The dangers to individual citizens as a result of Top Secret America are now in full public view. The web of agencies involved in intelligence-gathering has grown to “4,058 federal, state and local organizations, each with its own counterterrorism responsibilities and jurisdictions,” and it now
collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U. S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing. [Emphasis added.]
The Post found that the technologies and techniques which were “honed for use on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have migrated into the hands of law enforcement agencies in America. The FBI is building a database with the names and ... personal information ... of thousands of U. S. citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously. (Emphasis added.)
The Post’s findings paint a picture of a country at a crossroads, where long-standing privacy principles are under challenge by these new efforts to keep the nation safe.
As one example, in Memphis the technology now allows police officers to “troll” for suspects through the use of a military-grade infrared camera mounted in the cruiser. The camera moves eerily from side to side, scanning for license plates and then analyzing the results instantly.
Suddenly, a red light flashed on the cruiser’s screen along with the word “warrant.”
“Got a live one!” an officer called out: “Let’s do it!”
The Maricopa, Arizona, County Sheriff’s Facial Recognition Unit uses the same technology provided by L-1 Identity Solutions in war zones to record 9,000 biometric digital mug shots every month.