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April 17, 2006

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slickdpdx

The person you quote implies ( by referring to surveillance "tools") a lot more than the story shows. Its a sad comment on the folks who felt compelled to report innocuous activity to the program for their own reasons/prejudices. On the other hand, just because an organization is associated with a good cause or a group that suffers from discimination doesn't mean they are incapable of qualifying for a legitimate report. If you don't think that there is any place for a program of this nature, I'd be interested to know why.

NBlack

Slickdpdx,

What bothers me about this incident is that the government is using a questionable system that was intended to keep track of terrorist threats and the "war" against terrorism, and is using it to keep track of those who tangentially oppose the war on terrorism.

In further support of my assertion, I offer two articles: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2003/6/29/204152.shtml
and
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/10/AR2005121000893.html

The first article, from 2003, outlines the government's initial use of Talon reports. From that article: "First there was Operation TIPS, Attorney General John Ashcroft’s plan to enlist civilian workers nationwide to report suspected terrorist activity. Taken offline last year, the controversial program is reportedly being replaced with “Talon,” a cutting edge Department of Defense database designed to snare and distribute “raw, non-validated” reports of “anomalous activities” within the United States, according to a report in Wired."

And, from the second article: "The Talon reports, as they are called, are based on information from civilians and military personnel who stumble across people or information they think might be part of a terrorist plot or threat against defense facilities at home or abroad."

So, Talon reports were intended to keep track of information relating to suspected terrorism plots, as indicated in the documents linked to in my original post.

However, what is bothers me is that the following concern set forth by civil liberties advocates in the second article has clearly come to fruition: "The Pentagon's emphasis on domestic intelligence has raised concerns among some civil liberties advocates and intelligence officials. For some of them, the Talon system carries echoes of the 1960s, when the Pentagon collected information about anti-Vietnam War groups and peace activists that led to congressional hearings in the 1970s and limits on the types of information the Defense Department could gather and retain about U.S. citizens."

The pendulum has swung too far. This administration is wasting valuable resources that could be used to "fight" the war on "terror" to keep track of those who oppose that effort, no matter how tangential that opposition may be.

slickdpdx

Is this a case of overeager tipsters? Hot rhetoric exxagerated by organization members that created an irrational fear? Are there any real domestic terror threats? (Obviously, there are.) The pendulum analogy suggests that a reasonable position can be taken between ignoring domestic threats and improperly interfering in regular civilian society.

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