Attorney General Michael Mukasey today dismissed a report by the Associated Press last week that a revision of the FBI's investigative guidelines would permit racial profiling by the FBI in terrorism cases.
Over the past several months, Mukasey has reviewed the Attorney General Guidelines that set the predicates and thresholds for the FBI to open an investigation.
At a hearing today before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mukasey clearly laid out that the revised guidelines would not permit racial profiling.
"Under these new guidelines, will the fact that a person is of a certain ethnicity or national origin be enough, without any evidence of wrongdoing, to justify a preliminary inquiry?" asked Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.
"No," Mukasey said. "And that is -- that represents no change from prior rules that said that we -- that says that we don't use that as the basis alone for predicating an investigation into anyone."
The FBI guidelines were last updated in May 2002 by then Attorney General John Ashcroft, who also established guidelines for National Security and Counterintelligence Investigations in November 2003.
The new guidelines, which are expected to be released later this summer, will be updated and be a uniform set of guidelines.
With the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and other intelligence agencies having more information in databases about Americans -- including biometric and other identifying information that will be available in the future -- there is already a broad range of information available to intelligence and criminal investigators, in terms of travel and financial records, which, alone, could trigger an investigation.
One example includes the FBI reviewing Suspicious Activity Reports from the Treasury Department for wire transfers for some transactions over $10,000.
"The regulations will assure that the nature of evidence to be gathered, and the way that it's gathered, is subject to review, and also, so that it becomes apparent that, not only have the ways in which the FBI goes about gathering evidence been changed, but also the oversight, both within the FBI and within the Justice Department ... has been enhanced to keep track with and to keep pace with the increased authority of the FBI to gather intelligence," Mukasey said.