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03/09/2004 Archived Entry: "Military expands role in domestic syping"

MILITARY EXPANDS ROLE IN DOMESTIC SPYING. You know it's bad news when this many smart people send you a copy of the story. The Wall Street Journal looks at military intelligence (sic) within the borders of the U.S. and finds it growing everywhere. A sample:

Another little-known Pentagon group, the Counterintelligence Field Activity, was set up two years ago. With 400 service members and civilians stationed around the globe, the CIFA was originally charged with protecting the military and critical infrastructure from spying by terrorists and foreign intelligence services. But in August, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, issued a directive ordering the unit to maintain a "domestic law-enforcement database that includes information related to potential terrorist threats directed against the Department of Defense."

The CIFA also works closely with the FBI and is conducting some duties for civilian agencies. For example, according to Department of Agriculture documents, the CIFA is in charge of doing background checks on foreign workers and scientists employed by the department's agricultural-research service. The group also provides information to the Information and Security Command, or Inscom, the Army's main intelligence organization, based at Fort Belvoir, Md.

CIFA? Who are these people? Does Congress even know they exist? Who's overseeing them? Where did they get their authority? What constitutes a potential threat against the Defense Department? (Seems anti-war demonstrations increasingly come into that category -- at least in the eyes of authoritarian paranoids.)

And you remember the little squawk a few weeks ago, when the feds subpoenaed university records after an anti-war conference? They eventually backed off. But the WSJ notes that that wasn't the only such incident ...

(Thank you to Jim and the Iron Man.)

Posted by Claire @ 10:26 AM CST

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