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The FBI has assumed new powers to investigate people and organizations not even suspected of crime, with blessings from the US Department of Justice and its terror-terrified Lord Protector John Ashcroft.

FBI Director Robert Mueller laid out the preliminary sketch during a Washington press conference Wednesday. After cleverly castigating himself for the bureaucratic bungling which caused warnings from the Phoenix field office about foreigners taking pilot training last Summer to go unanswered, and which also allowed Zacarias Moussaoui to go without a thorough investigation while he was in custody before the September atrocity, Mueller slickly concluded that the Bureau has got to go about things in a more direct manner, which is of course a scheme he's been rigging for some time. The FBI couldn't have leaked evidence of these failures more cleverly. Once the mainstream press had a chance to be outraged by the shocking revelations which the FBI no doubt deliberately fed them, Mueller beat himself up in public to bolster his arguments, win sympathy among journalists and citizens, and pave the way for his new regime.

These sorts of failures will be inevitable and on-going if the FBI isn't allowed to operate outside the law, was the subtext. Calling anti-terror investigations the FBI's new and primary crusade, he proposed to re-organize the Bureau and transform it into a premier national secret-police force as it had been under J. Edgar Hoover.

The anticipated changes will release agents from antiquated constraints such as requiring evidence of criminal activity before launching an under-cover investigation. Nine hundred agents will be recruited by September in furtherance of this scheme. The new anti-terror undercover shock-troops will be permitted to infiltrate groups of which the government disapproves, including religious groups, and trawl the Net poking about for signs of trouble without prior approval from headquarters.

Cyber-terror was another of Mueller's preoccupations. This will involve a new 'cyber division,' as well as an upgrade of the Bureau's hardware and software systems which the traitor Robert Hanssen owned so easily. Agents will be kept busy chasing down teenaged script kiddies defacing government and military Web sites, along with similar international terrorists and evil-doers. One can also expect database and data-mining software to be upgraded for significant enhancements to the Bureau's ability to bury itself in evidence which it can't sort out.

In addition, the FBI has granted itself permission to work more closely with the CIA, a military support organization currently forbidden to operate within the US. Until the 1970's, and the shocking revelations of the Church Commission, the FBI and CIA were permitted a close working relationship which Congress curtailed after being disgusted by the details of their joint escapades. The FBI got into an embarrassing row with Congress over its Cointelpro program, a vast domestic surveillance network which infiltrated groups and monitored individuals suspected of wrongthinking, such as being less than delighted with the Vietnam war, or imagining that J. Edgar Hoover was a cross-dressing mother's boy or that Presidents Johnson and Nixon were a couple of conniving, manipulative grifters in the pockets of defence contractors.

The specifics of the new federal regime will be laid out Thursday by Lord Protector Ashcroft. ®

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