Americans' data to be held longer under counterterrorism rules

WASHINGTON Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:08pm EDT

Armed police guard the outside of the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Virginia, October 6, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Armed police guard the outside of the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Virginia, October 6, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Counterterrorism officials will keep certain information about American citizens and legal residents for up to five years, rather than the previous six months, in a bid to do a better job tracking down terrorism suspects, according to new guidelines made public on Thursday.

The guidelines, approved by Attorney General Eric Holder, represent the latest step taken by the U.S. government to try to improve its ability to guard against terrorism amid an ongoing debate over whether efforts to bolster American security are coming at a cost of individual rights and privacy.

The guidelines state that certain data "may be retained and continually assessed for a period of up to five years" by the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to determine whether the data relates to a terrorism threat.

The Washington Post posted a copy of the guidelines here%20GuidelinesonTerror.pdf

Previously, the National Counterterrorism Center was required to destroy information about U.S. citizens or residents within 180 days unless a connection to terrorism was found.

The guidelines showed that Matthew Olsen, the head of the NCTC, and James Clapper, director of U.S. National Intelligence, signed off on the new steps on Wednesday and Holder did so on Thursday.

"These guidelines permit NCTC to access and acquire United States person information for the purpose of determining whether the information is reasonably believed to constitute terrorism information and thus may be permanently retained, used, and disseminated," the guidelines state.

Robert Litt, the general counsel in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the counterterrorism agency, said the old guidelines were "very limiting."

"On Day One, you may look at something and think that it has nothing to do with terrorism. Then six months later, all of a sudden, it becomes relevant," Litt told the Washington Post.

(Reporting By JoAnne Allen; Editing by Will Dunham)

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Comments (5)
Eventually we’re going to have to live in a steel cage a mile underneath the Earth in order to protect us from both the “bad bad people” and from ourselves based off of the logic that the Counterterrorism agencies justify their actions.

Ben Franklin once said, “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

It’s a shame that the government does not see it the correct way.

Mar 23, 2012 3:40am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Xira wrote:
The last major nation to engage in these types of ‘permanent surveillance’ activities was NAZI Germany.

I just hope the Chinese Army is willing to ride to our rescue like we did for the Europeans, otherwise the future is indeed very bleak in Fascist Amerika.

Mar 23, 2012 5:42am EDT  --  Report as abuse
SBMM wrote:
War is coming. Buy guns, gold and long lasting foods. Prepare for the battles that will come right to your door. Have a plan for escape for your family and those you care about for the liberal machine will not stop until armed revolts ends them with revolution to return America to the constitution and the intent of the founding fathers when they created this nation. The liberal agenda must not be allowed to continue or this nation will be lost and this land and our lives will cease to be free.

Mar 23, 2012 10:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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