Pentagon to shut down controversial domestic threat data base

The Pentagon said it is shutting down a counter-intelligence reporting system and database called TALON that came under fire for monitoring the activities of hundreds of anti-war activists.

Pentagon to shut down controversial domestic threat data base
The Pentagon said it is shutting down a counter-intelligence reporting system and database called TALON that came under fire for monitoring the activities of hundreds of anti-war activists.

The system will be shut down September 17 and reporting on threats to US military installations in the United States will be shifted to the FBI, said Colonel Gary Keck, a Pentagon spokesman.

"It was terminated because reporting had declined significantly, both quantitatively and qualitatively so," he said. "The analytical value was pretty slim."

Keck was unable to explain the decline but the system has been a source of controversy since media revelations in December 2005 that it was used to gather unverified reports of peace activists and others as alleged threats to US military facilities.

The Pentagon said it will keep a copy of an electronic database of threat reports created as part of the system but new reports will go to an FBI database called Guardian until it devises an alternative reporting system.

James Clapper, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, had said in April that he was moving to end the program. Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England signed the order shutting it down.

The Pentagon said it "will propose a system to streamline such threat reporting and better meet the Defense Department's needs."

Keck said Pentagon officials will have access to the FBI database and will still evaluate law enforcement and other reports of threats to US military facilities.

"We continue to collect (threat) information from the field from law enforcement, security personnel, like we always have. That will not stop. Obviously we need to do that," Keck said.

The TALON reporting system was run by a little known Pentagon entity called the Counter-Intelligence Field Activity (CIFA), which maintained a data base with some 13,000 threat reports, according a inspector general's report in June.

The Defense Department's inspector general concluded that CIFA acted legally in collecting information on US citizens because the reports were gathered for law enforcement rather than intelligence purposes.

However, the inspector general's review of 1,113 reports that were purged from the TALON database after the media disclosures in December 2005 found that 263 reports dealt with anti-war protests.

It also found that 571 US residents were named in the purged reports.

It was unclear what effect ending the TALON reporting system will have on CIFA, which was created in September 2002 by former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

The Washington Post reported that it spent more than one billion dollars through last October, and had a staff of 400 full-time employees and 800-900 contract workers.

AFP
Last Mod: 22 Ağustos 2007, 18:25
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