Maybe now we know the true purpose for that giant domestic spy complex being built by the NSA in Utah.
Attorney General Eric Holder approved a new list of guidelines for how long agencies of the federal government tasked with combatting “terrorism” may retain data gathered about American citizens. Basically, this information may be saved even if it contains no connection to criminal activity whatsoever.
According to the new regulations, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) (headquartered at the Liberty Crossing complex in McLean, Virginia, left) can store and “continually assess” this information “for a period of up to five years.” Before the promulgation of these new guidelines, the NCTC was under instructions to destroy “promptly” (typically defined to mean within 180 days) this cache of material gathered from U.S. citizens if there was nothing related to terrorism found in it.
Speaking fondly of the new time restraints, Paul Rosenzweig, a former official at the Department of Homeland Security, was quoted in the Washington Post saying:
Five years is a reasonable time frame. 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.
The Washington Post quoted other “officials” as saying that the new framework has been under construction for more than a year.
An indicated by the text of the guidelines, Matthew Olsen, the head of the NCTC, and James Clapper, director of U.S. National Intelligence, approved them on Wednesday and Attorney General Eric Holder followed suit on Thursday.
As expected, such an extraordinary expansion of the power of the federal government over private information and communications of citizens not suspected of committing a crime has riled up the segment of our Republic concerned with the rapid repeal of our civil liberties.
The New American faithfully has reported these frequent assaults on constitutional freedom. For example, there is the story that:
[t]he Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center (NOC) released its Publicly Available Social Media Monitoring and Situational Awareness Initiative last year and in that report the intelligence-gathering arm of the DHS, the Office of Operations Coordination and Planning (OPS) gives itself permission to “gather, store, analyze, and disseminate” data on millions of users of social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) and business networking sites (Linkedin).
Other federal affronts to privacy, security, and the Bill of Rights are listed in the Washington Post piece:
Those [civil liberties] advocates have repeatedly clashed with the administration over a host of national security issues, including its military detention without trial of individuals in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay, its authorization of the killing of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in a drone strike in Yemen, and its prosecution of an unprecedented number of suspects in the leaking of classified information.
As readers will recall, al-Awlaki was assassinated by a Hellfire missile fired from a CIA Predator drone — and his son was killed by the same type drone two weeks later — on orders from President Obama, who had included the names of the two Americans on his infamous kill list. Notably and tragically, neither of these men was ever accused of a crime (other than speaking against American foreign policy) nor afforded any of the due process protections guaranteed by the Constitution.