Most Americans are completely unaware of the 72 new data mining operations around the country, which use a collection of government and private sector sources to spy on Americans. The ACLU has warned that these fusion centers are unregulated by the federal government, use extreme secrecy, utilize the military in local law enforcement in “troubling ways,” and use data mining that threatens our privacy. Fusion centers are using these data mining programs to label certain groups as “potential threats,” and then monitoring their activities closely. Ron Paul supporters, anti-war activists, black universities, peaceful protestors, Islamic groups, and those not supportive of Israel have all qualified as “potential threats” in Florida, Virginia, Texas, Missouri, and Washington State. In fact, the violation of civil liberties is so severe that many of the agencies that operate these fusion centers have refused to comply with document requests guaranteed under the Freedom of Information Act. The ACLU has filed suit to compel the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center (Illinois’ fusion center) to release the requested documents.
As if this imposition on our privacy was not enough, the FBI is now seeking applications for computer programers capable of building an application that spies on social networking sites like fox news, msnbc, twitter, and Facebook. They claim it is in the interest of “national security.” The proposed application will look at certain keywords, such as anti-Israeli rhetoric and then catalog the people responsible for the tweets or posts as potential terrorists who will be surveilled under the Patriot Act. Two British tourists were recently arrested and deported for posting controversial tweets saying they were going to dig up Marilyn Monroe and “destroy America.” They were obviously talking about partying, but Homeland Security insisted on searching their luggage for shovels before they were deported. Not sure how great these developments are for the American tourism industry….