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MEMO: Guidelines on General Crimes, Racketeering Enterprises and Domestic Security/Terrorism Investigations

U.S. Department of Justice



The Deputy Attorney General

Washington, DC 20530

March 2, 1994




FROM: Jo Ann Harris
            Acting Deputy Attorney General

SUBJECT: Attorney General Guidelines on General Crimes, Racketeering Enterprise and Domestic Security/Terrorism Investigations


The FBI has requested a minor change in the above Guidelines, commonly referred to as the Attorney General's Guidelines. The Guidelines were originally promulgated on March 21, 1989 by then Attorney General Thornburgh. Since they were originally promulgated by the Attorney General, I think it appropriate that you authorize the change.

The section of the guidelines at issue deals with racketeering enterprise investigations involving violence, extortion, narcotics or systemic public corruption. As presently drafted, the guidelines require that only the Director or a designated Assistant Director may authorize such an investigation. The change requested by the FBI would allow the SAC to authorize this type of investigation. As under the current guidelines, the Attorney General would still be notified of such a racketeering investigation, but the notification would come from the Section Chief of the Organized Crime/Drug Intelligence Section. This Section would conduct a thorough review of the proposed investigation, and could order it stopped if it was deemed inconsistent with either good program management or the law.

As explained in more detail in the attached FBI memorandum to the Deputy Attorney General of August 27, 1993 requesting this change in the Guidelines, review by the Organized Crime/Drug Intelligence Section would result in the same type of scrutiny at FBI headquarters as is now given to a racketeering enterprise investigation, but would avoid the delays involved in securing review by a Deputy Assistant Director and an Assistant Director. These reviews are conducted before the Director gives his authorization and can delay the start of the investigation by up to two weeks.

The FBI's August 27 memorandum on its proposed change in the Guidelines was from the then Acting Director and was addressed to the Deputy Attorney General. The Deputy's Office did not make an immediate response because neither this Office nor the Criminal Division could determine how the Deputy could act to alter a Guideline that had been promulgated by the Attorney General, particularly one that dealt with notification of the Attorney General. In any event, in a letter to the Criminal Division dated November 29, 1993, a copy of which is attached, then Assistant Director Larry Potts stated that Director Freeh had been briefed on the Bureau's recommendations and "has fully concurred in their purpose and content."

In addition, my staff has discussed with FBI headquarters the advisability of allowing a SAC, rather than the Director or an Assistant Director, to authorize a racketeering investigation involving the potentially very sensitive area of "systemic public corruption." We have been assured that the FBI has in place other guidelines that require the Director to be notified immediately of the commencement of any public corruption investigation.

In sum, the proposed change in the guidelines is quite minor and is supported by the current Director. The relevant part of the Guideline at issue would be revised as follows:

"A racketeering enterprise investigation may be authorized by the Special Agent in Charge Director or designated Assistant Director upon a written recommendation setting forth the facts and circumstances reasonably indicating the existence of a racketeering enterprise whose activities involve violence, extortion, narcotics, or systemic public corruption. In such cases the FBI shall notify the Attorney General or his/her designee of the opening of the investigation..."

I recommend that you approve the change.

Approved:      Janet Reno      

Disapproved: _____________________

Date:       April 19, 1994      



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