The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Police Intelligence Gathering Practices Threaten National Security and Civil Liberties: A Brennan Center for Justice Report

The Brennan Center's newest report of the National Security and Local Police survey blows the whistle on local police information gathering and surveillance activities in the United States. The Brennan Center for Justice, a branch of New York University School of Law, concluded that "police intelligence gatherinComputer Networksg lacks standards, and threatens national security and civil liberties" in its up-to-date survey titled "National Security and Local Police", by Michael Price. According to the report, local police have few standards or oversight mechanisms by which to catalog and share information, causing inconsistencies across organizations as well as overwhelming backlogs of unsorted -- much of it sensitive and otherwise personal -- data on residents of the United States.

Much of the surveillance activities stem from the September 11th attacks, with existing intelligence gathering programs once placed into overdrive in order to compile and assess "suspicious activity", and thus extended to local jurisdictions in the United States. Under the premise of "investigating terrorism cases and data 'fusion centers'", new legislation allowing government oversight and funding for data surveillance programs has been implemented. As a result of the push for surveillance, many organizations are initiating programs without sufficient quality control, accountability, or local oversight. The amassed irrelevant data creates chaos in databases and otherwise buries the small percentage of useful information. The Brennan Center analyzes the situation and makes concise recommendations for improving local intelligence networks. The report comes at a time when the United States is being scrutinized for its personal data gathering practices (actual or alleged) on an international stage. It is essential that the U.S. manage its domestic intelligence programs first, or face even deeper criticisms from intelligence partners abroad.

The Homeland Security Digital Library offers collections of resources on Electronic Surveillance, Fusion Centers, and Domestic Terrorism (Extremism), as well as on Jihadist or Islamist Domestic Terrorism. Please note that certain resources are available by login only.