Is the Pentagon spying on Americans?

"WASHINGTON - A year ago, at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Fla., a small group of activists met to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. What they didn't know was that their meeting had come to the attention of the U.S. military.

A secret 400-page Defense Department document obtained by NBC News lists the Lake Worth meeting as a “threat” and one of more than 1,500 “suspicious incidents” across the country over a recent 10-month period.

“This peaceful, educationally oriented group being a threat is incredible,” says Evy Grachow, a member of the Florida group called The Truth Project.

“This is incredible,” adds group member Rich Hersh. “It's an example of paranoia by our government,” he says. “We're not doing anything illegal.”

The Defense Department document is the first inside look at how the U.S. military has stepped up intelligence collection inside this country since 9/11, which now includes the monitoring of peaceful anti-war and counter-military recruitment groups.

“I think Americans should be concerned that the military, in fact, has reached too far,” says NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin.

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.

Far from a the scary scenerio NBC News tries to spin on this, the practice is common, necessary and legal. As the article states. However, some - mostly "former military/intel types feel otherwise:

"The increased monitoring disturbs some military observers.

“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.”

Some former senior DOD intelligence officials share his concern. George Lotz, a 30-year career DOD official and former U.S. Air Force colonel, held the post of Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight from 1998 until his retirement last May. Lotz, who recently began a consulting business to help train and educate intelligence agencies and improve oversight of their collection process, believes some of the information the DOD has been collecting is not justified.

Make sure they are not just going crazy

“Somebody needs to be monitoring to make sure they are just not going crazy and reporting things on U.S. citizens without any kind of reasoning or rationale,” says Lotz. “I demonstrated with Martin Luther King in 1963 in Washington,” he says, “and I certainly didn’t want anybody putting my name on any kind of list. I wasn’t any threat to the government,” he adds.

The military’s penchant for collecting domestic intelligence is disturbing — but familiar — to Christopher Pyle, a former Army intelligence officer.

Interesting that VIPS affectionado Christopher Pyle is sourced in this article. Interesting, but not surprising.

Be that as it may, the fact is that Domestic Surveillance (Able Danger?) is a necessary evil. Point Blank, if it's a matter of two buildings and 3000 dead or your "privacy" - you lose. In my opinion, that's just the way it is.

However, I do slightly understand the concern some of have of "going too far", at least I can see where people might have that concern.

Some of us will remember the program CHAOS, werein the CIA conducted wide scale and wholesale information gathering on US Citizens. But unlike the naysayers, the program actually worked to a great extent, and kept many domestic terrorist acts in the 60s and 70s from happening. Fact is that the program did far more than to just target anti-war demonstrators. Then as now there were many domestic threats, not by foreign nationals but by our own private US citizens. From 1982 to 1992 there were more than 130 acts of Domestic Terrorism in the US. Of those only 1 were the result of Muslim Extremists.

How can we forget Timothy McVeigh?

This link lists 28 groups known to commit acts of Domestic Terrorism.

Anyone who thinks that we don't have enemies within our walls who would tear us apart are either mistaken, in on the plot, or just plain stupid.

We might not like the methods, but we can LIVE with the results.


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