The Administration's schizophrenic view of domestic spying

While the PR campaign for NSA spying rages on, the Pentagon is quietly apologizing for their own efforts.

William Arkin at the Post finds it "funny" that while the Administration is making a full-court press on the legitimacy of NSA spying (the intensity of the push may give an indication as to its true legitimacy), the Pentagon is busy saying sorry for its own domestic spying activities.

[T]he Pentagon also released a 2-page January 13 memorandum (pdf) directing "all DOD intelligence and counterintelligence (CI) personnel" to receive "refresher training on the policies for collection, retention, dissemination and use of information related to U.S. persons."

The Defense Department database was prepared by the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), which I had already written about and Walter Pincus began reporting on for this newspaper in November.

Now Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordan England is not only order sensitivity training at the Pentagon, but also directing CIFA to purge its "TALON" database of "any reports that should not be in the database.

TALON was a program initiated in May 2003 by former Deputy Secretary Pail Wolfowitz to provide the military services with a common reporting scheme for "non-validated" threat warnings with a possible link to terrorism. At least between 2003 and December of last year, that reporting was used to characterize the "threat" to the U.S. military domestically, and included reporting on incidents that had nothing to do with terrorism or had any conceivable terrorist connection.

It's somewhat funny that the Pentagon is now directing a review and purging of the TALON program, even though I reported on December 22 that the database in question is actually one that is larger and broader than TALON called the Joint Protection Enterprise Network (JPEN) database, an intelligence and law enforcement sharing system managed by CIFA.

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