Dr. Stephen Cambone, a trusted protégé of former DefSec Donald Rumsfeld has, since his resignation as DOD’s Under SecDef for Intell following Rumsfeld’s departure in November 2006, been vice president for strategy of a company known as QinetiQ (pronounced “kinetic”) North America, a major British-owned defense and intelligence contractor based in McLean, Virginia, and has been employing a version of TALON against US civilians.
The Pentagon office (Counter-Intelligence Field Activity office, known as CIFA) that claims to monitor terrorist threats to U.S. military bases in North America – but is known to have spied on at least 186 peaceful anti-war protests in the U.S. – awarded a $30 million contract to a company whose senior management includes the former Defense Department (DOD) official who set up that office: Dr. Stephen Cambone.
The organization [ACLU] said the Pentagon’s misuse of the TALON database is just one example of increased government surveillance of innocent Americans.
TALON was created after the U.S. Congress in 2002 approved a proposal backed by Rumsfeld and Vice President Richard Cheney to create a new undersecretary slot at the Pentagon specifically for intelligence. Cambone was given the job. Under the law, Cambone exercised the Secretary of Defense’s “authority, direction and control” over all DOD intelligence, counterintelligence and security policy, plans and programs.
The mission of Rumsfeld and Cambone was to give the Pentagon greater authority in the area of human intelligence, traditionally the preserve of the CIA. Cambone’s deputy was Army Lieutenant General William G. (Jerry) Boykin, then a deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence. Boykin was later reprimanded by the Army for “inappropriate” comments made in a series of speeches given in evangelical churches while in his military uniform, in which he described the war on terrorism as a Christian battle against evil.
Civil libertarians and human rights activists have drawn parallels between CIFA’s collection and retention of data on peace groups and other activists and the domestic collection of data through such programs as COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program). COINTELPRO was a program of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at investigating and disrupting dissident political organizations within the U.S. Its targets were organizations that were at the time considered to have politically radical elements, ranging from groups such as The Weathermen, who advocated the violent overthrow of the U.S. government to such non-violent civil rights activist organizations as Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.