Hit & Run

Intelligence Roudup

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From the Christian Science Monitor, a roundup of the week's intelligence news, including the Pentagon's seeking the ability to circumvent existing Privacy Act requirements that they identify themselves when seeking intelligence on U.S. citizens in the U.S. A couple of excerpts:

Currently all military intelligence organizations must comply with the Privacy Act. The act is a Watergate-era law that requires that any government official who is seeking information from a resident of the US disclose who they are and why they are seeking the information. But Newsweek reports that last month the Senate Intelligence Committee, in closed session, added the provision that would exempt the Pentagon from this restriction. The bill is S.2386, in specific Sec.502 - Defense intelligence exemption from certain Privacy Act requirements.
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A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee says the provision would allow military intel agents to "approach potential sources and collect personal information from them" without disclosing they work for the government. The justification: "Current counterterrorism operations," the report explains, which require "greater latitude … both overseas and within the United States." … Pentagon lawyers insist agents will still be legally barred from domestic "law enforcement." But watchdog groups see a potentially alarming "mission creep." "This… is giving them the authority to spy on Americans," said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, a group frequently critical of the war on terror. "And it's all been done with no public discussion, in the dark of night."

The article also goes on to discuss controversy over what some see as an attempt to make military intelligence trump civilian intelligence, through the office of the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, currently held by Stephen Cambone. The article quotes former congressman and current civil liberties watchdog Bob Barr on this:

If in fact [Rumsfeld]and his military intelligence team, headed by [Cambone], are able to take advantage of the leadership uncertainty at the CIA, and if Mr. Bush allows this to happen or encourages it by naming a military person to replace Mr. Tenet, then the goal of a truly independent foreign intelligence apparatus to serve the president objectively ? a goal the Defense Department has resisted for 55 years ? will be unceremoniously laid to rest. The mistakes of the past will be, sadly, then repeated.