The FBI overstepped its authority in investigating left-wing domestic groups after the September 11, 2001 attacks and then misled Congress about its actions, an inspectorgeneral’s report has said.
The report said the FBI improperly used the cover of “terrorism” to investigate a number of domestic activist groups from 2001 to 2006 including Greenpeace, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the pacifist Thomas Merton Center.
The Justice Department inspector general’s report, requested by Congress four years ago, said the FBI classified these investigations as “domestic terrorism cases” but had little to back this up.
It said this was based on “potential crimes” including trespassing and vandalism “that could alternatively have been classified differently.”
The report also said the FBI “made false and misleading statements to Congress” about the investigations including surveillance of an anti-war rally, and said that the agency should review whether “administrative or other action is warranted” for this.
The inspector general concluded that these were a number of specific cases rather than a bureau-wide policy.
“The evidence did not indicate that the FBI targeted any of the groups for investigation on the basis of their First Amendment activities” or expressed political beliefs, the report said.
“We concluded that in several cases, the FBI predication was factually weak and in several cases, there was little indication of any possible federal crime as opposed to local crime.”