Secrecy News

DoD Says Threat Database Included Improper Info

Of the 13,000 entries in the Pentagon’s TALON database of potential threats to the Department of Defense facilities and personnel, some two percent did not involve threats and should not have been retained, Pentagon officials acknowledged yesterday.

The TALON system “should be used only to report information regarding international terrorist activity,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England in a March 30 memo (pdf).

See “Pentagon Threat Database Kept Reports It Shouldn’t Have” by Peter Spiegel, Los Angeles Times, April 6.

The fact that the TALON database included information on American citizens engaged in peaceful protest activities was first disclosed several months ago by NBC News and researcher Bill Arkin.

The DoD experience provides an empirical basis to question the propriety of intelligence collection under the President’s warrantless surveillance program. But investigations of that program have been blocked in Congress.

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