Friday, October 13, 2006

ACLU Gets Documents on "Talon" Program

Folks who attended last year's "Stop the War Now" rally in Akron, Ohio, had no idea that they were suspected of "potential terrorist activity" simply for congregating in opposition to Bush's lunatic endeavor in that beleaguered country.

The "terror-fighters" know best, though, and the military's "Talon" program that investigates threats to national security thinks that pacifist groups and anti-war organizations are devious covers for violent extremists.

Internal military documents released Thursday provided new details about the Defense Department's collection of information on demonstrations nationwide last year by students, Quakers and others opposed to the Iraq war.

The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, show, for instance, that military officials labeled as "potential terrorist activity" events like a "Stop the War Now" rally in Akron, Ohio, in March 2005.

The Defense Department acknowledged last year that its analysts had maintained records on war protests in an internal database past the 90 days its guidelines allowed, and even after it was determined there was no threat. ...

Some documents obtained by the A.C.L.U. referred to the potential for disruption to military recruiting and the threat posed to military personnel as a result.

An internal report produced in May 2005, for instance, discussed antiwar protests at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and was issued "to clarify why the Students for Peace and Justice represent a potential threat to D.O.D. personnel."

The memorandum noted that several hundred students had recently protested the presence of military recruiters at a career fair and demanded that they leave.

"The clear purpose of these civil disobedience actions was to disrupt the recruiting mission of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command by blocking the entrance to the recruiting station and causing the stations to shut down early," it said.

But the document also noted that "to date, no reported incidents have occurred at these protests."

The documents indicated that intelligence reports and tips about antiwar protests, including mundane details like the schedule for weekly planning meetings, were widely shared among analysts from the military, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security.

"There is simply no reason why the United States military should be monitoring the peaceful activities of American citizens who oppose U.S. war policies," said Ben Wizner, a lawyer for the A.C.L.U.

Joyce Miller, an official with the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group that learned that information on some of its antiwar protests was in the military database, said she found the operation to be a "chilling" and troubling trend.


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