This is why the spying thing is scary.
Yesterday I mentioned the Pentagon’s domestic surveillance programs known as Eagle Eyes and TALON.
Today Walter Pincus follows up on that article, discussing the database that was first disclosed by NBC and by William Arkin, a former military intelligence officer and the author of the washingtonpost.com blog Early Warning.
Arkin said he obtained the information, which included a list of entries in the CIFA database, from a military source. The database document included references to incidents in several categories that were deemed suspicious.
Dozens of them involved anti-war and anti-recruiting protests by civilians dating to 2004. A Feb. 5, 2005, Talon report described as a “threat” the planned protest against recruiting at New York University by Army Judge Advocate General personnel. Another entry, concerning Feb. 14, 2005, involved a demonstration planned outside the gates of the base at Fort Collins, Colo.
One refers to a July 3, 2004, “surveillance” report of “suspicious activity by U.S. persons … affiliated with radical Moslems” in Big Bend National Park in Texas.
Arkin’s blog has some concrete examples:
…most important, the database includes hundreds upon hundreds of incidents that are not only labeled “not credible” but also are absurd indicators of any kind of threat. An example:
- August 2004, Atlanta, Georgia, a Navy enlisted man is arrested for driving under the influence by the Cobb County Police Department “and upon search of vehicle, discovered a picture of Usama bin Laden displayed as a screensaver on E-4’s cellular telephone.”
Send that goofball to Guantanamo!
Which is more scary: that the government is collecting such information, or that a number of our duller fellow citizens probably think such collection is legitimate?
The database is jammed packed with these types of silly reports. I’ve already written about CIFA’s concern about stolen or lost identification cards; the database includes 109 incidents — that’s almost 10 percent — where military people mostly report losing their IDs.
Anybody out there have kids who perhaps conduct this “suspicious activity”? 1-800-CALLSPY, and I’m not kidding: The 902nd Military Intelligence Group is standing by.
One after another, over and over, potential surveillance, “solicitation” of military wives, crank bomb threats, girls trying to get onto military bases to see their boyfriends without ID, that is the stuff of CIFA’s “suspicious activity” database.
None of these incidents go anywhere. There is not one case where the “subject” is found to be an actual threat.