Skip to comments.Pentagon wants new spying powers in US
Posted on 10/11/2005 2:12:04 PM PDT by F14 Pilot
Pentagon says it won't spy on 'innocent' Americans, but critics say past record shows this is false.
Claiming it needs greater latitude for the war on terror, the US Senate Intelligence Committee has approved a request from the Pentagon for the right to "covertly" gather intelligence on US citizens in order to determine whether they can recruit them as informants, without telling them that they are doing so on behalf of the US government. Reuters reported Friday that the Pentagon said the measure, which is aimed at the Muslim community in the US, could help them fight insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. "We believe there are people in the United States who have information of value to us," said Jim Schmidli, deputy general counsel for operations at the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency. "That information is within different ethnic communities in this country -- recent additions to our population from distressed areas of the world, primarily the Middle East." But civil libertarians and leaders of the Muslim community charge, however, that the Pentagon is using the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to reclaim domestic spying powers that Congress had taken away from it after those powers were abused to spy on Americans during the Vietnam era.
The intelligence committee has backed the request as part of the 2006 intelligence spending authorization bill. The full Senate will take up the bill later this month. The Pentagon's request was not included in the House version of the bill, which was passed in June. The bill will now go to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Newsweek reported recently that this is not the first time the Pentagon has asked for these powers.
The provision was included in last years version of the same bill, but was knocked out after its details were reported by Newsweek and critics charged it could lead to spying on US citizens. But late last month, with no public hearings or debate, a similar amendment was put back into the same authorization billan annual measure governing US intelligence agenciesat the request of the Pentagon. A copy of the 104-page committee bill, which has yet to be voted on by the full Senate, did not become public until last week. Newsweek also reported that the committee included two other controversial amendments in the spending bill: one that would allow intelligence agencies greater access to databases on US citizens, and one that would grant the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency the right not to disclose "operational files" under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Los Angeles Times reports that supporters of the bill say it gives Pentagon intelligence officers the same authority that the CIA has to approach Americans abroad. The CIA cannot spy on US citizens, but its agents "routinely approach American business executives and overseas travelers to provide information on foreign targets."
The Washington Post reported Saturday that the Pentagon defended its request for the new powers last week, saying that as the Pentagon expands its role in counterterrorism, it needs more flexibility.
"This is not about spying on Americans," [DIA general counsel George Peirce] said in an interview in which he defended legislative language approved last week by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence ..."We are not asking for the moon," Peirce said. "We only want to assess their suitability as a source, person to person" and at the same time "protect the ID and safety of our officers." The CIA and the FBI already have such authority, he added, and the [Defense Intelligence Agency] needs it "to develop critical leads" because "there is more than enough work for all of us to do." In a separate article, the Post reports that the idea has not been well received in the US Muslim community, or by other critics of the new power. "This has a back-alley, dead-of-night feel to it that I don't think would be received well by the Muslim community," said Ibrahim Cooper, spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations. Lisa Graves of the American Civil Liberties Union scoffed at a defense official's assertion that the proposed change would not allow for carte blanche Pentagon spying inside the United States. "That's some spin," Graves said. "The change would allow them to gather information on Americans surreptitiously. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck."
In late September, The New York Times reported that Republican members of Congress were expressing concerns that the Pentagon "may be carrying out new intelligence activities through programs intended to escape oversight from Congress and the new director of national intelligence," John D. Negroponte.
We see indications that the [Pentagon] is trying to create parallel functions to what is going on in intelligence, but is calling it something else, Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R) of Michigan and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview.
Mr. Hoekstra said he believed the activities were designed to "obscure" the Pentagon's intelligence activities in order to keep them out of Mr. Negroponte's jurisdiction.
So..let's move to China!
No more freedom, but cheaper beer, food, clothes, etc..
-Newsweek reported... - The Los Angeles Times reports that supporters of the bill say... - The Washington Post reported... - ...civil libertarians and leaders of the Muslim community charge...-
Oh, look, they're all in agreement. Speaks volumes so far.
Oh please. Those a$$hats at DOD couldn't even recognize the enemy when it was spelled out to them by their own. Able Danger anyone? It's either that they were too stupid and incompetent, or they were blatantly criminal in their actions. Judging from their attempts to cover it all up and fry the whistleblower, I'd say they were criminal. Yes, by all means, give 'em more unaccountable power to obfuscate. Blackbird.
" Yes, by all means, give 'em more unaccountable power to obfuscate. Blackbird."
That idea will have any number of cheerleaders here.
Yeah, I know. Blackbird.