ASHCROFT: I think that's totally correct. The new rule says that the FBI has the right to go to public places on the same terms and conditions as other members of the public for counter-terrorism purposes. Now that means if there is a rally of people who are criticizing the United States and its policies and saying that the United States will someday perhaps be destroyed because of that, the FBI agent can go and listen to what's being said. But it's a public meeting. ... For example, they had to have certain kinds of authority and OKs from the bureaucracy to extend investigations. We've changed that.
They were forbidden to, for example, to attend open meetings. If there was a rally of people who were railing about the presence of the United States in some part of the world and saying that the United States should be punished for it, if there hadn't been any lead or evidence that a crime had been committed, or was being committed, they couldn't go even to the public park and listen to the rally. May 31, 2002
Interview With John Ashcroft Larry King Live CNN