Washington: FBI director Robert Mueller told Congress on Wednesday that the bureau`s domestic surveillance guidelines are being used properly and that US agents are not employing them to target people for investigation based on race.
The FBI director`s defence of the guidelines at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing followed criticism by civil liberties groups that the guidelines unfairly target Muslims.
The guidelines "do not target based on race”, Mueller said.
Mueller`s response came during questioning by committee chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, about a news agency’s story indicating widespread cheating on an FBI test designed to be sure agents understood the guidelines.
In an interview on Tuesday, Farhana Khera, executive director of the non-profit group Muslim Advocates, said the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide is "quite an invasive data collection system”.
"It`s based on generalised suspicion and fear on the part of law enforcement, not on individualised evidence of criminal activity," said Khera.
The FBI says the guide equips agents with lawful and appropriate tools so the agency can transform itself into an intelligence-driven organisation that investigates genuine criminal and national security threats.