More power to the Pentagon

News & Politics

Only one thin piece of legislation stands between the world knowing all your private information. That piece of legislation is the Privacy Act, which requires government agencies show an individual any records kept on him or her. It also requires agencies to follow "fair information practices" when gathering and handling personal data and it places restrictions on how agencies can share an individual's data with other people and agencies. Finally, it lets individuals sue the government for violating its provisions.

But the Pentagon has pushed legislation on Capitol Hill that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information gathered about US citizens with the Pentagon, CIA, and other intelligence agencies, as long as the data is deemed to be related to foreign intelligence. This would give thePentagon full access to the FBI's massive collection of data, including information on citizens with absolutely no connection to terrorism or espionage.

'We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing," Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an article Sunday in the Washington Post.

So who will be doing all this spying for the Pentagon? Their Counterintelligence Field Activity agency, which was created by Bush three years ago but no one's ever heard of it because it's budget, mission, and staff are kept secret.

Glad to know the Pentagon, at least, is still entitled to its privacy.

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