The FBI is illegally using its community outreach programs to gather intelligence data about American Muslims and other groups, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) alleged on Dec. 1, 2011. Citing documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the ACLU says the FBI violated federal law when agents in California attended meetings at mosques and other events and illegally recorded information about the attendees’ political and religious affiliations.
According to the Associated Press
(AP), heavily redacted FBI documents sent to the ACLU “indicate that the FBI, in some cases between 2007 and 2009, ran background checks on people its agents encountered at Muslim-related events and recorded personal information such as e-mail addresses, phone numbers, physical descriptions and opinions in reports marked "routine".”
The FBI denied wrongdoing, saying information gathered by outreach teams was not used for operational matters. “Established policy requires that an appropriate separation be maintained between outreach and operational activities," the FBI said
in a statement.
This comes days after another AP investigation
revealed widespread New York Police Department (NYPD) spying programs that focused on everyday activities of Muslim life in New York, targeting mosques, restaurants, and college student groups.