Friday, December 16, 2005
No sooner had the House's reauthorization of the Patriot Act then we encountered this nifty bit of federal synergy, news of which comes courtesy of NBC News' investigative team: The
Pentagon has been conducting wide-ranging, data-mining surveillance on U.S. antiwar activists and anyone else it might whimsically designate a "person of interest." The domestic spying intitiative comes under the jurisdiction of a little-known Pentagon agency called Counterintelligence Field Activity. Here are a few of its lovelier contracts, as characterized by NBC investigative reporters Lisa Myers, Douglas Pasternak and Rich Gardella:
One of the CIFA-funded database projects being developed by Northrop Grumman and dubbed “Person Search,” is designed “to provide comprehensive information about people of interest.” It will include the ability to search government as well as commercial databases. Another project, “The Insider Threat Initiative,” intends to “develop systems able to detect, mitigate and investigate insider threats,” as well as the ability to “identify and document normal and abnormal activities and ‘behaviors,’” according to the Computer Sciences Corp. contract. A separate CIFA contract with a small Virginia-based defense contractor seeks to develop methods “to track and monitor activities of suspect individuals.”
Apart from such activity being apparently, well, illegal, one wonders how the DoD us going about classifying "abnormal activities and 'behaviors.' " We suspect, after all, that if it were to discover activists engaged in waterboarding, the software automatically switches into recruitment mode. Or directs them on to senior levels of the Justice Department.