agents scrutinize all in name of surveillance

The government dramatically increased its monitoring of U.S. citizens after Sept. 11, in ways that even some Bush allies now question.

agents scrutinize all in name of surveillancefrom herald net: As Americans consider whether they are more safe or less five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, one thing is certain: They are being monitored by their own government in ways unforeseen before 19 terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Within minutes of the strikes, U.S. law-enforcement and intelligence-gathering authorities mobilized to find the culprits and prevent another attack. They ramped up the tapping of Americans’ phone calls and voicemails. They watched Internet traffic and e-mails as never before. They tailed greater numbers of people and into places previously deemed off-limits, such as mosques.

They clandestinely accessed bank and credit card transactions and school records. They monitored travel. And they broke into homes without notice, looking for signs of terrorist activity and copying entire file cabinets and computer hard drives.

Authorities even tried to get inside peoples’ heads, using supercomputers and “predictive” software to analyze enormous amounts of personal data about them and their friends and associates in an effort to foretell who might become a terrorist, and when.