New rules are to be introduced allowing FBI agents to turn up the pressure on potential informants and delve into the backgrounds of more Americans.
Most significant are changes that will allow agents to search through trash and administer more lie detector tests as a way to tighten the screws on potential informants, reports The New York Times.
Under rules now in place, agents can use those techniques only on suspects, but the new regulations mean can use such tactics to gather information that could then be used to persuade people to help the bureau investigate others.
Other changes to be detailed in a new edition of the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide will allow agents to use more surveillance squads to follow targets and to search commercial and law enforcement databases without making a record of their investigations.
The bureau does not need permission to alter its manual so long as the changes fit within guidelines, FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni told The Times. She described the new rules as “more like fine-tuning than major changes.”
Information gathered through a trash trawl could be useful for many reasons, such as determining whether the subject could pose a threat to agents, she said.
One change will tighten the FBI’s rules. The decision to approve sending an informant to a religious service now will have to be authorized by a special agent in the field, rather than be delegated down the chain of command.
Michael German, a former FBI agent who now works as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the new rules will make it harder to detect abuse.