S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Patriots and the Pentagon Database

In another of my blogs, at TPM Cafe, I wrote about my strange feelings as I discovered that governmental entities were visiting this site in November. And I have never actually physically attended any protests. I merely write online in what I view as a patriotic manner. Furthermore, just within the past 100 visits, I found this information about my more recent visitors:

  • One visit from " (Sergeant at Arms)"
  • Two visits from " at Alexandria, VA"
  • Three visits from Washington, D.C.
One of the things that I speculate about is that (possibly mere coincidence) it was near the time I posted comments at The Washington Note, that the site visits occurred. That blog is a widely read and respected centrist blog. Perhaps I need to go in for a check-up. Is this pure paranoia or not? Does the Pentagon feel like it is under seige? Do people there collect information in order to protect themselves? Maybe some of those folks need to go in for a check-up, too.

Last Tuesday NBC first reported that Antiwar activists may be the target of spying by the Pentagon. Yesterday my Common Dreams newsletter also reported that Americans are being spied upon. (Dr. Stephen Cambone is now investigating.) To quote,

A briefing document stamped "Secret" noted "increased communication between protest groups using the Internet" but not a "significant connection between incidents," such as "reoccurring instigators" or "vehicle descriptions," NBC said.The document indicates that information was being gathered about people who attended the meetings and the vehicles they used, a military analyst told NBC. The defense spokesman, who would not be identified by name, would not say whether reports on activists or anti-war incidents were in the database, which is known as the Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) reporting system. But he said Stephen Cambone, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, ordered a review of the database in October in response to media queries about it. "There was information in the database that shouldn't be in there," the spokesman said. The database is made up of unverified reports of suspicious activities filed by "concerned citizens" and Defense Department personnel as well as by law enforcement, intelligence, security and counterintelligence organizations, he said. "Inputs are from DoD installatioms worldwide about suspicious activity, people worried about certain things that happen along, or they see something funny," the spokesman said.

On the opposite side of this same coin is the current legislative battle over the Patriot Act, which has the potential to either abuse or protect our civil liberties. The House of Representatives has voted to renew the U.S. Patriot Act. The NYT reports on the upcoming battle over renewal of the Patriot Act in the Senate.
Senator Russ Feingold has been in the forefront of the efforts to protect our civil liberties since the act was first adopted. Since Monday, the 12th, he has been writing very interesting posts at TPM Cafe about his fight against the problems in the Patriot Act. It has been a privilege to have access to his thoughts. I feel sure this fine public servant does not need to go in for a check-up, by the way.
Daily Kos counts "Patriot Act" as one of their more frequently used tags. Read the most recent posts about this here. You will get an eye- and ear-full from these thoughtful bloggers!
According to my editor, "If Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, or John Hancock somehow woke up and read this, they would surely ask, 'How did this happen?'"


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