FBI Director Warns Citizens To Be Vigilant
During a recent visit to Mississippi, FBI Director James Comey told a crowd of onlookers how terrorist threats such as the Islamic State group are a danger to all citizens of the United States, and stressed how actions of ordinary people could aid in preventing future attacks. In stressing that the danger of Islamic State extends throughout the country, Comey noted that the FBI currently has open cases looking into ISIS/ISIL affiliated individuals in every U.S. state except Alaska.
Comey said that the challenge U.S. law enforcement officials face is that with ISIS teachings available over the internet, physical connections and ties are not necessary precursors to an attack.
The Director also pointed out that today’s political climate, in the aftermath of the Edward Snowden leaks, could make it more difficult for law enforcement officers to use necessary surveillance techniques in an effort to prevent future threats. “I’m very worried about where we’re drifting as a country in respect to law enforcement’s ability to, with lawful process, intercept communications,” Comey said. “I’m talking about situations where we have probable cause to believe that somebody is communicating with a terrorist group.” Comey stated that because of the possible shortened reach of law enforcement in the future, an active and aware populace will be necessary to maintain public safety. “Ordinary folks should listen to the hair on the back of their neck,” Comey recommended. “We’ve gone back through every homegrown violent extremist case in the United States and studied it. In every single case, someone saw something online, at a religious institution, in a family setting, at a school, that was weird, that was out of place, this person was acting in a way that didn’t make sense.”
For federal law enforcement officers, Comey’s warnings to the public about terrorist threats have many possible repercussions. The public acknowledgment of the widespread nature of ISIS-related investigations by the Bureau underlines how important the threat is being taken by the bureau. Comey’s encouragement for the public to become more vigilant in reporting suspicious behavior could also portend a rise in using information from the public for investigations. This could lead to a notable increase in interactions between ordinary citizens and federal agents. And given the sensitive nature of many suspected terrorist tips may lead to an increase in harassment or discrimination complaints against federal law enforcement. The bottom line is that investigating possible terrorist cases can be increase the opportunities for negative outcomes for the officers involved.
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Posted in The Spotlight