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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Menace of the Gold Star Moms 

And to those watching tonight who are considering a military career, there is no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces. We live in freedom because every generation has produced patriots willing to serve a cause greater than themselves. Those who serve today are taking their rightful place among the greatest generations that have worn our nation's uniform.
-- G.W. Bush, Carny Spiel at Ft. Bragg, NC, 6/28/05

But if, God forbid, you can't afford the optional body armor and you have the misfortune to fly home in cargo after an untimely rendezvous with an IED, we do hope your loved ones will have the good sense not to mouth off about it:
Three decades after aggressive military spying on Americans created a national furor, California's National Guard has quietly set up a special intelligence unit that has been given ''broad authority'' to monitor, analyze and distribute information on potential terrorist threats, the Mercury News has learned.

Known as the Information Synchronization, Knowledge Management and Intelligence Fusion program, the project is part of an expanding nationwide effort to better integrate military intelligence into global anti-terrorism initiatives.

Although Guard officials said the new unit would not collect information on American citizens, top National Guard officials have already been involved in tracking at least one recent Mother's Day anti-war rally organized by families of slain American soldiers, according to e-mails obtained by the Mercury News . . . .

''The National Guard doesn't need to do this,'' said Christopher Pyle, a former Army intelligence officer who first exposed the military's domestic spying operations in 1970. ''Its job is not to investigate individuals, but to clear streets, protect facilities and help first responders.''

Top Guard officers said that they have no intentions of breaking long-established rules barring the military from gathering information on Americans and that the evolving program is meant to help California and the nation thwart terrorist attacks.
We hasten to reassure concerned readers that the arrangement is strictly temporary. The National Guard is doubling as a domestic spy agency on an interim basis only until the real thing comes along:
President Bush ordered another shake-up of the nation's intelligence services yesterday, forming new national security divisions within both the FBI and the Justice Department and, for the first time, putting a broad swath of the FBI under the authority of the nation's spy chief . . . .

Civil liberties advocates immediately criticized the changes at the FBI, arguing that they represent a radical step toward the creation of a secret police force in the United States. Many Justice prosecutors and FBI agents had also fiercely opposed the changes but were overruled by Bush's homeland security adviser, Frances Fragos Townsend, officials said.

"Spies and cops play different roles and operate under different rules for a reason," said Timothy Edgar, national security counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "The FBI is effectively being taken over by a spymaster who reports directly to the White House. . . . It's alarming that the same person who oversees foreign spying will now oversee domestic spying, too."

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III played down such concerns.
(Thanks to our venerated colleague Rorschach at No Capital for the NG link.)

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