Obama’s Expanded Military Spying and Torture Network
by Tom Burghardt
July 5, 2010
Despite promises to the contrary, the Obama administration has consolidated, even expanded privacy- and civil liberties killing programs launched by the Bush government.
From warrantless spying and driftnet surveillance to the indefinite detention and torture of foreign suspects held in U.S. gulags, and from the murderous drone wars in Pakistan to threats to assassinate American citizens merely on the suspicion they might be terrorists, 18 months into Obama’s new “change” order, facts on the ground paint a grim picture indeed.
As egregious as these central facts are in demolishing the veracity of the President’s long-forgotten campaign pledges, when it comes to enlisting the services of defense and security corporations for waging America’s bogus “War On Terror 2.0.1,” the current regime delivers!
Spawned in Darkness, Nurtured by Corruption: the Counterintelligence Field Activity
Nearly two years ago, Antifascist Calling reported that the Pentagon shuttered its controversial spy shop, the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), the military office launched in early 2002 in a now infamous Directive from former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and top aide, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Stephen A. Cambone.
Remember CIFA? Under Cambone’s watch, the outsourced “activity” (some 70% of the office’s employees were contractors) was caught in flagrante delicto spying on antiwar activists, people who attended peace rallies outside military bases, and dispatched agents provocateurs into groups opposed to military recruitment, including the Quakers.
Before being run to ground after journalists exposed the shady operation, CIFA had compiled a massive database on activists and other suspect heimat citizens considered threats to the military. The Threat and Local Observation Notice database, TALON/CORNERSTONE, became a Pentagon repository for alarmist tittle-tattle and misinformation generated by the office’s army of corporate spies.
What was this Rumsfeldian satrapy doing with our hard-earned tax dollars, lovingly doled out to their security partners? Why subverting our rights, of course! TALON/CORNERSTONE reports subsequently published by The National Security Archive are a chilling read and reveal a systematic pattern of profiteering and lawbreaking by both the Pentagon and some of the biggest firms servicing the secret state.
One CIFA-supported project, NBC Nightly News reported in 2005, was run by security giant Northrop Grumman. Designated “Person Search,” the initiative included capabilities to search government and commercial databases and was intended to “provide comprehensive information about people of interest.” Another program, stood up by Computer Sciences Corporation (a firm now heavily-leveraged in the emerging “cybersecurity” niche market) developed “systems able to detect, mitigate and investigate insider threats,” as well as to “identify and document normal and abnormal activities and ‘behaviors’.”
By late 2005, TALON/CORNERSTONE had evolved into a joint military intelligence and civilian law enforcement system for sharing information held in Pentagon databases on “persons of interest” deemed “national security threats.” Project VOYAGER and the related Joint Protection Enterprise Network were TALON subprojects deployed by military counterspies to “enhance” coordination with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.