The FBI has implemented new ground rules that fundamentally alter the way investigators handle counterterrorism cases, allowing criminal and intelligence agents to work side by side and giving both broad access to the tools of intelligence gathering for the first time in decades.
The result is that the FBI, unhindered by many of the restrictions of the past, will conduct many more searches and wiretaps that are subject to oversight by a secret intelligence court, rather than regular criminal courts, officials said. Civil liberties groups and defense lawyers predict that more innocent people will be the targets of clandestine surveillance.
The new strategy -- launched in early summer and finalized in a classified directive issued to FBI field offices in October -- goes further than has been publicly discussed by FBI officials in the past and marks the final step in tearing down the legal wall that had separated criminal and intelligence probes since the spying scandals of the 1970s, authorities said.
This isn't good news for civil liberties. The Washington Post reports it here via The Boston Globe.