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NBC obtains secret Pentagon database of Americans under surveillance

Who on earth is surprised at this, given the paranoid, delusional Bush Administration? This is an outrage.

Lisa Myers, Douglas Pasternak, Rich Gardella and the NBC Investigative Unit have obtained a secret 400-page Defense Department document listing peace activists and monitoring people at Iraq war protests. (Here is the PDF; there is video at MSNBC).

The Department of Defense declined repeated requests by NBC News for an interview. A spokesman said that all domestic intelligence information is “properly collected” and involves “protection of Defense Department installations, interests and personnel.” The military has always had a legitimate “force protection” mission inside the U.S. to protect its personnel and facilities from potential violence. But the Pentagon now collects domestic intelligence that goes beyond legitimate concerns about terrorism or protecting U.S. military installations, say critics.

The DOD database obtained by NBC News includes nearly four dozen anti-war meetings or protests, including some that have taken place far from any military installation, post or recruitment center. One “incident” included in the database is a large anti-war protest at Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles last March that included effigies of President Bush and anti-war protest banners. Another incident mentions a planned protest against military recruiters last December in Boston and a planned protest last April at McDonald’s National Salute to America’s Heroes — a military air and sea show in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Fort Lauderdale protest was deemed not to be a credible threat and a column in the database concludes: “US group exercising constitutional rights.” Two-hundred and forty-three other incidents in the database were discounted because they had no connection to the Department of Defense — yet they all remained in the database.

And the Pentagon’s doing everything the tin foil hat conspiracy folks have been ranting about for years.

Still, the DOD database includes at least 20 references to U.S. citizens or U.S. persons. Other documents obtained by NBC News show that the Defense Department is clearly increasing its domestic monitoring activities. One DOD briefing document stamped “secret” concludes: “[W]e have noted increased communication and encouragement between protest groups using the [I]nternet,” but no “significant connection” between incidents, such as “reoccurring instigators at protests” or “vehicle descriptions.”

“It means that they’re actually collecting information about who’s at those protests, the descriptions of vehicles at those protests,” says Arkin. “On the domestic level, this is unprecedented,” he says. “I think it’s the beginning of enormous problems and enormous mischief for the military.”

History is repeating itself. Anti-war and civil rights protestors ended up with government dossiers in the 50s and 60s, and the NBC report notes that a congressional investigation revealed that the military had conducted investigations on at least 100,000 American citizens during that time, with more than 100 military agents testifying that they had been ordered to spy on U.S. citizens.

Now it’s happening again — and do you think this Republican Congress will have any interest in addressing this violation of the American public? We won’t see any hearings on this until all of those bums are tossed out. Writing your representatives and senators about this BS is at least a start.


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