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Pentagon Treats Counter-recruitment Activism as ‘Terrorismâ€TM

by Megan Tady

Oct. 16, 2006 – Documents released last week by the American Civil Liberties Union expose the extent to which the government considers First Amendment-protected activities and civil disobedience a "potential terrorist activity."

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The files contain more evidence that the Pentagon is grouping nonviolent protests against military recruitment into a database supposedly meant to catalogue potential terrorism threats.

The documents were obtained as a result of a lawsuit the ACLU filed in June, after the Pentagon stonewalled a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request initiated in February. The ACLU filed the FOIA request to follow up on repeated reports that the Department of Defense was monitoring protest activities and anti-war organizations.

The documents reveal that the military is tracking groups through its terrorism-watch database Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON). The Department of Homeland Security, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and local police departments have supplied information to the Pentagon to help with surveillance, the documents show.

One of the TALON documents was written to "alert commanders and staff" to a counter-recruitment protest the Broward Anti-War Coalition (BAWC) was staging at the Ft. Lauderdale Air and Sea Show. The alert, submitted by the Miami-Dade police department, said, "BAWC plans to counter military recruitment and the ‘pro-war’ message with ‘guerilla theater and other forms of subversive propaganda.’"

Another document revealed the government is tracking some of the anti-recruitment activities of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker peace organization.

A third TALON report detailed counter-recruitment rallies in Georgia, and cited Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, and Iraq Veterans Against the War as participants.

In December 2005, NBC News obtained part of the TALON database that included reports on about 48 anti-war meetings or protests.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Megan Tady is a staff journalist.

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