Somali-American teenager was involved in a suicide bombing in Africa. The Times reports: Instead of collecting information only on people about whom they had a tip or links to the teenager, agents fanned out to scrutinize Somali communities, including Seattle and Columbus, Ohio. The operation unfolded as the Bush administration was in the midst of relaxing some domestic intelligence-gathering rules."

    FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni defends the agency's policy, saying "The F.B.I. has been told that we need to determine who poses a threat to the national security - not simply to investigate persons who have come onto our radar screen." 

    But civil liberties advocates, who filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit to force release of the FBI's relaxed guidelines, say racial profiling is the result. Farhana Khera, president of Muslim Advocates told The Times, "We have seen even in recent months the revelation of the F.B.I. going into mosques - not where they have a specific reason to believe there is criminal activity, but as ‘agent provocateurs' who are trying to incite young individuals to join a purported terror plot."