Loosening of F.B.I. Rules Stirs Privacy Concerns





WASHINGTON — After a Somali-American teenager from Minneapolis committed a suicide bombing in Africa in October 2008, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating whether a Somali Islamist group had recruited him on United States soil.

Instead of collecting information only on people about whom they had a tip or links to the teenager, agents fanned out to scrutinize Somali communities, including in Seattle and Columbus, Ohio. The operation unfolded as the Bush administration was relaxing some domestic intelligence-gathering rules.

The F.B.I.’s interpretation of those rules was recently made public when it released, in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit, its “Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide.”; The disclosure of the manual has opened the widest window yet onto how agents have been given greater power in the post-Sept. 11 era.


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