A Secret Defense Department Database of Protesters

protest1a.jpgFrom MSNBC:

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. . . .

The Defense Department document is the first inside look at how the U.S. military has stepped up intelligence collection inside this country since 9/11, which now includes the monitoring of peaceful anti-war and counter-military recruitment groups. . . .

The DOD database obtained by NBC News includes nearly four dozen anti-war meetings or protests, including some that have taken place far from any military installation, post or recruitment center. One “incident” included in the database is a large anti-war protest at Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles last March that included effigies of President Bush and anti-war protest banners. Another incident mentions a planned protest against military recruiters last December in Boston and a planned protest last April at McDonald’s National Salute to America’s Heroes — a military air and sea show in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Fort Lauderdale protest was deemed not to be a credible threat and a column in the database concludes: “US group exercising constitutional rights.” Two-hundred and forty-three other incidents in the database were discounted because they had no connection to the Department of Defense — yet they all remained in the database. . . .

There are more interesting facts in this lengthy article, including this one:

Two years ago, the Defense Department directed a little known agency, Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, to establish and “maintain a domestic law enforcement database that includes information related to potential terrorist threats directed against the Department of Defense.” Then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz also established a new reporting mechanism known as a TALON or Threat and Local Observation Notice report. TALONs now provide “non-validated domestic threat information” from military units throughout the United States that are collected and retained in a CIFA database. The reports include details on potential surveillance of military bases, stolen vehicles, bomb threats and planned anti-war protests. In the program’s first year, the agency received more than 5,000 TALON reports. The database obtained by NBC News is generated by Counterintelligence Field Activity.

CIFA is becoming the superpower of data mining within the U.S. national security community. Its “operational and analytical records” include “reports of investigation, collection reports, statements of individuals, affidavits, correspondence, and other documentation pertaining to investigative or analytical efforts” by the DOD and other U.S. government agencies to identify terrorist and other threats. Since March 2004, CIFA has awarded at least $33 million in contracts to corporate giants Lockheed Martin, Unisys Corporation, Computer Sciences Corporation and Northrop Grumman to develop databases that comb through classified and unclassified government data, commercial information and Internet chatter to help sniff out terrorists, saboteurs and spies.

One of the CIFA-funded database projects being developed by Northrop Grumman and dubbed “Person Search,” is designed “to provide comprehensive information about people of interest.” It will include the ability to search government as well as commercial databases. Another project, “The Insider Threat Initiative,” intends to “develop systems able to detect, mitigate and investigate insider threats,” as well as the ability to “identify and document normal and abnormal activities and ‘behaviors,’” according to the Computer Sciences Corp. contract. A separate CIFA contract with a small Virginia-based defense contractor seeks to develop methods “to track and monitor activities of suspect individuals.” . . . .

A short excerpt from the documents obtained by NBC news is available here.

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4 Responses

  1. Dylan says:

    When did “not revealed during routine press conferences” become a synonym for “secret”? I also liked being informed that the $33 million in database contracts had been parceled out to various “corporate giants.” All right-thinking Americans know they should have been given to mom and pop software houses enrolled in some sort of welfare to work scheme.

  2. Paul Gowder says:

    Oh, of course, Dylan. That evil MSM has such a liberal bias. If we were running things and the Pentagon kept files on you, why, NBC would be cheering!

  3. Marc says:

    There is a simple reason why the Pentagon keeps protesters on file. The Pentagon is resposible for the protection and safety of military property, installations and personnel. The reason why the Pentagon keeps protesters on file is because these groups have been known to assault US military personnel. An example is Western Washington University; a group of activists attacked two army recruiters at a job fair. The activists were not merely protesting, they were throwing rocks and stones at the military personnel and a couple actually grabbed and trying to tear off their uniforms. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated occurrence. I’ve had friends run off the road and violence threatened upon them. The Pentagon wants to know what US military personnel are walking into when they enter certain cities so they can avoid being assaulted. They have the right and the obligation to protect US troops from such individuals and to that end they have a right and obligation to know what groups are or may be violent.

  4. I have put together a site with html conversions of various pdf documents related to the Warrantless NSA Wiretapping and Domestic Surveillance Issue. It is at http://thewall.civiblog.org/rsf/house_nsabrief_docs_012006.html .

    On this site You will find an article I wrote, called “Big Brother Is Watching You.” As part of this article, I have converted the pdf of the TALONS “spreadsheet” the 902nd MI Group used, as released by MSNBC. I converted each image to png files, so they are small. Both Positive and Negative Images of each pdf page are there.

    This article also includes 4 MSNBC reports, a September 2005 OMBWatch Report, Congressman Wexler’s reaction, and Shane Harris’ February 23, 2006 National Journal Report “TIA Lives On” reprinted in it’s entirety (with permission).

    The url for “Big Brother Is Watching You” is:


    You can also search Findlaw directly from there.

    I hope You find this useful.