It’s unclear how many Americans are under surveillance by the FBI. Not only would the agency be extremely unwilling to even provide a broad estimate, but the underlying basis for a preliminary investigation is so thin it could conceivably cover a majority of US residents.
A previously-classified document [pdf] obtained by The Intercept gives more insight into the FBI’s use of “assessments” — an investigation the agency doesn’t consider an investigation.
Assessments allow agents to look into tips or leads that don’t meet the standard for opening an investigation, which requires specific information or allegations of wrongdoing — an “articulable factual basis” for suspicion, as FBI rules put it. In an assessment, by contrast, an agent just needs to give an “authorized purpose” for their actions. Agents can open assessments “proactively,” in order to evaluate potential informants, collect intelligence about threats surrounding public events, study a field office’s geographical area, or gather information about a general phenomenon of interest to the bureau…. [read more]
LHWM Opinion: Do you find this unreal and hard to believe. They now have a TV show on CBS showing you just a tid bit of what they can do with technology. They are being bold and upfront about it so it becomes the new normal. This show is an eye opener!