The Bush administration is pressing Congress to approve the most sweeping expansion of federal law-enforcement authority since the Cold War. But would U.S. officials even know what to do with the deluge of information their new power could make available?
Yet even if the president gets his way, it could give rise to one of the classic problems of the information age: The capacity to produce oceans of data often isn't matched by sufficient tools to sort and interpret it.
Attorney General John Ashcroft acknowledged in congressional testimony Monday that the proposals now before lawmakers might not have done anything to stop the attack two weeks ago. And senior Justice Department officials have acknowledged in interviews in the days since Sept. 11 that there is some justifiable skepticism about the Federal Bureau of Investigation's ability to handle the massive amounts of information being generated by the current terrorism investigation, let alone head off future attacks.
Only two weeks since the mass carnage at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, evidence is emerging that urgent warnings from Washington aren't getting out to all local police. [Privacy Digest]