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Friday, January 13, 2006

You're Being Watched: Efforts to Collect Data on Americans Go Far Beyond the NSA's Domestic Spying Program

Published on Thursday, January 12, 2006 by the Los Angeles Times
by Laura K. Donohue
 
Congress will soon hold hearings on the National Security Agency's domestic spying program, secretly authorized by President Bush in 2002. But that program is just the tip of the iceberg.
 
Since 9/11, the expansion of efforts to gather and analyze information on U.S. citizens is nothing short of staggering. The government collects vast troves of data, including consumer credit histories and medical and travel records. Databases track Americans' networks of friends, family and associates, not just to identify who is a terrorist but to try to predict who might become one.
 
Remember Total Information Awareness, retired Adm. John Poindexter's effort to harness all government and commercial databases to preempt national security threats? The idea was that disparate, seemingly mundane behaviors can reveal criminal intent when viewed together. More disturbing, it assumed that deviance from social norms can be an early indicator of terrorism. Congress killed that program in 2003, but according to the Associated Press, many related projects continued.
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