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Wall Street Journal Reports on a “Breathtaking” Expansion of the Surveillance State

Published: December 15, 2012
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The Journal Reports that in March a debate was had within the White House around whether a “dragnet” of citizen records should be created.

It was argued that the 4th Amendment does not extend to business done by government day to day. So tax records, some employment records, flight records, and presumably every other bit of information created when a citizen interacts with the government should be subject to random search and algorithm analysis.

The good news is that there was some push-back.

The bad news is that this push-back didn’t matter, and that Attorney General Holder singed the effort into effect.

Given that we now must interact with the government on some level in nearly every aspect of our lives, it looks like there is almost no restriction of what the government can look into without even a warrant.

Some people consider those who will not “give a little” on the expansion of government to be unreasonable, but this is the sort of this which always happens when people who oppose large government “give a little.” A seed is planted somewhere, and then one day the Feds are trawling through everyone’s’ electronic records without a warrant.

When money and power are to be had, programs such as the one detailed in the report attached flourish.

(From The Wall Street Journal)

Top U.S. intelligence officials gathered in the White House Situation Room in March to debate a controversial proposal. Counterterrorism officials wanted to create a government dragnet, sweeping up millions of records about U.S. citizens—even people suspected of no crime…

….The rules now allow the little-known National Counterterrorism Center to examine the government files of U.S. citizens for possible criminal behavior, even if there is no reason to suspect them. That is a departure from past practice, which barred the agency from storing information about ordinary Americans unless a person was a terror suspect or related to an investigation.

Now, NCTC can copy entire government databases—flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others. The agency has new authority to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, and to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. Previously, both were prohibited. Data about Americans “reasonably believed to constitute terrorism information” may be permanently retained.

The changes also allow databases of U.S. civilian information to be given to foreign governments for analysis of their own. In effect, U.S. and foreign governments would be using the information to look for clues that people might commit future crimes.

“It’s breathtaking” in its scope, said a former senior administration official familiar with the White House debate.

Click here for the article.

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