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As the primary criminal investigative agency in the federal government, the FBI has the authority and responsibility to investigate all criminal violations of federal law not exclusively assigned to another federal agency. The FBI thus plays a central role in national law enforcement and in the proper administration of justice in the United States.
Investigations by the FBI are premised upon the important duty of government to protect the public against general crimes, against organized criminal activity, and against those who would engage in political or racial terrorism or would destroy our constitutional system through criminal violence. At the same time, that duty must be performed with care to protect individual rights and to insure that investigations are confined to matters of legitimate law enforcement interest. The purpose of these Guidelines, therefore, is to establish a consistent policy in such matters. The Guidelines should encourage Agents of the FBI to perform their duties with greater certainty, confidence and effectiveness. They should also give the public a firm assurance that the FBI is acting properly under the law.
The Guidelines provide guidance for all investigations by the FBI of crimes and crime-related activities. Investigations involving foreign intelligence, foreign counter-intelligence and international terrorism matters are the subject of separate guidelines. The standards and requirements set forth herein govern the circumstances under which an investigation may be begun, and the permissible scope, duration, subject-matters, and objectives of an investigation.
All investigations of crime or crime-related activities shall be undertaken in accordance with one or more of these Guidelines.
Part I sets forth general principles that apply to all investigations conducted under these Guidelines.
Part II governs investigations undertaken to detect, prevent and prosecute specific violations of federal law.
Part III A governs information concerning enterprises which are engaged in racketeering activities involving violence, extortion, narcotics or public corruption.
Part III B governs criminal intelligence investigations undertaken to obtain information concerning enterprises which seek to achieve political or social change through violence.
These Guidelines are issued under the authority of the Attorney General as provided in 28 U.S.C. 509, 510, and 533.
I. General Principles
Preliminary inquiries and investigations governed by these Guidelines are conducted for the purpose of preventing, detecting, or prosecuting violations of federal law. They shall be conducted with as little intrusion into the privacy of individuals as the needs of the situation permit.
All preliminary inquiries shall be conducted pursuant to the General Crime Guidelines. There is no separate provision for a preliminary inquiry under the Criminal Intelligence Guidelines. A preliminary inquiry shall be promptly terminated when it becomes apparent that a full investigation is not warranted. If, on the basis of information discovered in the course of a preliminary inquiry, an investigation is warranted, it may be conducted as a general crimes investigation, or a criminal intelligence investigation, or both. All such investigations, however, shall be based on a reasonable factual predicate and shall have a valid law enforcement purpose.
In its efforts to anticipate or prevent crime, the FBI must at times initiate investigations in advance of criminal conduct. It is important that such investigations not be based solely on activities protected by the First Amendment or on the lawful exercise of any other rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. When, however, statements advocate criminal activity or indicate an apparent intent to engage in crime, particularly crimes of violence, an investigation under these Guidelines may be warranted unless it is apparent, from the circumstances or the context in which the statements are made, that there is no prospect of harm.
General crimes investigations and criminal intelligence investigations shall be terminated when all logical leads have been exhausted and no legitimate law enforcement interest justifies their continuance.
Nothing in these Guidelines is intended to prohibit the FBI from collecting and maintaining publicly available information consistent with the Privacy Act.
Nothing in these Guidelines prohibits the FBI from ascertaining the general scope and nature of criminal activity in a particular location or sector of the economy. . . .
III B. Domestic Security/Terrorism Investigations
This section focuses on investigations of enterprises, other than those involved in international terrorism, whose goals are to achieve political or social change through activities that involve force or violence. Like racketeering enterprise investigations, it is concerned with the investigation of entire enterprises, rather than individual participants and specific criminal acts, and authorizes investigations to determine the structure and scope of the enterprise as well as the relationship of the members.
1. General Authority
a. A domestic security/terrorism investigation may be initiated when the facts or circumstances reasonably indicate that two or more persons are engaged in an enterprise for the purpose of furthering political or social goals wholly in part through activites that involve force or violence and a violation of the criminal laws of the United States. The standard of "reasonable indication" is indentical to that governing the investigation of a general crimes investigation under Part II.
In determining whether an investigation should be conducted, the FBI
shall consider all of the circumstances, including:
(1) the magnitude of the threatened harm;
(2) the likelihood that it will occur;
(3) the immediacy of the threat; and
(4) the danger to privacy and free expressions posed by an investigation.
c. In the absence of any information indicating planned violence by a group or enterprise, mere speculation that force or violence might occur during the course of an otherwise peaceable demonstration is not sufficient grounds for initiation of an investigation under this section.
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