The FBI is increasing its scrutiny of both visitors to the United States and American citizens under a new plan.
The federal agency is in the process of hiring nearly 120 new full-time private contractors to “amass and screen data” on the activities and movements of those the government feels may pose a threat to the nation. The information gathered on citizens and foreign tourists and students and citizens will be sent to the Terrorist Screening Center, a branch of the FBI.
As noted previously by political watchdogs, various branches of the federal government have deemed pro-life supporters, gun owners, returning veterans, conservatives, patriot groups, Tea Party activists and Libertarians as potential terrorists. Whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations regarding the National Security Agency (NSA) rocked the entire world and exposed the high-tech spying by the department.
The TSC’s own website says its mission is to maintain “the U.S. government’s consolidated Terrorist Watchlist,” which it calls “a single database of identifying information about those known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terrorist activity.”
The FBI has come under criticism from both sides of the spectrum. It has changed its mission statement and now focuses more on national security than it does law enforcement.
The ACLU released a report in September saying the bureau has been transformed into a domestic intelligence agency and is now a threat to American freedom, as Off The Grid News reported. The transformation came after 9/11.
“Modern technological innovations have significantly increased the threat to America’s liberty by giving today’s FBI the capability to collect, store and analyze data about millions of innocent Americans,” the report charged. “The excessive secrecy with which it cloaks these domestic intelligence gathering operations has crippled constitutional oversight mechanisms.”
But all the digital snooping did nothing to protect Boston Marathon runners and attendees from the acts of the bombers, even after Russian intelligence agencies repeatedly warned the US about the potential danger the young men posed.
The Terrorist Screening Center “Statement of Work” reveals that the facility is staffed by “officials from multiple agencies, including the FBI, DHS, DOS, Transportation and Security Administration, and the United States Customs and Border Protection,” World Net Daily reported. The 116 new hires being recruited will reportedly fill positions in the operations-support division at the Vienna, Virginia, facility and an unidentified “alternate site.”
Part of the TSC evaluation process reportedly involves maintaining the terrorism watch list. An excerpt from the FBI’s website on “Safeguarding Civil Liberties” reads:
“Such reviews help ensure terrorist identity data is ‘thorough, accurate, and current,’ and meets the federal government’s strict criteria for watch listing. Complaints and misidentifications are addressed and any errors are corrected.”
The webpage goes on to state that both recent and projected escalations of “encounter activity” necessitates the need for the center’s services, according to WND. The TSC typically averages about 275 requests for review services each day. That statistic represents a 27 percent jump from 2012 and a 70 percent increase for reviews since 2011. The agency reportedly expects “encounter volume” to continue to increase at a “steady pace.”
The debate over national security vs. privacy rights of Americans citizens will not likely evaporate any time soon. The NSA domestic spying scandal rages on, with the country still divided on whether to deem Edward Snowden a patriot or a traitor. Perhaps we should consider what Founding Father Thomas Jefferson once said, “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”
What do you think about the FBI’s expansion into national security?