America's Terror Center May Be Analyzing You
National Counterterrorism Center given access to almost any gov't database
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2012 7:38 AM CST
Updated Dec 13, 2012 7:59 AM CST
National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen arrives for a closed-door oversight hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(Newser) – If you've sought treatment at a VA hospital, applied for a government-backed mortgage, or gotten on a plane recently, be warned: The little-known National Counterterrorism Center may be analyzing you. The Wall Street Journal used documents accessed through Freedom of Information Act requests to report on counterterrorism rules that were approved in March that upend the way the government is permitted to dig into the lives of ordinary citizens. Previously, the NCTC could only store info on citizens suspected of terror or somehow tied to a terror case; now, it can copy almost any government database and both store the data for up to five years and scrutinize it in an attempt to pinpoint suspicious patterns—even if the Americans it's tracking are innocent ones.

The NCTC is tasked with data-crunching, not spying or surveilling, and creates the files used to assemble the FBI's terror watchlist. The Journal tracks how the failure of that list—in the case of the 2009 "underwear bomber"—ultimately led to these new permissions. The previous requirement that the NCTC remove all data on innocent Americans "upon discovery" from the databases it was analyzing was burdensome; it couldn't hunt for patterns amid giant government databases, and it argued that someone who seems innocent now may not be later. Thanks to exemptions provided by the Federal Privacy Act, the NCTC isn't breaking the law, but its move didn't go unchallenged. "This is a sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public," argued the Department of Homeland Security's chief privacy officer as the changes were being debated. Click to read the Journal's full investigation.

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Imhotep
Dec 15, 2012 8:26 AM CST
I know that law enforcement over the years have stopped purported acts of Terrorism from happening but the details on how they were able to find these people and stop them is kept a secret. The question is, what works and what doesn't. Since 9/11 you would have thought they would have been able to narrow down what actually works and get rid of all of these departments that are doing nothing more than wasting time and money. One thing I've learned , it's much easier to create a government department than it is to get rid of it. The American tax payer does not like supporting bench warmers. Stop the waste.
Perotstheman
Dec 15, 2012 6:18 AM CST
if "they" want to put my name on their "LIST" so be it. Whatever works...looking at the big picture I can see the necessity for "clandestine" information gathering,analyzing and sorting. It's how they act upon individuals they have info on that is the important thing. Those of us that live our daily lives pursuing our collective "happiness" and loving our fellow humans, really have no reason to be put off by some "list-Building" entity busily sorting information,identifying troubling patterns, practices or ideologies in order to better balance our ability to continue our "pursuits" of happiness and "freedom". Some things are necessary to an orderly,peaceful society and the "ways and means" of protecting that on some levels..really don't matter to us.My name on a list is a miniscule matter to my overall daily existence and..so what.
1freeusa
Dec 14, 2012 5:37 AM CST
looks like the next time we go to war to promote democracy and fight for freedom, it will be against our own government. ooops! probablly just got marked again on the list......dont read this or you will be considered a accomplice....would you believe Mexico has more freedom than the U S.