Living in an Imperial World: Ve Vish To Keep You Zafe, Ja?
Just a little article from today's Washington Post re the latest from our anointed Protectors:
Several thousand law enforcement agencies are creating the foundation of a domestic intelligence system through computer networks that analyze vast amounts of police information to fight crime and root out terror plots.
As federal authorities struggled to meet information-sharing mandates after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, police agencies from Alaska and California to the Washington region poured millions of criminal and investigative records into shared digital repositories called data warehouses, giving investigators and analysts new power to discern links among people, patterns of behavior and other hidden clues.
Those network efforts will begin expanding further this month, as some local and state agencies connect to a fledgling Justice Department system called the National Data Exchange, or N-DEx. Federal authorities hope N-DEx will become what one called a "one-stop shop" enabling federal law enforcement, counterterrorism and intelligence analysts to automatically examine the enormous caches of local and state records for the first time.
Although Americans have become accustomed to seeing dazzling examples of fictional crime-busting gear on television and in movies, law enforcement's search for clues has in reality involved a mundane mix of disjointed computers, legwork and luck.
These new systems are transforming that process. "It's going from the horse-and-buggy days to the space age, that's what it's like," said Sgt. Chuck Violette of the Tucson police department, one of almost 1,600 law enforcement agencies that uses a commercial data-mining system called Coplink...
However, certain cynics and politically-unreliable malcontents have dared to question the Elites:
...But even some advocates of information-sharing technology worry that without proper oversight and enforceable restrictions the new networks pose a threat to basic American values by giving police too much power over information. Timothy Sample, a former intelligence official who runs the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, is among those who think computerized information-sharing is critical to national security but fraught with risks.
"As a nation, our laws have not kept up," said Sample, whose group serves as a professional association of intelligence officials in the government and intelligence contracting executives in the private sector.
Thomas McNamara, chief of the federal Information Sharing Environment office, said a top goal of federal officials is persuading regional systems to adopt most of the federal rules, both for privacy and to build a sense of confidence among law enforcement authorities who might be reluctant to share widely because of security concerns.
"Part of the challenge is to leverage these cutting-edge tools so we can securely and appropriately share that information which supports efforts to protect our communities from future terrorist attacks," McNamara said. "Equally important is that we do so in a manner that fully protects the information privacy and legal rights of all Americans."
Miranda, the Tucson police chief, said there's no overstating the utility of Coplink for his force. But he too acknowledges that such power raises new questions about how to keep it in check and ensure that the trust people place in law enforcement is not misplaced.
"I don't want the people in my community to feel we're behind every little tree and surveilling them," he said. "If there's any kind of inkling that we're misusing our power and our technology, that trust will be destroyed."
Read the whole thing. And remember:
Ve are ze "Only Vuns".
Und ve know vere you liff.
And who your friends are.
And your enemies as well.
And what guns you own.
And how much ammo.
And what drugs you take - prescription and otherwise.
And what drugs you don't take - yet.
And where your children go to school.
And where your children play.
And what you own.
And what you owe.
And what your political beliefs are.
And your religious views as well.
And where you sleep.
And with whom.