The result, charges the ACLU, has been “racial profiling on an industrial scale.”
For example, information obtained through one FOIA action shows that an FBI field office in Detroit sought authority in July 2009 to collect information and evaluate domestic terrorism threats “because Michigan has a large Middle-Eastern and Muslim population, [and] it is prime territory for attempted radicalization and recruitment” by State Department-designated terrorist groups originating in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
In response to the ACLU report, the FBI stated flatly that it “does not investigate individuals, groups, or communities based on ethnicity or race.”
But in a statement, the FBI also noted the reality of the post-9/11 world as it sees it.
“Certain terrorist and criminal groups target particular ethnic and geographic communities for victimization and/or recruitment purposes,” the FBI said. “This reality must be taken into account when determining if there are threats to the United States.”
“To fulfill its national security mission, the FBI cannot simply wait for people to report potential threats,” the FBI statement continued. “To be threat-based and intelligence driven is to find previously undetected criminal and terrorist threats ... Just as putting push pins on a map will allow a local police chief to see clearly where the highest crime areas are, combining data that is lawfully collected into one place allows connections to be identified that might otherwise go unnoticed.”