Monday, December 19, 2005

More Cops Than Robbers

There are more people watching Americans than we thought. Way more. The big revelation on Friday was that the National Security Agency was eavesdropping on citizen telephone conversations without a warrant. Today, we have confirmation that the Defense Department is keeping an eye on us as well, holding the Posse Comitatus law to be as outdated as the US Constitution. Walter Pincus's story in the Washington Post indicates not only is the Pentagon spying on us, it is doing so without Congressional oversight.

The Pentagon's newest counterterrorism agency, charged with protecting military facilities and personnel wherever they are, is carrying out intelligence collection, analysis and operations within the United States and abroad, according to a Pentagon fact sheet on the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, provided to The Washington Post.

CIFA is a three-year-old agency whose size and budget remain secret. It has grown from an agency that coordinated policy and oversaw the counterintelligence activities of units within the military services and Pentagon agencies to an analytic and operational organization with nine directorates and ever-widening authority.

Its Directorate of Field Activities (DX) "assists in preserving the most critical defense assets, disrupting adversaries and helping control the intelligence domain," the fact sheet said. Those roles can range from running roving patrols around military bases and facilities to surveillance of potentially threatening people or organizations inside the United States. The DX also provides "on-site, real time . . . support in hostile areas worldwide to protect both U.S. and host nation personnel from a variety of threats," the fact sheet said.

...CIFA manages the Pentagon database that includes Talon reports, consisting of raw, unverified information picked up by the military services on suspicious activities that could involve terrorist threats. The Pentagon acknowledged last week that the Talon database contained reports on peaceful civilian protests and demonstrations that should have been purged long ago under Defense Department regulations.

...A former senior Pentagon intelligence official, familiar with CIFA, said yesterday, "They started with force protection from terrorists, but when you go down that road, you soon are into everything . . . where terrorists get their money, who they see, who they deal with."

He added, noting that there had been no congressional oversight of CIFA, that the Defense Department is "too big, too rich an organization and should not be left unfettered. They rush in where there is a vacuum."
[Emphasis added]

One of the findings of the 9/11 Commission was that there was no integration of intelligence findings and analysis. Because of certain regulations on the books, the CIA was not allowed to talk to the FBI (and vice versa) and the result was that knowledge about Al Qaeda operatives in the US didn't get to the right people.The Patriot Act and other post-9/11 laws were supposed to fix that. I somehow doubt that with the proliferation of federal agencies now engaged in domestic spying any such integration is going on. In fact, because of the sheer numbers of people watching US citizens, that integration may not even be possible.

More importantly, however, is that without Congressional oversight, the Pentagon is now watching us. Peaceful anti-war demonstrators exercising their constitutional rights are filmed by the Pentagon which now admits that they are not removing such reports from their records even after they discover the actions are protected.

I guess the current regime has learned something from history. Unfortunately for us, what it has learned is from the Soviet Union on how to control the civilian population.


Blogger Willy Jo said...

thisn commet just orbbed rite on up

you cheetin batch thars no way with know commets that yer in second place. you'll burn in the hither after in firey pit fer yer actions and beelzabud shall make you his ho fer eterntity.

6:26 AM  

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