Jan 232006

NSA SPYING ON UNITED STATES CITIZENS may be the least of it. The Department of Defense, in its "‘force protection’—tracking threats and terrorist plots against military installations and personnel inside the United States” is spying far more than the government would like you to know. It’s doing it on the internet, it’s hiding its tracks through the use of proxies, and even the most innocent Americans may be in data bases longer than the law allows.

Pentagon officials have broadly defended CIFA as a legitimate response to the domestic terror threat. But at the same time, they acknowledge that an internal Pentagon review has found that CIFA’s database contained some information that may have violated regulations. The department is not allowed to retain information about U.S. citizens for more than 90 days—unless they are “reasonably believed” to have some link to terrorism, criminal wrongdoing or foreign intelligence. There was information that was “improperly stored,” says a Pentagon spokesman who was authorized to talk about the program (but not to give his name). “It was an oversight.” In a memo last week, obtained by NEWSWEEK, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England ordered CIFA to purge such information from its files—and directed that all Defense Department intelligence personnel receive “refresher training” on department policies.

THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE through TALON (Threat and Local Observation Notice) and CIFA (Counterintelligence Field Activity) has spied on some very “dangerous” groups.

  • Protesters outside Halliburton offices handing out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in Houston
  • An anti war protest at a Quaker meetinghouse in Lake Worth, Florida
  • A Students Against War demonstration at a military recruiting fair at the University of California, Santa Cruz

That Quaker Meeting is typical of what concerns the Department of Defense: ordinary people exercising their civil rights.

A year ago, at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Fla., a small group of activists met to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. What they didn’t know was that their meeting had come to the attention of the U.S. military.

A secret 400-page Defense Department document obtained by NBC News lists the Lake Worth meeting as a “threat” and one of more than 1,500 “suspicious incidents” across the country over a recent 10-month period.

“This peaceful, educationally oriented group being a threat is incredible,” says Evy Grachow, a member of the Florida group called The Truth Project.

HERE IS A WHOLE LIST of “threats” as determined by the DOD [pdf]
Among the “threats:”

  • Numerous protests of military recruiting efforts on college campuses and at recruiting stations
  • Anti war postcard!?
  • Planning a march at Hollywood and Vine

THE GAY PROTEST at NYU was high threat hyperbole:

The network reported that the law school’s gay advocacy group, OUTlaw, was classified as “potentially violent” by the Pentagon.
. . . NBC also reported that a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” protest at University of California Santa Cruz, which included a gay kiss-in, was labeled as a “credible threat” of terrorism by the Pentagon.

THE QUESTION NOW is what else will we find in the Pentagon’s closet? When your government tells you it’s broke, remember this is how it wastes your money and its time.

INADVERTENTLY IS WHAT authorities invariably say when they get caught.

Phew. I always feel much better when the government gets busted doing something and then says it was only a mistake and won’t happen again. Especially when it’s part of a coincidental pattern of such “oversights.”

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