Three More Domestic Spying Programs Revealed

The Department of Homeland Security is acknowledging the existence of three more government programs charged with spying on American citizens in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The programs — Pantheon, Pathfinder and Organizational Shared Space — used a variety of software tools to gather and analyze information about Americans, according to documents obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting. The DHS turned over the papers in response to a December 2008 Freedom of Information Act request. The documents shed new light on the proliferation of domestic intelligence and surveillance efforts after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to the CIR:

Those include a vast array of information-sharing programs, dozens of intelligence “fusion” centers formed by local, state and federal officials, and data-mining projects that involve probing mountains of telecommunications and commercial records for leads.

Details about the programs are contained in so-called “privacy impact assessments,” although officials blacked out large portions of them pointing to security exemptions under federal open-government laws. The documents nonetheless offer hints about the scope of such initiatives.

Sections of the documents that are not redacted describe Pathfinder as an “integrated text search, retrieval, display and analytic tool suite used to analyze intelligence community message traffic,” which would appear to fit the definition of data mining and includes personal information belonging to Americans.

Domestic spying has been a controversial issue since it was revealed five years ago that the National Security Agency eavesdropped on Americans and foreign nationals without warrants, under a secret order signed by President George W. Bush in 2002.

Read the full Center for Investigative Reporting analysis and see the government documents here.


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