Bureau agents will gather evidence to ensure that criminal prosecutions of alleged terrorists are an option. The move is a reversal of the Bush administration’s emphasis on covert CIA actions.
By Josh Meyer
May 28, 2009
Reporting from Washington — The FBI and Justice Department plan to significantly expand their role in global counter-terrorism operations, part of a U.S. policy shift that will replace a CIA-dominated system of clandestine detentions and interrogations with one built around transparent investigations and prosecutions.
Under the “global justice” initiative, which has been in the works for several months, FBI agents will have a central role in overseas counter-terrorism cases. They will expand their questioning of suspects and evidence-gathering to try to ensure that criminal prosecutions are an option, officials familiar with the effort said.
Though the initiative is a work in progress, some senior counter-terrorism officials and administration policy-makers envision it as key to the national security strategy President Obama laid out last week — one that presumes most accused terrorists have the right to contest the charges against them in a “legitimate” setting.
The approach effectively reverses a mainstay of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism, in which global counter-terrorism was treated primarily as an intelligence and military problem, not a law enforcement one. That policy led to the establishment of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; harsh interrogations; and detentions without trials.