The National Counterterrorism Center, without any debate by lawmakers, has been granted broad authority to store huge databases of information about Americans and search the data for patterns of terrorist activity, even if the subjects of the search are not suspected of any crime.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Attorney General Eric Holder granted the center the authority to copy government databases including flight records, casino-employee lists, families hosting foreign-exchange students and other types of information.
At the same time, he gave them authorization to freely plumb those databases whenever they feel like it. Previously, the government was only allowed to do that as part of an ongoing investigation if the information was deemed relevant.
The new powers mean government counterterrorism investigators can sort through your information on a fishing expedition, even without suspicion of a crime, to find anything that may spark an investigation.
The National Counterterrorism Center already has the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment database under its control. The rules change, which actually occurred in March and has only now come to light, now allow it to obtain almost any other government database.
According to the Journal, that could include information submitted by someone seeking a federally backed mortgage or getting treatment at a federal hospital, for example.
Similar surveillance proposals during the Bush administration were rejected amid much condemnation.
The Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness program was defunded by Congress in 2003 due to public outrage, but the National Security Administration continued to compile data about Americans’ travel, spending and associations.
The rationalization for the rules change is to prevent not catching a terrorist before he boards a plane, as happened in 2009 with the underwear bomber.
What this all means is that any interaction with the government will now be recorded, analyzed for terrorist and filed in your own personal dossier, whether you’ve done anything or not.
And since this Administration considers veterans, Christians and conservatives to be terror suspects, guess who the government likely will be looking at first.