Truth to Power

Obama Restarts Illegal Spying Program

In News, Politics on June 20, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Who’d have thought that the great Barack Obama, the guy who in 2008 presented himself as the liberal alternative to Hillary Clinton, would be continuing some of the Bush administration’s most odious anti-terrorism policies?

From Raw Story:

The Pentagon’s spy unit has quietly begun to rebuild a database for tracking potential terrorist threats that was shut down after it emerged that it had been collecting information on American anti-war activists.

The Defense Intelligence Agency filed notice this week that it plans to create a new section called Foreign Intelligence and Counterintelligence Operation Records, whose purpose will be to “document intelligence, counterintelligence, counterterrorism and counternarcotic operations relating to the protection of national security.”

But while the unit’s name refers to “foreign intelligence,” civil liberties advocates and the Pentagon’s own description of the program suggest that Americans will likely be included in the new database.

FICOR replaces a program called Talon, which the DIA created in 2002 under then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as part of the counterterrorism efforts following the 9/11 attacks. It was disbanded in 2007 after it emerged that Talon had retained information on anti-war protesters, including Quakers, even after it was determined they posed no threat to national security.

So what’s wrong this? Well, Talon was stopped but the illegal information the program obtained will possibly be transferred to the Foreign Intelligence and Counterintelligence Operation Records (FICOR). It kind of makes you wonder why the non-terrorism-related domestic information obtained by Talon was even kept by the Defense Intelligence Agency. Also, given the title of the program contains the word “Foreign” it raises the question as to just how much “domestic” spying will be going on. Remember the good old days when the government needed a warrant prior to a search and seizure and spying on Americans was off limits without said warrant? Well, those days are over. Given FICOR will retain Social Security numbers, and only Americans have such numbers, it’s pretty obvious that there is a domestic component to this program:

“It’s a little hard to tell what this is exactly, but we do know that DIA took over ‘offensive counterintelligence’ for the DoD once CIFA was abandoned,” said Mike German, a former FBI Special Agent who is now policy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union. “It therefore makes sense that this new DIA data base would be collecting the same types of information that CIFA collected improperly, so Americans should be just as concerned.”

The Defense Department has also started collecting Suspicious Activity Reports, German pointed out, “which they share with federal, state and local law enforcement through the FBI eGuardian system.”

Tuesday’s announcement in the Federal Register was vague about the kinds of intelligence the new records center will hold.

It said that it would hold information on “individuals involved in, or of interest to, DoD intelligence, counterintelligence, counterterrorism and counter-narcotic operations or analytical projects as well as individuals involved in foreign intelligence and/or training activities.”

The kinds of records it intends to hold, according to the Federal Register, include “Social Security Number (SSN), address, citizenship documentation, biometric data, passport number, vehicle identification number and vehicle/vessel license data.”

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Stacy and Katrina vandenHeuvel, Amy L. Ringenbach. Amy L. Ringenbach said: RT @SecyClintonblog: Why has US restarted the illegal Talon spy program which had to be shut down under Rumsefeld ? @ProgresPantheon […]

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