FAS Note: A Pentagon spokesman provided the following statement to Secrecy News on December 14, 2005 in response to queries about a DoD counterintelligence database.
There is nothing more important to the U.S. military than the trust and good will of the American people. The Department of Defense values that trust and goodwill and consequently views with the greatest concern any potential violation of the strict DoD policy governing authorized counter-intelligence efforts and support to law enforcement.
DoD policy for intelligence and counterintelligence organizations prohibits the reporting, processing or storing of information on individuals or organizations not affiliated with the DoD, except in limited circumstances that are defined and codified in law. The Department has procedures to implement this policy throughout DoD.
DoD entities enter unfiltered information into the Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) reporting system gathered by concerned citizens, DoD personnel charge with responsibilities for the security of DoD installations i.e., - gate guards, or other DoD personnel reporting suspicious activities, as well as law enforcement, intelligence, security and counterintelligence organizations, to provide analysts data on which to estimate possible threats. It is in effect, the place where DoD initially stores "dots," which if validated, might later be connected before an attack occurs.
Under existing procedures, a "dot" of information that is not validated as threatening must be removed from the TALON system in less than 90 days. If the "dot" is validated, the information is moved to law enforcement entities.
In addition to a review of the TALON system begun in October by the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence has directed several actions after an initial assessment of the Talon database reporting procedures.
- First a thorough review of the TALON reporting system to ensure it complies fully with DoD and U.S. laws;
- Second, a review whether those policies and procedures are being properly applied with respect to any reporting and retention of information about any US persons;
- Third, a review of the TALON data base to identify any other information that is improperly in the data base;
- Finally, all Department counterintelligence and intelligence personnel will receive immediate refresher training concerning the laws, policies and procedures that govern collection, reporting and storing of information related to the warning of potential threats to DoD personnel, facilities or national security interests.