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America wrestles with privacy vs. security

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• Recent revelations that the FBI has been gathering thousands of pages of intelligence on such organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the environmental group Greenpeace. Other groups that have been part of peaceful protests find that they are being investigated as well. "There is no need to open a counterterrorism file when people are simply exercising their First Amendment rights," says Ann Beeson, associate legal director of the ACLU.

• Efforts to use state driver's licenses as a tool for intelligence gathering on foreigners. At the annual meeting of the National Governors Association recently, chairman Mike Huckabee (R) of Arkansas, echoed other critics in warning that driver's licenses could become de facto national identity cards.

• The extension of US military activity into domestic intelligence-gathering and law enforcement. This raises questions about the legal restrictions on domestic military activity known as "posse comitatus," restrictions that date back to 1878.

The Pentagon justified this extension in a report last month titled "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support." Pentagon officials wrote: "Our adversaries consider US territory an integral part of a global theater of combat. We must therefore have a strategy that applies to the domestic context the key principles that are driving the transformation of US power projection and joint expeditionary warfare."

What military leaders see as a new threat at home, others see differently.

"In the absence of clear guidelines and effective oversight, the US military is becoming increasingly involved in domestic operations, including surveillance activities that blur the traditional distinction between foreign intelligence and domestic security," warns the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy.

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