President Obama’s Attorney General has approved new rules governing the government’s maintenance of files on suspected terrorists. The files previously had to be removed after 180 days. Now, it’s five years.
These people need not be charged with any crime. Suspicion is sufficient.
How will a person know if he is in this data base? He won’t, until the government tells him.
What data base is involved> The one maintained by National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). This is the intelligence community’s central clearinghouse for terrorism data.
Here are the new guidelines. “Read ’em and weep.”
Alawyer for the Director of National Intelligence has assured the public that “everyone is comfortable” about this — everyone in the intelligence community, that is.
“A number of different agencies looked at these to try to make sure that everyone was comfortable that we had the correct balance here between the information-sharing that was needed to protect the country and protections for people’s privacy and civil liberties,” said Robert S. Litt, the general counsel in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NCTC. . . .
The old guidelines were“very limiting,” Litt said. “On Day One, you may look at something and think that it has nothing to do with terrorism. Then six months later, all of a sudden, it becomes relevant.”
Te government says it needs a central comouter system to keep track of everything the government needs — or wants — to protect the public.
“We have been pushing for this because NCTC’s success depends on having full access to all of the data that the U.S. has lawfully collected,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House intelligence committee. “I don’t want to leave any possibility of another catastrophic attack that was not prevented because an important piece of information was hidden in some filing cabinet.”
We are told that only specific bits of information can be shared.Each agency must approve each request.This, I can believe. There are endless turf wars between agencies. Data in an agency’s files represent power. The agencies will resist data-sharing.
So, there will be roadblocks — real, live people — standing at the entry points to the data;
The government will assure us that there are safeguards. Don’t count on these safeguards. Count instead on turn wars between the agencies to slow down the computer searches to a crawl.
“Other homeland security experts said the guidelines give officials more flexibility without compromising individual privacy.Translated: “Forget about safeguards.
“Five years is a reasonable time frame,” said Paul Rosenzweig, a former senior Department of Homeland Security policy official. “I certainly think 180 days was way too short. That’s just not a realistic understanding” of how long it takes analysts to search large data sets for relevant information, he said.
Translation: “Turf wars being what they are, terrorists will be able to kill 50 million people with air-borne anthrax before the FBI has a list of suspects — which will not actually include the names and addresses of the unknown perpetrators.”