National Counterterrorism Center given new privacy busting power
March 23, 2012
New guidelines put forth by the Obama administration will allow US spy agencies to keep records on innocent Americans without oversight for up to five years.
As the AP reports, previously the National Counterterrorism Center, was legally obliged to immediately destroy information that it gathered about American citizens if it found no clear links to terrorism.
Following the 2009 Christmas day underpants bomber debacle, US representatives immediately called for the NCTC’s authority to be expanded, saying that there was not enough communication between intelligence agencies.
“Following the failed terrorist attack in December 2009, representatives of the counter-terrorism community concluded it is vital for NCTC to be provided with a variety of data sets from various agencies that contain terrorism information,” National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper Jr. said in a statement late Thursday.
“The ability to search against these data sets 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.”
The NCTC, made up of a combination of intelligence agencies and the Pentagon, was created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and has drawn criticism ever since for infringement on the Fourth Amendment and basic privacy rights.
“It is a vast expansion of the government’s surveillance authority,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center said of the new guidelines.
Noting that the new rules contravene the Federal Privacy Act, Rotenberg added “The fact that this data can be retained for five years on U.S. citizens for whom there’s no evidence of criminal conduct is very disturbing.”
An Obama administration official said that privacy will be safeguarded because there are strict measures in place to ensure that any intelligence gathered on American citizens “is likely to contain significant terrorism information.”
However, given that the Department of Homeland Security now considers banal bodily activities such as yawning, staring and goose pumps as “suspicious activity” indicative of terrorism, those assurances are unlikely to appease concerned Americans.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.