Criminal Intelligence Investigations

This section authorizes the FBI to conduct criminal intelligence investigations of certain enterprises. These investigations differ from general crimes investigations, authorized by Section II, in several important respects. As a general rule, an investigation of a completed criminal act is normally confined to determining who committed that act and securing evidence to establish the elements of the particular offense. It is, in this respect, self-defining. An intelligence investigation of an ongoing criminal enterprise must determine the size and composition of the group involved, its geographic dimensions, its past acts and intended criminal goals, and its capacity for harm. While a standard criminal investigation terminates with the decision to prosecute or not to prosecute, the investigation of a criminal enterprise does not necessarily end, even though one or more of the participants may have been prosecuted.

In addition, the organization provides a life and continuity of operation that are not normally found in a regular criminal activity. As a consequence, these investigations may continue for several years. Furthermore, the focus of such investigations "may be less precise than that directed against more conventional types of crime." United States v. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297, 322 (1972). Unlike the usual criminal case, there may be no completed offense to provide a framework for the investigation. It often requires the fitting together of bits and pieces of information, many meaningless by themselves, to determine whether a pattern of criminal activity exists. For this reason, the investigation is broader and less discriminate than usual, involving "the interrelation of various sources and types of information." Id.

Members of groups or organizations acting in concert to violate the law present a grave threat to society. An investigation of organizational activity, however, may present special problems particularly where it deals with politically motivated acts. There is "often . . . a convergence of First and Fourth Amendment values" in such matters that is "not present in cases of 'ordinary' crime." Id. at 313. Thus special care must be exercised in sorting out protected activities from those which may lead to violence or serious disruption of society. As a consequence, the guidelines establish safeguards for group investigations of special sensitivity, including tighter management controls and higher levels of review.