DETROIT — Some Arab- and Muslim-Americans say new Justice Department guidelines that boost the FBI's power to investigate suspected terrorists could target innocent people.
The revised guidelines going into effect Monday will allow agents to use undercover sources to gather information, interview people without identifying themselves and spy on suspects without evidence of wrongdoing.
Critics say the rules will allow for abuses, including more racial and religious profiling.
"That's an extraordinary power," said Mike German, a former FBI agent who now advises the American Civil Liberties Union.
"There is anxiety the Middle Eastern community will be targeted," said lawyer Nabih Ayad, who has defended a number of Arab Americans charged in national security cases. "There is always a danger in the implementation when you give such discretion in the hands of agents."
Current rules date to the 1970s
Federal officials say current rules came about in the 1970s and limit their ability to investigate people in national security cases.
FBI agents have met twice with community leaders to assure them they won't be targeted, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Andrew Arena, special agent in charge of the FBI in Detroit said there would be no profiling under the new regulations.
"Every agent in the FBI is going to be trained on these guidelines," he said. "The concern in the community is that there's going to be abuses, and it's going to open up the possibility of profiling. We're not going to allow that to happen."
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said, "At the end of the day, the FBI is not going to open an investigation simply on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion."
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