U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens - WSJ.com
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.
Not everyone was on board.
"This is a sea change in the way that the government interacts with the general public," Mary Ellen Callahan, chief privacy officer of the Department of Homeland Security, argued in the meeting, according to people familiar with the discussions.
A week later, the attorney general signed the changes into effect.
....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.
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