Freedom of Information Act requests patiently pursued for months reveals that the Department of Justice has signed off on policies which allow the National Counterterrorism Center to collect copies of databases from other federal agencies on just about anything. The original uses and justifications for those data is blithely ignored, in effect hoodwinking the public about government intentions – sort of a legal bait and switch.
With apologies that the main article is behind a pay-wall, we quote:
The rules now allow the little-known National Counterterrorism Center to examine the government files of U.S. citizens for possible criminal behavior, even if there is no reason to suspect them. That is a departure from past practice, which barred the agency from storing information about ordinary Americans unless a person was a terror suspect or related to an investigation.
Now, NCTC can copy entire government databases—flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others. The agency has new authority to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, and to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. Previously, both were prohibited. Data about Americans “reasonably believed to constitute terrorism information” may be permanently retained.
Ordinary citizens innocently going about their lives – and leaving a data trail behind them – will be the ones most represented in this national database, and thus, for officials pressed to serve up the usual suspects for least cost, the most readily available for prosecution under profiling.
Added later: Another description via Wired.