Catherine J. Frompovich
December 12, 2012, The Wall Street Journal [WSJ] published “U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens”, which The Washington Post Group’s Slate highlighted December 13th. Apparently these articles captured the attention of two U.S. Congressmen who sit on the same House of Representative committees, Judiciary and Oversight & Government Reform.
Plaudits must go to the Honorable Jason Chaffetz of Utah and the Honorable Trey Gowdy of South Carolina for their December 17, 2012 letter to Attorney General of the United States Eric H Holder, Jr. regarding Holder’s purported granting of new powers to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to store dossiers on U.S. citizens who are not suspected of any criminal activity.
In their letter to AG Holder, the Congressmen say,
The WSJ goes on to report the new rules allow the NCTC to keep data about innocent United States citizens for up to five years and to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. Previously, both were prohibited.
…we are concerned such sweeping, fundamental changes would be made to existing policy without public input and Congressional approval.
And they ask AG Holder four very specific questions, each of which has a few sub-questions, which they request to be answered by 5PM January 31, 2013. The prime questions query:
- Does the Justice Department believe the NCTC, or any other government agency, has the power/legal authority to keep data about citizens who are not suspected of a crime?
- Does the Justice Department believe the NCTC, or any other government agency, has the power/legal authority to analyze government databases for suspicious patterns of behavior?
- Does the Justice Department believe it has the power to change the rules governing who NCTC has the power/legal authority to store data on and how data may be used without approval from Congress?
- The Privacy Act of 1974 bars the federal government from sharing data for any purpose other than the reason for which the data was initially collected, unless the sharing meets a specific exception contained in the Act.
One has to wonder whether AG Holder will answer the Congressmen’s letter in view of the fact that President Obama granted Holder executive privilege over “Fast and Furious” documents, and Holder may expect the same ‘perk’ about his granting new powers to the NCTC. If that would be the case, and Holder refuses to answer, invoking executive privilege, perhaps, it’s time to consider impeachment proceedings against both the president and the attorney general, who are not above the law of the land nor the U.S. Constitution.
Furthermore, members of Congress ought to look into all the Presidential Executive Orders (PEOs) that seemingly grant one-man-rule to presidents. PEOs are not granted to presidents under the U.S. Constitution nor within the supposed “checks and balances” system under which the United States government is supposed to operate. PEOs should be prohibited from being issued by presidents as they, in essence, grant dictatorial powers to a one-man rule regime, which presidents have gifted themselves with that privilege! If some members of Congress don’t like what’s happened with the NCTC new powers, boy will they get a surprise when PEOs are invoked and kick in!
The new NCTC Guidelines sweeping away decades-long protections by allowing the military and intelligence agencies to target innocent Americans for collection.