Dec. 13, 2012
The Obama administration overruled recommendations from within the US Department of Homeland Security and implemented new guidelines earlier this year that allow the government to gather and analyze intelligence on every single US citizen.
Since the spring, a little-know intelligence agency outside of Washington, DC has been able to circumvent the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution and conduct dragnet surveillance of the entire country, combing massive datasets using advanced algorithms to search and seize personal info on anyone this wish, reports the Wall Street Journal this week.
There’s no safeguard that says only Americans with criminal records are the ones included, and it’s not just suspected terrorists that are considered in the searches either. The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) has been provided with entire government databases and given nearly endless access to intelligence on everyone in the country, regardless of whether or not they’ve done anything that would have made them a person of interest. As long as data is “reasonably believed” to contain “terrorism information,” the agency can do as they wish.
What’s more is the NCTC can retain that information for years, reviewing it whenever they’d like to take a look.
The update to the agency’s policies, reported by RT at the time and reexamined this week in the Journal, expose any person in the country to invasive and nearly endless government surveillance.
“This is a sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public,” Mary Ellen Callahan is reported by the Journal to have said during a Situation Room meeting earlier this year within the walls of the White House. At the time, Callahan was chief privacy officer at DHS as well as one of the only staffers inside the Obama administration concerned with what was about to happen.
According to documents obtained by the Journal through Freedom of Information Act requests and conversations between the paper and persons familiar with that Situation Room sound-off, Ms. Callahan unsuccessfully argued against updating a 2008 Justice Department memo about what intel the NCTC can have and how they use it. Just weeks after that meeting, new guidelines were authorized and, within months, Ms. Callahan was working elsewhere.
Despite her efforts, a 32-page document, “Guidelines for Access, Retention, Use and Dissemination by the National Counterterrorism Center and other Agencies of Information in Datasets Containing Non-Terrorism Information,” went into effect, and with that the NCTC was no longer restricted to only terrorism-related intelligence and instead
“The 2008 memo’s title referred to NCTC’s access to ‘terrorism information’ contained in non-terrorism datasets. The 2012 title simply refers to ‘information’ in those datasets,” reports the Journal. “The removal of the world ‘terrorism’ is an indication of how this memo expands NCTC’s mandate to allow surveillance of US citizens based on more than just the terrorism information.’”
Indeed, the changes aren’t just within the name of the document. The 2012 update to the NCTC’s data-mining policies expand the intelligence the agency can comb while at the same time removing safeguards that were in place for privacy’s sake. Under the new rules, data on innocent Americans can be retained for five years, and intel on anyone “reasonably believed to constitute terrorism information” can be kept until the end of time.
“It’s breathtaking” in its scope, one former senior administration official tells the Journal.
Full Article Here – http://rt.com/usa/news/agency-us-nctc-surveillance-998/