The U.S. Government's Historic Effort To Monitor Americans

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The U.S. government is in the midst of a far-reaching intelligence-gathering effort, to collect information about thousands of Americans, even though many haven't been accused of wrongdoing.  It's all in the name of counterterrorism and the system uses many techniques employed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

An action like taking a tourist snapshot of a bridge or a ferry could land one in a federal counterterrorism database.  And the system involves local police, for example in Memphis, Tenn., police are using infrared cameras to scan the license plates of parked cars, as they try to find terrorists before they strike.

Is that worthwhile tracking of possible terrorist activity, or the beginning of a police state? We speak with William Arkin, a national security columnist for the Washington Post and co-author of the "Top Secret America" series in the Washington Post.

This segment aired on December 30, 2010.


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