Unmonitored, these untrained local police intelligence units could turn into the infamous Red Squads that suppressed dissent and protests before the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act limited the power of local police.

Local and state police are forming intelligence units and spying on ordinary Americans with little understanding of or concern for privacy laws. Their mixed results, U.S. News & World Report says, include targeting “save the whale” groups, labor leaders and anti-war protestors. Untrained, overzealous local police “intelligence” agents have harassed library patrons surfing the Web and infiltrated anti-war groups and animal rights groups. At the same time, the Justice Department and states are setting up “fusion centers” to pool databases of multiple jurisdictions apparently with few privacy safeguards.