Sunday, November 27, 2005

I Spy, Starring Donald Rumsfeld and the Entire Pentagon Staff

The Pentagon is gearing up to protect itself against the next threat in this age of terrorism: the American people.

The Pentagon has pushed legislation on Capitol Hill that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information gathered about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies, as long as the data is deemed to be related to foreign intelligence. Backers say the measure is needed to strengthen investigations into terrorism or weapons of mass destruction.

And who has the job of deeming whether the data is related to foreign intelligence? Why the Pentagon, of course!

The proposals, and other Pentagon steps aimed at improving its ability to analyze counterterrorism intelligence collected inside the United States, have drawn complaints from civil liberties advocates and a few members of Congress, who say the Defense Department's push into domestic collection is proceeding with little scrutiny by the Congress or the public.

"We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a recent interview.

Wyden has since persuaded lawmakers to change the legislation, attached to the fiscal 2006 intelligence authorization bill, to address some of his concerns, but he still believes hearings should be held. Among the changes was the elimination of a provision to let Defense Intelligence Agency officers hide the fact that they work for the government when they approach people who are possible sources of intelligence in the United States.

Modifications also were made in the provision allowing the FBI to share information with the Pentagon and CIA, requiring the approval of the director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte, for that to occur, and requiring the Pentagon to make reports to Congress on the subject. Wyden said the legislation "now strikes a much fairer balance by protecting critical rights for our country's citizens and advancing intelligence operations to meet our security needs."

Don't you feel safer knowing that the FBI won't share information about you with the Pentagon and the CIA unless John Negroponte approves it? There's no one to whom I would feel more comfortable entrusting my human rights.

In addition, each of the military services has begun its own post-9/11 collection of domestic intelligence, primarily aimed at gathering data on potential terrorist threats to bases and other military facilities at home and abroad. For example, Eagle Eyes is a program set up by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, which "enlists the eyes and ears of Air Force members and citizens in the war on terror," according to the program's Web site.

The Marine Corps has expanded its domestic intelligence operations and developed internal policies in 2004 to govern oversight of the "collection, retention and dissemination of information concerning U.S. persons," according to a Marine Corps order approved on April 30, 2004.

The order recognizes that in the post-9/11 era, the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity will be "increasingly required to perform domestic missions," and as a result, "there will be increased instances whereby Marine intelligence activities may come across information regarding U.S. persons." Among domestic targets listed are people in the United States who it "is reasonably believed threaten the physical security of Defense Department employees, installations, operations or official visitors."

The Pentagon is scared of its own people.

Gives a whole new meaning to "We have met the enemy and he is us," doesn't it?

1 comment:

The Heretik said...

Added to the update at SLIME TIME NEWS