1 October 1998: Add link to Defense Department comments today on domestic terrorism
30 September 1998
Today, Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Frank Scafidi (202-324-3691) responded to Rep. Barr's allegations of "an effort by the Department of Justice to obtain massive new enforcement powers in the closing days of the 105th Congress":
1. BARR: A vastly expanded definition of terrorism to include domestic crimes having no relationship to terrorism.
FBI: Not true.
2. BARR: The power to seize commercial transportation assets for federal use.
FBI: True, though "seize" is inaccurate. The FBI seeks similar authority of the military to requisition transportation services in a national emergency.
3. BARR: The ability to commandeer personnel from other federal agencies without reimbursement.
FBI: Not true. No change is planned from the current method of inter-agency cooperation and reimbursement.
4. BARR: Expanded wiretap authority to allow "roving" wiretaps, and wiretaps without any court authority.
FBI: True. This authority is outlined in HR3753, the "Multipoint Wiretap Act of 1998,"sponsored by Rep. Bill McCollum, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime of the Judiciary Committee, on which Rep. Barr serves.
5. BARR: Enlarged asset forfeiture provisions to allow the FBI to seize personal property in both criminal and civil matters.
FBI: True. The FBI would like extend its current authority for seizure of the gains of criminal activities.
6. BARR: The establishment of a permanent "FBI Police Force."
FBI: Partly true. The FBI has a police force for protection of its own facilities but which does not have more general police authority. The FBI would like to increase this authority to cover criminal activity observed in the vicinity -- not spelled out -- of its facilities. There is no plan for an FBI "national police force."
7. BARR: Loosening of Posse Comitatus restrictions to allow more military involvement in domestic law enforcement.
FBI: True, but with oversight of the military by the Justice Department. The change is needed to utilize the military's superior ability to respond to terrorist and WMD threats. [See related comments by Defense Department.]
8. BARR: Authority to force telephone and Internet companies to divulge information on their customers.
FBI: True, but only in cases involving "sexual predators on children."
9. BARR: Barr also noted the Department and the FBI are "shopping" this wish list in an effort to get the items placed in a spending measure without hearings or debate.
FBI: Not true, although in the legislative process there is a continuing pursuit of opportunities to get favorable action on FBI legislative requests.