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Amygdala will move to an entirely new and far better blog template ASAP, aka RSN, aka incrementally/badly punctuated evolution.
Tagging posts, posts by category, next/previous post indicators, and other post-2003 design innovations are incrementally being tweaked/kludged/melting.
Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
THE DEUCE. I recently extremely belatedly discovered that I have full at-home access to the entire Wall Street Journal and NY Times databases, all the stuff behind the subscription walls, as well as a ton of other newspapers and other databases, for free, via the magic of having a local library card (you may, too; might want to look into it).
There's no point in linking to this piece, therefore, since you can't have my library card, sorry; you'll just have to take my word that it's from "Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Apr 27, 2006. pg. A.1" and by Robert Block and Jay Solomon:
AKRON, Ohio -- On March 19, 2005, about 200 mainly middle-aged peace marchers made their way through the streets of this city, stopping outside a Marine Corps recruiting center and a Federal Bureau of Investigation office to listen to speeches against the Iraq war. Close behind, police in unmarked cars followed them -- acting on a tip from the Pentagon.
For weeks prior to the demonstration, analysts at the Army's 902nd Military Intelligence Group in Fort Meade, Md., were downloading information from activist Web sites, intercepting emails and cross- referencing this with information in police databases.
The Army's conclusion, contained in an alert to Akron police: "Even though these demonstrations are advertised as 'peaceful,' they are assessed to present a potential force protection threat."
The Akron protest and seven others monitored by the Army that month turned out to be nonviolent. Pentagon officials later issued an apology, admitting that some of the information in military databases shouldn't have been there. But they called that a minor slip in a critical program to protect Americans.
The government's monitoring of the protests is one example of how the 9/11 terror attacks have sparked a broad effort by the Pentagon to gather intelligence within U.S. borders.
According to documents seen by The Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon has monitored more than 20 antiwar groups' activities around the country over the past three years. It has reviewed photographs and records of vehicles and protesters at marches to see if different activities were being organized by the same instigators. Cmdr. Hicks says the point of this monitoring is to keep military personnel away from places where they might provoke demonstrators, not to interfere with anyone's right to protest.
The peace activists don't like being watched. About 300 activists gathered at Akron's public library this February to complain to elected representatives at a public hearing. They had watched an NBC News report in December that said the Pentagon included peace group activities in a database of potential terrorist threats. Documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal show that, as the activists suspected, their Quaker-organized rally in March 2005 was on the Pentagon's watch list. Those documents show a broader effort to gather information for databases and analyze it.
Pat Carano, a veteran of Ohio peace marches since the Vietnam War, told the meeting of the "eerie feeling" of being watched when he saw the unmarked police cars. "It's ridiculous," said Donna Schapps, a grandmother of four from Stow, Ohio. "Quakers are not terrorists. We believe in peace."
Strict limits on soldiers doing the work of police date back to the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, enacted in response to a public backlash against troops maintaining civil order in the South during Reconstruction. The act generally prohibits the military from domestic law-enforcement activities.
The military's secret monitoring of dissidents during the Vietnam War led to a slew of laws, regulations and executive orders that pushed the military out of domestic spying and created walls between domestic and foreign intelligence.
After Sept. 11, 2001, those walls came in for criticism from a broad range of experts. The bipartisan 9/11 Commission concluded that U.S. intelligence agencies needed to do a better job of coordinating and connecting leads. The Pentagon itself believed it might have prevented the attacks if its ability to operate within the U.S. were less circumscribed, and decided to take a fresh look at the post-Vietnam rules.
On Nov. 5, 2001, Lt. Gen. Robert W. Noonan Jr., then the Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, sent a memo to Army commanders titled, "Collecting Information on U.S. Persons."
"Contrary to popular belief, there is no absolute ban on intelligence components collecting U.S. person information," it said. Gen. Noonan noted that while the military was normally barred from using its own assets to collect information about people living in the U.S., military intelligence "may receive information from anyone, anytime . . . if only to determine its intelligence value.
"Remember," the memo stressed, "merely receiving information does not constitute 'collection'" under Army regulations.
Michael Varhola, an official in the Army inspector general's office, repeated the message in a January 2002 article in the quarterly Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin. Even though many types of information gathering were perfectly legal, Mr. Varhola wrote, "unfortunately some individuals find it easier or safer to avoid the issue altogether by simply not collecting the data on citizens they may need to do their complete jobs."
As such views spread, several parts of the Pentagon empire soon swung into action to formalize information-gathering efforts, though they weren't all necessarily acting in concert. In February 2002, Paul Wolfowitz, then the deputy defense secretary, formed a unit at Pentagon headquarters to manage all military counterintelligence programs. Its name was Counter Intelligence Field Activity. CIFA, whose exact size and budget remain secret, has grown to include nine directorates. Its main focus is on protecting defense facilities and personnel from terrorist attacks.
