16 Mar 2005

FBI defends American Samoan raid

2:34 pm on 16 March 2005

The Special Agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Field Office in Honolulu, Robert Casey, has responded to criticisms about the manner in which federal agents recently executed search warrants in American Samoa.

Responding to reports that some locals were upset because the agents carried weapons, Mr Casey said that is how the FBI conducts its work in every state and territory and the policy will not change.

The FBI agents, who arrived by military aircraft early on the morning of the day of the search of offices in the Executive Office Building, did not go through immigration clearance, but Mr Casey says American Samoa is a US territory and the FBI does circumvent state and territorial regulations if it considers it necessary.

Answering complaints that there was no prior notice of the raid, Mr Casey said that it is at the discretion of the FBI, although he said, as a matter of courtesy, Governor Togiola Tulafono was informed in Washington D.C. about the same time that the search was getting underway.

He pointed out that the FBI was under no obligation to do this.

As for claims that the agents were culturally insensitive, Mr Casey said that American Samoa had to recognize that it is subject to the laws of the United States.