Government Now Allowed to Store Info on Innocent Americans

Under new Obama administration rules, information on Americans with no clear ties to terrorism can be held for at least 5 years

by John Glaser, March 22, 2012

The U.S. intelligence community can now store information innocent Americans for up to five years under new Obama administration rules, expanding previous authority to hold details on individuals with no ties to terrorism.

The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) was previously supposed to immediately destroy intelligence information about Americans when there were no clear ties to terrorism, but now new rules that basically justify spying on innocent Americans are being justified by terrorism fear-mongers.

“Following the failed terrorist attack in December 2009, representatives of the counterterrorism community concluded it is vital for NCTC to be provided with a variety of datasets from various agencies that contain terrorism information,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a statement late Thursday. “The ability to search against these datasets for up to five years on a continuing basis as these updated guidelines permit will enable NCTC to accomplish its mission more practically and effectively.”

Blogger Marcy Wheeler writes that “To justify this power grab,” advocates “ point to two attacks that had nothing to do with the length of data retention: the Nidal Hasan attack, in which information on his conversations with Anwar al-Awlaki hadn’t been shared throughout the government, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, in which his suspect status hadn’t been loaded into the no-fly list.”

“They don’t, however, point to a concrete example where 5 year old data of US persons might have helped solve an actual terror attack,” she added.

Those who care about the rights of innocent Americans are concerned. ”It is a vast expansion of the government’s surveillance authority,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. ”Total Information Awareness appears to be reconstructing itself,” Rotenberg said, referring to the Defense Department’s post-9/11 intelligence program that was killed in 2003 because of privacy concerns.

The Obama administration, as is usual in cases where they disregard the Constitution, promised the new tyrannical rules would come with strong safeguards and accountability. In reality, the war on terrorism is continuing to be used to justify major infringements on the civil liberties of Americans.

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