Some of the raw data feeding into CIFA headquarters comes from a reporting process called Talon (short for "Threat and Local Observation Notice"). Talon started out as an Air Force reporting form that airmen could fill out and hand in if they noticed anything unusual around the base. In May 2003, the Pentagon made Talon the standard method for service members in all the armed forces to report "nonvalidated" information about possible terrorist activity. Talon reports can now be filled out online.
Pentagon officials compare the process to a neighborhood-watch program. Cmdr. Hicks says Talon is the place where the Department of Defense "initially stores the 'dots' of information, which, if validated, might later be connected before an attack occurs."
To connect the dots, the Pentagon has turned to data mining, the science of extracting patterns from large volumes of raw information. In theory, reports of unusual incidents such as those collected by Talon could be added to electronic records of business transactions, Internet usage and police activity to deduce where terrorists are gearing up for an attack.
A December 2002 report issued by Sen. Richard Shelby, then vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said CIFA was working with the Justice Department to develop "deep access data-mining techniques" to discover potential threats to the U.S. from terrorists.
Many computer programs and techniques developed during the Total Information Awareness project quietly survived. Some were taken up by the Army's 902nd Military Intelligence Group. The 902nd, established during World War II and known as the "Deuce," is part of the Army command structure and separate from CIFA at Pentagon headquarters. Nonetheless, the 902nd plays an important military-wide role because it is the military's largest counterintelligence unit and has hundreds of soldiers stationed around the country.
Charles Harlan, who heads the 902nd's analysis center, published an article in the Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin in January 2005 describing how his unit processed information to help the Pentagon predict attacks against the military in the U.S. He described three data-mining and artificial-intelligence programs as key to the effort -- all three of which were components of the defunct Total Information Awareness project.
The 902nd has access to Talon, but it also makes extensive use of another information system created after 9/11. This system, called the Joint Regional Information Exchange System, gathers information collected by civilian law enforcement agencies around the country. The Pentagon and local authorities including the New York Police Department and California's justice department set it up in December 2002. The idea was to give military personnel access to terror-related information on U.S. residents without violating any prohibitions on the military collecting domestic intelligence.
The Pentagon's regional information-exchange system got a boost when the Department of Homeland Security took it over and expanded it to include information from all 50 states and major urban areas.
The system doesn't just serve military personnel. A police department in one place can put a query out to other cities or states seeking information on, say, license plates or phone numbers of terrorist suspects. Many police departments purchase commercially available information about individuals, such as credit data and online viewing habits, as part of investigations. They can post this information on the exchange system.
Military members can also issue a query seeking information on any topic they like, but they can't command any civilian participant to do anything. In theory they could ask for personal data on individuals via the exchange system, but it isn't clear whether they do so and if so under what circumstances.
All of these strands came together to prompt the police's shadowing of peace protesters in the spring of 2005. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the Senate last month that the Department of Homeland Security was the source of information in Pentagon databases about at least three antiwar protests at military recruiting centers -- two in Vermont and one in Washington, D.C.
A number of leads also came from the Talon reports. The two-page alert from the 902nd Military Intelligence Group that prompted the Akron police to follow the Quaker-organized rally attaches a nine- digit Army Talon number to that protest. It also gives separate numbers for each of seven other protests organized for the second anniversary of the Iraq war. The memo says officials at the 902nd had used some of their data-analysis techniques to look for signs of hidden coordination between the protests.
Analysts at the 902nd's headquarters in Ft. Meade also scrutinized antiwar Web sites looking for threats, including the possibility that protesters might attack military personnel.
The alert memo, signed by Army official Claude G. Benner Jr., portrayed the imminent demonstrations as "threats." It gave a detailed description of activists' Web sites, noting that some featured a "help desk" where would-be protesters could get tips on organizing a demonstration. The memo also raised the possibility that military supporters might assault the protesters. Mr. Benner warned that "the potential for a spontaneous, unprovoked attack against either the demonstrators or pro-US Military persons is assessed as HIGH."
In the end the Akron march was peaceful. A report compiled by the Army and presented last May to the U.S. Northern Command, which is in charge of joint military operations in the continental United States, threw cold water on the idea that hidden provocateurs might be organizing multiple protests around the country. "We have not noted a significant connection between incidents (i.e. reoccurring instigators at protests, vehicle descriptions)," said the report.
Cmdr. Hicks at the Pentagon says the assessment that the Akron protest posed a threat "was based on the best information available at the time, which was lawfully received from another federal agency." He declines to name the agency. Cmdr. Hicks adds: "The fact that the marches proceeded peacefully is irrelevant to leveling criticisms against the Army in this instance. Hindsight is always 20/20."