Police May Take Bigger Role in Intelligence

Critics fear Justice Dept. plan would infringe on civil liberties
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 16, 2008 5:04 PM CDT
The changes are part of "a continuum that started back on 9/11," said Bush homeland security adviser Kenneth L. Wainstein.   (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
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(Newser) – The Justice Department has proposed expanding the ability of state and local police to gather intelligence on Americans, share it with federal officials, and hold onto it for a decade, the Washington Post reports. Supporters of the move say authorities would keep a close eye on the new practices to ensure civil liberties are upheld. But critics say it is still a  threat.

The new plan would update rules set in 1993 “to catch up with reality,” and “the new world we live in, but it maintains civil liberties,” says a police organization official. But some worry that the rule changes could allow investigation without fair grounds for suspicion. “It turns police officers into spies on behalf of the federal government,” says a longtime FBI agent who now works for the American Civil Liberties Union. (Read more domestic intelligence stories.)