FBI Chief Urges Restoration of Searches without Warrants
Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III on Wednesday urged the reauthorization of an act passed by Congress in 2008 - but slated to expire at the end of this year - that gives federal authorities the ability to conduct warrantless searches.
He said the law allows the collection of vital information about international terrorists while providing a robust protection for the civil liberties and privacy of Americans.
During a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Mueller said the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) gives law enforcement authorities wide-ranging surveillance authority to target terrorism plots at a time al Qaeda and its affiliates and adherents continue to scheme to attack U.S. sites.
These groups have attempted several attacks in and on the United States, including the failed Christmas Day airline bombing in 2009, and the attempted bombing of U.S.-bound cargo planes in October of 2010, he said.
We also remain concerned about the threat from homegrown violent extremists, he said. Over the last two years, we have seen increased activity among extremist individuals. These individuals have no typical profile; their experiences and motives are often distinct. But they are increasingly savvy and willing to act alone, which makes them difficult to find and to stop.
His comments came in the wake of the discovery that al Qaeda had undertaken a sophisticated plan involving a non-metallic underwear bomb to be used by a suicide bomber, who actually was a double agent working with the CIA and Saudi intelligence agencies.
Mr. Mueller testified that counterterrorism remains the FBI's top priority, noting that in the past decade, al Qaeda has become decentralized, but the group remains committed to high-profile attacks against the West. He said records seized from Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, as well as the recent conviction of an al Qaeda operative plotting to conduct coordinated suicide bombings in the New York City subway system, confirmed that the group was committed to renewed attacks.
He also said terrorist groups are using the Internet to connect with like-minded persons, adding that al Qaeda uses online chat rooms and websites to recruit and radicalize followers to commit acts of terrorism. …