U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder delivers a national secu
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder delivers a national secu

The Obama administration has crafted new guidelines that will extend the amount of time the U.S. intelligence community can retain personal information about Americans, even if they have no connection with terrorism.

The new rules, approved Thursday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, allow the National Counterterrorism Center, NCTC, to keep the information gathered by the government's various intelligence agencies for five years, as opposed to the previous six-month period.  The center was created in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to serve as the main intelligence unit to analyze and investigate possible terrorist threats.

The administration began revising the guidelines after the failed bombing of a U.S.-bound jetliner on Christmas Day 2009.  A review found the intelligence community failed to share the necessary information that could have prevented the attacker, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, from boarding the plane.

The new guidelines have raised concerns from advocates of civil liberties about the possible violation of privacy.  But administration officials say the new rules have several safeguards to protect privacy, including limits on the National Counterterrorism Center's ability to share the data with other agencies.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.