If you thought "Military Intelligence" was an oxymoron...
Here's something to lose sleep over:
Frustrated by poor federal cooperation, states and cities are building their own network of intelligence centers led by police to help detect and disrupt terrorist plots.
It seems that while many folks have been casting a wary eye on the Bush Administration as regards the NSA call-data mining, the various TSA programs, etc., the 'local' (as opposed to 'federal') officials have been implmenting the same types of programs on the QT.
Civil liberties advocates worry the fledgling fusion centers could stray into monitoring people engaged in lawful activities, as some members of new police homeland security units have done.
As well they should be. Remember that the police are about maintaining law and order. And, to be quite frank, there are many activities that, while protected under our Constitution, are not usually felt to be consistent with an 'orderly' society. And, given that police are trained to focus on the unusual, this type of intelligence operation will be attracted to such activities as "...a vegans protest at a HoneyBaked Ham store...", putting an increased strain on the relationship between the government and the governed.
Unfortunately, as this type of operation is decentralized, you are going to find there is a lot of duplication of effort (which means even more resources targeting red herrings, while the real bad guys are ignored); there will be a lot more data to sift through (leading to even more 'false positives'); and oversight, consistently applied, will be next to impossible.
Eventually, we are simply going to have to yank our collective heads out of the sand, and have the debate over how much liberty we are willing to give up in order to have a feeling of increased security. And, this is a debate in which all of society must participate. Who knows - maybe that will be on the agenda of the new Congress.
Update: On a related topic, Bruce Schneier discusses a recently-released report on privacy issues related to the Secure Flight program. Given the government's track record of protecting sensitive information about people, there is definitely cause for concern.
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