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Government-Imposed Restrictions On Fbi Domestic Terrorism Investigations

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Chapter Summary

This chapter gives a brief history of some of the restrictions imposed on FBI investigators by the courts, Congress, and the executive branch. It focuses on how these restrictions affected the ability and willingness of the FBI to conduct investigations of terrorist groups on domestic soil. This was particularly a problem before the first World Trade Center and Oklahoma City attacks. FBI supervisors had to evaluate the magnitude, probability, and immediacy of the threat posed by any group before opening a full investigation. Congress, the White House, and the FBI failed to find a balance between democratic principles and oversight, on one hand, and the need for effective domestic intelligence, on the other. That failure created an environment in the early 1990s where the terrorist threat environment was clearly defined to exclude nearly any person or group living or acting inside the United States.

Keywords: FBI investigators; Oklahoma City; terrorist groups; United States; White House; World Trade Center



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