Fresh off the NSA eavesdropping scandal, Newsweek reveals that the Pentagon has its own domestic snooping operation. It's called Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), and writer Michael Isikoff offers a glimpse of who they're keeping tabs on:
The demonstration seemed harmless enough. Late on a June afternoon in 2004, a motley group of about 10 peace activists showed up outside the Houston headquarters of Halliburton, the giant military contractor once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. They were there to protest the corporation's supposed "war profiteering." The demonstrators wore papier-mache masks and handed out free peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches to Halliburton employees as they left work. [...]
But that's not how the Pentagon saw it. To U.S. Army analysts at the top-secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), the peanut-butter protest was regarded as a potential threat to national security. Created three years ago by the Defense Department, CIFA's role is "force protection"- tracking threats and terrorist plots against military installations and personnel inside the United States. In May 2003, Paul Wolfowitz, then deputy Defense secretary, authorized a fact-gathering
operation code-named TALON - short for Threat and Local Observation Notice - that would collect "raw information" about "suspicious incidents." [...]
A Defense document shows that Army analysts wrote a report on the
Halliburton protest and stored it in CIFA's database. It's not clear why
the Pentagon considered the protest worthy of attention [...]
[T]here are now questions about whether CIFA exceeded its authority and conducted unauthorized spying on innocent people and organizations. A Pentagon memo obtained by NEWSWEEK shows that the deputy Defense secretary now acknowledges that some TALON reports may have contained information on U.S. citizens and groups that never should have been retained. The number of reports with names of U.S. persons could be in the thousands, says a senior Pentagon official who asked not be named because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, and Rummy is going after peaceniks in Houston handing out peanut butter sandwiches?
(Hat tip to reader RM)