Friday, March 10, 2006
Pentagon Admits To Improperly Snooping on Peaceful War Protesters
Last December, NBC News obtained a 400-page compilation of reports from the Pentagon that revealed the Defense Department was conducting secret surveillance of peaceful war protesters.
Yesterday, in a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) pressed Rumsfeld about the Pentagon’s so-called TALON surveillance program which had conducted the snooping. Maintained by the Counterintelligence Field Agency (CIFA), the TALON database (short for Threat and Local Observation Notice) is a system that was devised in May 2003 by Paul Wolfowitz to collect “raw information” about “suspicious incidents.”
After nearly three months, three pointed letters, and one high-profile hearing, Leahy finally got the answers he was looking for. In a letter addressed to Leahy from Robert Rogalski, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Counterintelligence and Security, the Pentagon admits to improperly collecting information on innocent parties:
Bush's 16-word statement had formed the basis for the claim adopted by administration critics that "Bush lied" about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.
But according to the Washington Times today, an unnamed U.S. official reports that "newly translated Iraqi documents . . . tell of Saddam seeking uranium from Africa in the mid-1990s."
The documents also speak of burying prohibited missiles, a government official familiar with the declassification process told the paper.
In his January 2003 address, Bush told the nation:
"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
The statement prompted former ambassador to Iraq, Joseph Wilson to complain to the New York Times seven months later: "I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."
The new documents strongly suggest, however, that Wilson was wrong - and that the "Bush lied" mantra adopted by most Democrats since Wilson first made his complaint has been based on bogus information.
Confirmation on African uranium claim offered by Iraqi documents may be just the tip of the iceberg.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Peter Hoekstra told the Washington Times that about 500 hours of Saddam audiotape is still being translated and analyzed by the U.S.
And U.S. Central Command has 48,000 boxes of Iraqi documents, of which the military has delivered just 68 pages to his committee so far.
"I don't want to overstate what is in the documents," Hoekstra told the paper. "[But] I certainly want to get them out because I think people are going to find them very interesting."
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